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LeBron James invests in Major League Pickleball team
NBA star LeBron James has become a Major League Pickleball (MLP) owner as a part of a consortium that includes NBA champions Draymond Green and Kevin Love.
With the ownership consortium in place, MLP stated that it aims to expand the community beyond its current participants into more diverse communities globally.
MLP will have 16 teams instead of 12 in 2023, and players will compete in six events spread over six cities for more than US$2 million.
The Miami Open tournament director and former US tennis champion James Blake are among the high-profile owners on MLP's list, which also includes Super Bowl champion Drew Brees and co-owner Marc Lasry of the Milwaukee Bucks.
The league, which was established in 2021, identifies itself as the "standard-bearer" for pickleball in the US.
The tennis-like game of pickleball, which was created in 1965, has been labeled the fastest-growing sport in the US, where there are reportedly 4.8 million players.
The sport’s global governing body, the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) has around 70 member nations but is yet to be recognized by the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF). USA Pickleball has approximately 56,000 members.
James and his fellow investors will feel they are on to a winner, but the sport is still taking shape.