Pickleball has become the fastest-growing sport in America, a boom that can be largely credited to LeBron James.
Major League Pickleball founder Steve Kuhn recently told TMZ Sports that James’ decision to invest in the league sparked billions of interest.
“This year, stories about Major League Pickleball hit 11 billion eyeballs,” Kuhn said. “And the LeBron announcement alone was four billion.”
James, alongside fellow NBA’ers Kevin Love and Draymond Green, invested in a new MLP team this past October. The trio of stars are hardly alone as athletes who have gotten in on the pickleball craze. Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees, Kevin Durant and Naomi Osaka are among those who own teams in the league.
MLP will have 24 operating teams in 2023 — doubling its number of teams from the previous season. In addition, the league will offer a relegation and promotion system. The amount of events will double from three to six.
Maverick Carter, James’ business partner, is also an investor in the league. He told the outlet earlier this month that pickleball could be attractive option for those looking to play another sport.
“Those that play tennis that may be, you know, average or a little bit above average could be really great at this,” Paul said. “It may be a little more lucrative. If I was someone who played a different sport that was kind of, what I would say would be an evolution or somewhat similar to another sport, and it was new, and it was hot and lucrative, I would take a look at it myself.”
Could LeBron James Play in MLP?
There is nothing stopping James, or any team owner, from playing in MLP if they wanted to. Travis Rettenmaier, a retired professional tennis player, is one of the owners of the Florida Smash pickleball. His own team drafted him ahead of last season.
“Yes, we would welcome LeBron or Draymond or Kevin Love to think about playing,” Anne Worcester, MLP’s strategic advisor, told CNBC this past September.