AUSTIN, Texas (WJW) —Former Cavs champ and current Laker, LeBron James, has joined with former teammate Kevin Love and former championship opponent Draymond Green to form a new professional pickleball ownership group.
The new Major League Pickleball group includes LRMR Ventures, the Akron office of James and entrepreneur Maverick Carter; Love; Green; investment firm SC Holdings; SpringHill Company CMO Paul Rivera; and Relevant Sports Group co-owner and CEO Daniel Sillman.
It’s expected to help MLP bring the sport to more diverse communities worldwide, according to a Wednesday news release from the league.
“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,” Founder Steve Kuhn is quoted in a 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.”
The league’s slate of 12 teams is expected to expand to 16, according to the release.
It offers prize payouts for players. In 2023, six tournaments across the country will award more than $2 million, according to the release.
In this year’s season finale set for Oct. 14 to Oct. 16, dozens of players will compete in Columbus for $319,000, the league’s largest single purse, including a top prize of $100,000. Students of the Akron-based LeBron James Family Foundation’s I Promise Program are expected to be there.
“Pickleball is one of the most exciting growth opportunities in sports because of its committed and engaged community across the U.S.,” Jason Stein, managing partner of SC Holdings, is quoted in the release. “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.”
The league is soon expected to announce more owners. Its roster already includes Super Bowl champion Drew Brees, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, World No. 4 tennis player James Blake and others.