NBA Stars and Pickleball

Alexandro Lopez Guzman, A&E Editor

Recently, NBA stars LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Draymond Green are branching out of basketball and coming into an agreement to make a bold investment into an entirely different sports league; pickleball. Pickleball is a game resembling a mix of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong in which players use paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It can be played in singles or doubles, inside or outside on a 20-foot by 44-foot court – approximately the size of a badminton court – and lasts until one side reaches 11 points, with a two-point cushion. It has exploded in popularity in recent times and now NBA superstar LeBron James along with his fellow friends Kevin Love and Draymond Green plan to expand the league exponentially by adding 4 new teams into the league which consisted of just 12 prior to the event. Along with this new ownership group, MLP says it hopes to announce more investment to a list that already includes Super Bowl champion Drew Brees and Tom Brady, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, and former world No. 4 tennis player James Blake.

LeBron James buys into Major League Pickleball team–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTEyMDA7aD03ODY-/

The significance of this for both our stars and the pickleball league is huge! For superstar NBA player LeBron James, it means that he’s once again adding onto his sports portfolio after recently being dubbed into the billionaire club as this is in fact not the first time James has invested in a professional sport. James has invested in Fenway Sports Group, which includes the Red Sox, Penguins, Liverpool FC, and NASCAR’s Roush Fenway Racing. As for the pickleball league (MLP) itself, the joining of James along with other investors to purchase a Major League Pickleball team ensures an increase in popularity and revenue that the MLP hopes of capitalizing on, said Front Office Sports.

As for the fans and supporters of both the game and these stars, they’re excitement cannot be contained. “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,” Jason Stein, who is a managing partner of SC Holdings and is part of the ownership group, said in the release. The sport shows impressive age diversity, with all 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. The 2022 season finale will be in Columbus, Ohio from Oct. 14–16, and the tournament will have the MLP’s largest single-event prize purse—worth $319,000. The winning team will take home $100,000.