Hornets' LaMelo Ball Launches Esports Brand 'MB1 Gaming' with One Up

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 26, 2022

Charlotte Hornets' LaMelo Ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball is launching his own esports brand called MB1 Gaming in conjunction with esports technology firm One Up.

According to Shawn Grant of The Source, Ball said the following regarding his decision to delve into esports:

"When I am not playing and focusing on basketball, I'm gaming. This was a way to extend my brand to new fans and empower a next generation of esports athletes to compete and monetize their skills. MB1 will be the destination for the gamer who wants to compete and be a part of my gaming community."

MB1 Gaming and One Up have already announced an NBA All-Star Weekend NBA 2K22 Invitational with a prize pool of $25,000.

Per Grant, the tournament will begin Feb. 5 and the top four finalists will advance to Cleveland, where they will compete on Feb. 18 during NBA All-Star Weekend.

The winner of the tournament will receive $20,000, while each of the finalists will receive a pair of signature Puma MB.01 shoes.

In just his second season, Ball is already among the most popular, exciting players in the NBA.

After going third overall in the 2020 draft, LaMelo averaged 15.7 points, 6.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game en route to being named Rookie of the Year.

He has been even better this season, averaging 19.0 points, 7.6 assists, 7.3 rebounds, 2.6 three-pointers made and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 41.6 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Ball also has the 26-21 Hornets trending toward potentially reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

The 20-year-old will be in Cleveland for All-Star Weekend regardless because of MB1 Gaming's inaugural tournament, but he might have some other business to attend to in the form of the NBA All-Star Game.