If you’re one of those people who thinks eSports are “silly” or “stupid”, then you might want to start reconsidering that stance. Retired NBA superstar and Inside the NBA analyst Shaquille O’Neal, New York Yankees player Alex Rodriguez, and Chicago White Sox shortstop Jimmy Rollins are all investing in NRG eSports, which owns teams in League of Legends and Counter-Strike.
“We think they will help legitimize the space,” NRG’s chairman, Andy Miller, told the Daily Dot. “They all come from the traditional sports world. They were all unbelievably young when they became professionals, like our guys.”
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) March 17, 2016
Miller said that Shaq, Rodriguez, and Rollins approached NRG directly. Miller and Shaq co-own the Sacramento Kings basketball team, and Rollins is actually a League of Legends player.
“Valuations of teams are still small,” Miller told ESPN.com. “They wanted to get in super early as they are seeing the giant viewership numbers that are dwarfing pro sports right now.”
Although Shaq and A-Rod are the biggest names thus far to enter eSports, this isn’t the first time someone from the traditional sports world has entered the scene. This past December, O’Neal’s former Los Angeles Lakers teammate, Rick Fox, purchased a team which is now known as Echo Fox. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is an investor in eSports betting startup Unikrn. He also participated in a League of Legends showmatch at last November’s IEM San Jose and was rumored to be interested in purchasing a team.
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