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Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is among a few NBA stars who bought into one of America’s fastest growing sports: pickleball.
Major League Pickleball announced Wednesday that an investment group led by James and Maverick Carter, his business partner, has the rights to a professional pickleball team.
Draymond Green, the Golden State Warriors forward, and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love are also involved in the investment group.
It appears the idea originated from Carter, who plays the game, a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong.
“When I started playing pickleball, I immediately connected with the sport’s community and its capacity to be both fun and competitive,” Carter told CNBC. “To see the sport growing in communities all over is really exciting, and we’re looking forward to bringing our expertise together to try and build a championship team.”
Major League Pickleball is growing fast, expanding from 12 to 16 teams next year. Players in the league will also be competing in six tournaments for $2 million in prize money. The final tournament of this year, played from Oct. 14-16 in Columbus, Ohio, will have a $319,000 purse. It’s the largest in pro pickleball history.
“Having SC Holdings, LRMR Ventures and their incredible group as owners and investors in Major League Pickleball is not just great for MLP. It’s a watershed moment for pickleball in general,” MLP founder Steven Kuhn said in a statement. “Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the country, building communities in cities and towns all over the world. This investment and the platform that this group provides will significantly help us with our goal to reach 40 million pickleball players by 2030.”
So, while James, Green and Love look ahead to another NBA season, they’ll also be focused on their new investment.