The Shaq wants a piece of the eSports pie.
According to The Daily Dot, retired NBA player Shaquille O’Neal and New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez have invested in NRG eSports, which owns teams that compete in League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Chicago White Sox shortstop Jimmy Rollins—who also plays League of Legends—also joined O’Neal and Rodriguez in contributing to the eSports organization’s latest financing round.
NRG chairman Andy Miller told the news outlet the organization believes the three, who were all “from traditional sports world,” will also contribute towards legitimizing the eSports space.
NRG eSports are owned by Miller and Mark Mastrov, who, incidentally are minority partners of the Sacramento Kings, along with O’Neal.
Miller said the three sports figures approached NRG directly. O’Neal, in particular, has been “circling the space” for a while. The NRG owner did not disclose the size of the investment, telling ESPN.com: “Valuations of teams are still small. They wanted to get in super early as they are seeing the giant viewership numbers that are dwarfing pro sports right now.”
NRG eSports is still a relatively new organization in the rapidly growing eSports space. Miller said the organization is hoping to expand from its current two teams into new games within the next year, and that he has no qualms pulling out the celebrity status of NRG’s newest investors if it means they will be able to sign a player.
The three men are the latest to jump into the eSports fray. Late last year, O’Neal’s former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Rick Fox shelled out $1 million to purchase League of Legends team Gravity Gaming, which has since rebranded as team Echo Fox.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has not only invested in eSports betting startup Unikrn, but also in Swiss sports data company Sportradar AG, which provides data for media and technology companies and daily fantasy sports site FanDuel.