Major League Pickleball just landed its biggest investment yet.
A group of investors led by LeBron James, Draymond Green and Kevin Love purchased one of four expansion teams coming to the growing pickleball league next season.
"Having LRMR Ventures, SC Holdings and their incredible group as owners and investors in Major League Pickleball is not just great for MLP, but it's a watershed moment for pickleball in general," MLP founder Steve Kuhn told Owen Poindexter of Front Office Sports.
MLP is set to expand by four teams for next season, bringing its total to 16. Former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Milwaukee Bucks governor Marc Lasry are among the high-profile sports figures to previously invest in a team.
MLP did not divulge the name of the new team boasting the trio of past NBA champions as owners. It's not clear how much a new franchise cost the group, which also includes investment firm SC Holdings, Relevent Sports Group co-owner and CEO Daniel Sillman and SpringHill Company CMO Paul Rivera.
Pickleball, a racket sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a massive boom as people sought safe outdoor activities, and it has continued to grow even as pandemic-related closures and other safety measures have been scaled back.
About 4.8 million people played pickleball in the United States last year, according to a survey conducted by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. MLP seeks to grow that number to 40 million by 2030.
Even if that goal seems lofty beyond reasonable expectation, the addition of James, in particular, should help spark awareness for the sport.
MLP launched in 2021 and is competing with the Professional Pickleball Association for the marketshare.