NBA stars LeBron James, Draymond Green and Kevin Love are branching out from basketball and making a bold investment in a different sports league.
Front Office Sports reported Wednesday that the trio has joined with other investors to purchase a Major League Pickleball team in hopes of capitalizing on the sport’s growing popularity.
“LeBron, Draymond and Love may have just boarded a rocket ship. There are 66 new places to play pickleball opening up in the U.S. every month — and (Major League Pickleball) aims to grow pickleball to 40 million players by 2030,” the article said.
As of 2021, around 5 million Americans played pickleball, CNBC reported.
Although pickleball has been around since the 1960s, it became a major phenomenon during the COVID-19 pandemic.
James’ business partner, Maverick Carter, told CNBC that he wanted to buy the pickleball team in part because he loves playing pickleball so much.
“When I started playing pickleball, I immediately connected with the sport’s community and its capacity to be both fun and competitive,” he said.
Pickleball, which involves using a paddle to hit a ball back and forth across a net, is similar to tennis, badminton or pingpong, as the Deseret News reported earlier this year. Matches require two or four people, but many players often get involved in leagues or tournaments in their area and meet even more folks.
Teams in the Major League Pickleball league have four players — two men and two women — and compete against one another for cash prizes. In 2022, there were 12 teams, but the NBA stars’ new team will be part of a four-team expansion.
The league “will be expanding from 12 to 16 teams in 2023, with players competing in six tournaments across six U.S. cities for more than $2 million in prizes,” CNBC reported.
Retired NFL quarterback Drew Brees and Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry also own Major League Pickleball teams, according to Front Office Sports.