Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James is among several major names reportedly buying a new franchise in a first-of-its-kind sports league.
LRMR Ventures, the family office of James and his longtime business partner, CEO Maverick Carter, is teaming with investment firm SC Holdings, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, The SpringHill Company CMO Paul Rivera, and Relevent Sports Group co-owner and CEO Daniel Sillman as part of a new ownership group for Major League Pickleball, according to a PRNewswire news release.
"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," said MLP Founder Steve Kuhn. "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."
MLP plans to expand from 12 to 16 teams, which will include the new franchise owned by James and company.
Other previous MLP investors and team owners include NFL legend Drew Brees, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, tennis star James Blake, and others.
The four-time NBA champion netted $121.2 million in total earnings last year, increasing his official net work to $1 billion, joining the likes of Michael Jordan and the late Kobe Bryant, both of whom exceeded their respective $1 billion net worths after retirement from their Hall of Fame playing careers.
"It’s my biggest milestone,” James told GQ in 2014 about the potential of one day becoming a billionaire. “Obviously. I want to maximize my business. And if I happen to get it, if I happen to be a billion-dollar athlete, ho. Hip hip hooray! Oh, my God, I’m gonna be excited."
James is currently the NBA's highest-paid active player and has earned more than $385 million during his 18-year NBA career during stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2003-10; 2014-18), Miami Heat (2010-14), and Lakers (2018-present), as well as upwards of $900 million in endorsements -- which include a lifetime agreement with Nike paying tens of millions annually, as well as AT&T, Pepsi and Walmart -- and other business ventures, which includes a stake in Fenway Sports Group, the parent company of the Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Liverpool F.C.
James's $121.2 million earned in 2022 also ranked as the highest-paid athlete in North America and the second-highest-earning athlete in the world, trailing only Paris Saint-Germain's Lionel Messi, who made $130 million in 2022.