LeBron James Is Putting His Money Down On A Sport That Isn't Basketball

James joins an ownership group in a sport described as a combination of badminton, tennis and ping-pong.
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Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is expanding his influence on sports by adding professional pickleball team owner to his resume.

James and businessman Maverick Carter — through their office LRMR Ventures — are joining a Major League Pickleball ownership group that includes fellow NBA champions Draymond Green and Kevin Love, the league announced on Wednesday.

It’s unclear how much the team cost, where the team will be and the team’s name, CNBC reported.

The ownership group also includes investment and strategic advisory firm SC Holdings, SpringHill Co. chief marketing officer Paul Rivera and Relevent Sports Group CEO and co-owner Daniel Sillman, the league said.

The group’s interest in pickleball reportedly started based on them playing the sport that is described as a combination of badminton, tennis and ping-pong.

The group’s purchase comes roughly two months after retired Super Bowl-winning quarterback Drew Brees joined an ownership group for Mad Drops Pickleball Club.

The group also featured part-owner of James’ Lakers — Jim Buss — as well as “Million Dollar Listing New York” star and Serhant founder/CEO Ryan Serhant.

Steven Kuhn, founder of Major League Pickleball, said the involvement of James’ group with his league is a watershed moment for the sport.

“Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the country, building communities in cities and towns all over the world,” Kuhn said.

“This investment and the platform that this group provides will significantly help us with our goal to reach 40 million pickleball players by 2030.”

Major League Pickleball is set to expand from 12 to 16 teams, according to the league, and six U.S. cities will host tournaments where athletes play for over $2 million in 2023.

“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.”

The league, like Akron native James, has ties to Ohio, as well.

The league’s 2022 season will come to a close in Columbus, Ohio, next month as 48 players compete in an event where the victorious team secures an $100,000 prize, the league said.

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