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Athletes

British NBA Star Invests in Rising London Team

  • Toronto Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby is buying a minority stake in the London Lions.
  • He is looking to boost the U.K.'s fledgling basketball market.
Toronto Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby (3) drives the ball against Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III (44) in the first quarter at TD Garden.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

A basketball league aspiring to be the second-biggest in the world is getting a boost from an NBA star.

Toronto Raptors small forward Ogugua “O.G.” Anunoby Jr. is buying a minority stake in the London Lions, a private-equity-owned team in the emerging British Basketball League that became the first British team to qualify for the EuroCup playoffs earlier this month.

U.K. basketball is still in its fledgling stages, with private-equity firm 777 Partners working to fuel the league’s rise.

“It blows our mind that basketball isn’t bigger in London, and we know the reasons why,” Juan Arciniegas, 777 managing director, told Front Office Sports, citing a lack of government investment.

Anunoby became the first British player to win an NBA championship with the Raptors in 2019.

“I just want to do my part as a role model to all the young hoopers in London and across the entire U.K.,” he said.

777 seeks to fill an investment gap left by the U.K. government while uplifting minority communities in London. A 2019-2020 survey found that 47% of British people who play basketball are non-white — far more than other sports. 

London Lions player hangs on rim after big dunking during a game

The Fight to Make Basketball Matter in the United Kingdom

Investment firm 777 Partners is investing heavily in U.K. basketball.
December 4, 2022

Basketball Africa Investment

The British Basketball League is playing catchup to the NBA-backed Basketball Africa League, which launched in 2021. Retired players Grant Hill, Dikembe Mutombo, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Junior Bridgeman featured among initial investors at a $1 billion valuation.

The league, in its third season, features 12 teams, each from a different African nation.

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