Golden State Warriors stars Draymond Green and LeBron James may be rivals on the basketball court, but now they’re partners on another.
Competitors and longtime friends have entered one of America’s fastest growing sports and have teamed up to acquire an expansion franchise in Major League Pickleball. The league announced the new partnership this week, which also includes a former James Cleveland Cavaliers teammate as an investor.
Warriors Big Man invests in new sport
The new partnership was unveiled in a statement from Major League Pickleball, which noted that it is pursuing an “aggressive growth plan to become the premier professional pickleball league in America.” James and his business partner Maverick Carter announced they were buying a team, with Green and Kevin Love also joining as investors.
The ownership group also includes investment firm SC Holdings, whose managing partner, Jason Stein, became aware of Pickleball’s rapid growth. The league debuted with eight teams in 2021 and expanded to 12 teams in 2022 and 16 in 2023.
“People are obsessed with the game, both as participants and fans, and we look forward to using our collective experience and expertise across sports, media and entertainment to reach new participants and grow the community.” said Stone. “We are very excited to be partnering with Major League Pickleball – which is just beginning as a league and sport.”
The league has garnered a number of other famous owners, including former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, tennis star James Blake, and Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry. The league mentioned that more growth will come as new teams are added and new owners brought in.
Although Green and the Warriors fought four times with James and his Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, the two became very close off the court. The two were spotted in August celebrate together in Toronto. Green has publicly praised James and has appeared in media from James’ production companies.
Green expands business relationships
The investment could be part of a long-term business strategy by Green, who said he wants to become a billionaire before he turns 40.
“I want to be a billionaire. I want to be a multi-billionaire,” Green said in a 2017 appearance on Uninterrupted, a show hosted by James’ digital media company, via CNBC. “I don’t have an exact number, but I just want to become a billionaire first and that’s my goal. I want to do this by the time I’m 40. A difficult task for sure, but I think I can achieve it.”
Green added that he wasn’t always this money savvy, especially when he first came to the NBA, but he soon set some bigger financial goals.
“I didn’t hire a financial advisor in my first year. I said I’ll do this alone. I want to learn to pay bills. I want to learn how money works, and if I screw up, I screw up,” says Green. “I can’t live the rest of my life on those 400 grand that I’m taking home anyway, but I can teach myself about money.”
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