Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, and LeBron James wants a piece of the action. The NBA veteran and his LRMR Ventures partner Maverick Carter are buying a Major League Pickleball expansion franchise, the league announced Wednesday.
The Lakers star is already a part owner of MLB‘s Boston Red Sox, English Premier League’s Liverpool FC, NHL‘s Pittsburgh Penguins and RFK Racing. Draymond Green and Kevin Love are also investing in the pickleball team. The name of the club and financial terms are yet to be disclosed.
Joining the NBA players are investment firm SC Holdings, The SpringHill Company CMO Paul Rivera, and Relevent Sports Group co-owner and CEO Daniel Sillman. They have been added to a list of other high-profile MLP owners that include former NFL player and Super Bowl champion Drew Brees, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks Marc Lasry.
“Pickleball is one of the most exciting growth opportunities in sports because of its committed and engaged community across the U.S.,” Managing Partner of SC Holdings Jason Stein said in a statement.
“People are obsessed with the game, as both participants and fans, and we’re excited to use our collective experience and expertise across sports, media, and entertainment to reach new participants and expand the community. We’re thrilled to become partners of Major League Pickleball – which as a league and sport is just getting started.”
MLP is relatively new, but it is already showing how fast it can grow. The league debuted in 2021 with eight teams and expanded to 12 teams for 2022. MLP is adding four more clubs next year. For the 2023 season, players will compete in six tournaments across six cities in the United States for more than $2 million.
The 2022 season is wrapping up Oct. 14-16 in Columbus, Ohio. Students from James’ I PROMISE Program in Akron will be in attendance.
“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,” said MLP Founder Steve Kuhn in the official press release. “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.”