Jae C. Hong/AP
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is buying a professional pickleball team, along with fellow NBA champions Kevin Love from the Cleveland Cavaliers and Draymond Green from the Golden State Warriors.
The trio are part of an ownership group for Major League Pickleball, which currently has 12 four-person teams but will expand to 16 teams next year.
“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.”
Pickleball is a sport similar to tennis that is played indoors and outdoors, with one player or two players on both sides of the net using paddles to hit the ball back and forth.
The number of pickleball players now stands at 4.8 million, nearly double the number from just five years ago, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.
About 60% of the players are men and 40% are women. Most of the top pickleball players — those who play more than eight times a year — are over 65, but the game is getting younger, with the strongest growth among players under 55, according to SFIA.