Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James shares a laugh with staff members during the NBA basketball team’s Media Day Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, in El Segundo, Calif. Jae C. Hong/AP hide caption
toggle caption Jae C. Hong/AP
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is buying a professional pickleball team, along with fellow NBA champions Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors.
The trio is part of an ownership group for Major League Pickleball, which currently has 12 four-person teams, but will be expanding 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 tennis-like sport that is played inside and outside, with either a single player or two players on both sides of the net using paddles to hit the ball back and forth.
The number of pickleball players is now at 4.8 million — almost double the number from just five years ago, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.
About 60% of players are men and 40% are women. Most of pickleball’s core players — those who play more than eight times per year — are over age 65, but the game is getting younger, with the strongest growth among players under 55, according to SFIA.