LeBron James, the businessman, is back at it.
He’s once again stepping off the basketball court to bolster his billionaire status thanks to… pickleball.
That’s right, the future hall of fame is buying a pickleball team, a sport that’s been rising in popularity over the last few years that’s a mix between tennis, ping pong, and badminton. So King James and long-time business partner Maverick Carter are teaming up to buy into the Major League Pickleball (MLP) as it looks to expand from 12 to 16 teams in 2023. A new round of funding has also allowed the league to expand to six cities nationwide.
James and Carter are joined by Draymond Green and Kevin Love as the latest group of investors to become interested in the sport. In fact, many of those suddenly putting their money behind pickleball have also begun playing it recently.
“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 in an interview. “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.”
Ohio boys Carter and James are investing through their joint family office, LRMR Ventures, which also handles most of the King’s wealth and global marketing.
Financial details of the deal and the name of James’ team have yet to be announced.
James has also invested in other sports leagues, including the Fenway Sports Group, which owns MLB’s Boston Red Sox, English soccer team Liverpool Football Club, and NASCAR team Roush Fenway Racing. The feat made him the first Black part-owner of the Sox.
“It gives me and people that look like me, hope and inspiration that they can be in a position like that as well. That it can be done. It’s a pretty amazing thing and for me to be able to continue to build my portfolio off the floor also in a beautiful game like baseball,” James said when that deal went through.