The Newsroom Episode 12: Checking in on the 2022 World Cup
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NBA Stars Buying Major League Pickleball Team

  • LeBron James, Draymond Green, and Kevin Love are part of a group buying a Major League Pickleball team.
  • The beloved sport has seen huge growth in recent years.
Design: Alex Brooks

Some NBA champions with a knack for forward-thinking investments are getting in on pickleball as the sport gains popularity across America.

LRMR Ventures, the family office of LeBron James and his business partner Maverick Carter, are purchasing a Major League Pickleball team as part of an all-star consortium.

  • NBA stars Draymond Green and Kevin Love, investment firm SC Holdings, Relevent Sports Group co-owner and CEO Daniel Sillman, and SpringHill Company CMO Paul Rivera are also part of the purchasing group.
  • The team, whose name is yet to be determined, will be part of a four-team MLP expansion to 16 teams.
  • Retired NFL champion Drew Brees, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, and Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry also own MLP teams.

“Having LRMR Ventures, SC Holdings, and their incredible group as owners and investors in Major League Pickleball is not just great for MLP, but it’s a watershed moment for pickleball in general,” said MLP founder Steve Kuhn.

The league’s prize purse across six 2023 tournaments will be more than $2 million.

LRMR Ventures and SC Holdings have linked up before, co-leading a $29 million investment in Canyon Bicycles in July.

Pickleball Mania

A Sports and Fitness Industry Association survey from February found that 4.8 million people in the U.S. played pickleball in 2021, representing average annual growth of 11.5% over five years.

The sport shows impressive age diversity, with all of the five main age brackets representing at least 12% of all players. It is most popular among the 18-34 demographic, which makes up 28.8% of all U.S. players.

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 MLP aims to grow pickleball to 40 million players by 2030.

Editor’s note: SC Holdings is an investor in Front Office Sports.