Like his fellow sports superstar LeBron James, Tom Brady has made the jump from player to owner by joining an ownership group that just purchased an expansion team for the 2023 Major League Pickleball (MLP) season.
The group, which includes former world No.1 tennis player Kim Clijsters, owns one of four expansion teams that will grow the number of MLP clubs from 12 teams to 16. As part of the expansion, MLP’s events will double from three to six and player prize money and payouts will surpass $2 million.
“Tom Brady, Kim Clijsters and Knighthead Capital Management are champions in their fields and will now be champions for Major League Pickleball,” said MLP Founder Steve Kuhn. “What really shines through in working with these amazing individuals is their passion for the sport. We are thrilled to welcome them to our unrivaled roster of strategic partners, who are individually and collectively instrumental in helping us elevate professional pickleball, showcase the joy it brings to millions of people around the globe, and further our ’40 by 30’ campaign – our mission to reach 40 million pickleball players by 2030.”
That’s an ambitious goal, but it may be an attainable one as pickleball is increasing in popularity by leaps and bounds — even though its players can’t stay on the court due to injury. That hasn’t been an issue for Brady, who started playing the sport four years ago with Knighthead Capital owner Tom Wagner and has explored building a pickleball court at his residence, according to CNBC.
Clijsters, a six-time tennis Grand Slam champion from Belgium, also regularly plays pickleball. “What excites me the most about becoming an MLP owner is that I get to help shape the future of pickleball, a sport I have come to love, with great people – who also happen to be some of my best friends,” she said. “I’m thrilled to help showcase professional pickleball and make an impact on the sport through my experience gained in the top levels of professional tennis.”
In other Brady-related news, the 45-year-old quarterback discussed the controversial roughing-the-passer penalty he drew on Atlanta defensive tackle Grady Jarrett in a win against the Falcons on Sunday during his weekly appearance with Jim Gray on SiriusXM’s Let’s Go! Podcast.
Brady, who totally sold the call, didn’t exactly shower the official who made the call, Jerome Boger, in glory. “It was a long hug, a long unwelcome hug from Grady,” Brady said. “And he was in the backfield all day. So as I said after the games, I don’t throw flags. What I do throw is tablets and I didn’t have one accessible at that time. He had a hell of a game. I’ll leave it at that.”