Tuesday, February 7

Draymond, LeBron form ownership group for pickleball

Draymond Green and LeBron James are intense rivals on the basketball court. Four NBA Finals matchups, a play-in game, countless Christmas games, and one world-famous crotch slap have built up intense animosity between the lines. But off the court, they’re best buddies, with Draymond signing with LeBron’s Klutch Sports agency and guest-starring on his HBO show, The Shop. They even partied together at Draymond’s wedding this summer.

So it’s not a surprise that the two teamed up to buy an expansion franchise in Major League Pickleball, along with Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

You may be asking yourself, what is pickleball? James Dator has an excellent explainer, but it’s basically tennis for children, played by adults. Like Golden State Warriors legend Rick Barry, who won a gold medal in senior doubles at the Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships last year. Pickleball uses large paddles and hollow balls to create a small-court, very loud hybrid version of tennis and badminton. As far as the format goes, Major League Pickleball team matches “are composed of four games (women’s doubles, men’s doubles, and two mixed doubles), with a unique Dreambreaker™ singles tiebreaker.” What’s a Dreambreaker? I’m sorry, you’re going to have to look that up yourself, but I always think a “dreambreaker” is the dagger three Steph Curry hits to eliminate a playoff team.

LeBron and Draymond have teamed up, but the world of pickleball is still full of rivalries. The International Pickleball Federation doesn’t get along with the World Federation of Pickleball. The Association of Pickleball Professionals and the Professional Pickleball Association were competitors, with the PPA banning any player who plays for its rivals – including newcomers Major League Pickleball. Is there really enough pickleball interest to support three professional leagues? Probably not.

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That didn’t stop MLP from expanding from 12 teams to 16 this season, which created the investment opportunity for the NBA group. Here are the current teams:

  • The 5s (not a great name)
  • Jackrabbits
  • ATX Pickleballers (kind of like naming your team the Golden State Basketball Players)
  • Mad Drops Pickleball Club (seemingly named by a 55-year-old British man trying to sound hip)
  • Clean Cause (voluntarily drug-testing themselves?)
  • Chimeras (fictional mutant creatures?)
  • Lions
  • Florida Smash (also Ron DeSantis’s campaign slogan)
  • The Bus (maybe they want to sign Jerome Bettis?)
  • BLQK (sponsored by a coffee company, stands for Building Legacies for our Queens and Kings)
  • Ranchers
  • Hard Eights (R.I.P. Philip Baker Hall)

Sounds like LeBron and Draymond will have to spend at least three or four minutes on choosing a team name for their expansion franchise that matches the high standards of Major League Pickleball. Some suggestions:

  • The Rogaines
  • Four-Time NBA Champions
  • Klutch Hitters
  • Failed Tennis Players
  • Podcasters
  • Bankrupt By 2024

Good luck to LeBron, Draymond, Rick Barry, and pickleballers everywhere! This is totally a real sport.

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