Global collectibles and merchandising platform Fanatics has announced an exclusive partnership with basketball icon LeBron James.

The deal will see James, currently signed to the Los Angeles Lakers franchise of the National Basketball Association (NBA), join Fanatics’ Fanatics Collectibles division for the exclusive production of trading cards bearing his name and image.

This partnership will be inaugurated with a one-of-one signed LeBron James dual autograph card where he stands in the uniform of his high school (St. Vincent-St. Mary’s) alongside his son, Lebron James Jr. who wears the uniform of his current college basketball side, the USC Trojans.

The card will be part of a new set produced by fanatics to be released for retail on January 19.

Fanatics Collectables chief executive Mike Mahan said: “Our goal is to push the envelope of where the hobby can go and are excited about how our collaboration with one of the best athletes in the world will continue to ignite fan and collector passion.”

The set will mark the first time James has had a trading card bearing his image produced by any manufacturer other than US firm Upper Deck, which James had been partnered with for the past 20 years of his NBA career.

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It also marks the first time in years that the star has autographed cards. The multi-year nature of the deal means that it will likely stretch beyond the playing career of James, who is currently 39.

Fanatics’ partnership with the man who is arguably the biggest name in the NBA today preempts the company’s stewardship of the collectibles rights of the entire NBA.

In 2021, Fanatics agreed an exclusive license deal with the NBA that will see it take over as the exclusive collectibles licensee of the league, upon the expiry of the league’s current contract with Fanatics rival Panini in 2026.

Fanatics has been making a concerted effort to corner the US collectibles market and edge out Panini, which has seen the two embroiled in a bitter dispute.

Fanatics launched its collectibles venture in 2021, and in January 2022 it bought the sports division of major collectibles player Topps for roughly $500 million, and the industry has since seen multiple major leagues and brands jump ship from Panini over to fanatics.