LeBron James is looking to capitalize on the pickleball craze that is sweeping the nation.
The Lakers superstar and his longtime business partner Maverick Carter are buying a professional pickleball team, the Austin, Texas-based Major League Pickleball announced.
James, whose vast business portfolio includes stakes in MLB’s Boston Red Sox and English soccer team Liverpool, and Carter are headlining an ownership group that includes fellow NBAers Draymond Green and Kevin Love.
“The new ownership group announced today brings unparalleled experience and impact across sports, media, entertainment, and branding,” the league said in a statement.
“With this group, MLP aims to expand the community beyond its current participants into more diverse communities globally.”
Other high-profile celebrities and entrepreneurs have bought ownership stakes in pro pickleball teams.
Online entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk; self-help guru Brené Brown; Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry; former professional tennis player James Blake; and former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Drew Brees have invested in professional pickleball.
The game also has attracted intense fan interest from celebs including Kevin Durant and the Kardashian family.
“Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the country, building communities in cities and towns all over the world,” said MLP founder Steve Kuhn.
“This investment and the platform that this group provides will significantly help us with our goal to reach 40 million pickleball players by 2030.”
Pickleball is a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. Between two and four players stand on opposite sides of a badminton-sized court that is cut in half by a net. They then use paddles to hit a ball back-and-forth.
Though pickleball was first played nearly five decades ago, it has exploded in popularity in recent years as players are drawn to the game thanks to its low startup costs and short learning curve.