As you’re probably aware, NBA star James Harden recently invested in soccer to the tune of a 5 percent ownership stake in the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash. Harden isn’t the first NBA player to invest in soccer and with basketball and soccer crossover culture becoming more and more popular, he likely won’t be the last. What is it about soccer that can attract the deep pockets of NBA stars?
Why soccer, why now?
- In a league like MLS where several expansion teams are likely to be added to the pot, now is the time to invest. Get in now at an affordable rate, so it can pay off later.
- Soccer is hot. Like, really hot. For an NBA player, investing in a team can mean growing your brand to a wider, non-basketball audience. With a new audience comes new endorsement and sponsorship opportunities. Diversify your portfolio!
- Deeper connection to a market. James Harden is a great example here. What better way to solidify your place in a market like Houston than with your pocketbook. It helps his image, it helps his brand, and it helps strengthen the connection between local professional sports teams.
- Soccer might be hot, but it’s also cool. It’s trendy. It’s hip. Ask Michael Jordan how Jordan Brand’s collab with PSG is going. I’m sure he’ll tell you it’s going $wimmingly. The NBA and soccer and becoming more and more linked in pop culture.
Join the club
Of couse James Harden isn’t the first NBA player to dip his toes into the soccer world. The most notable example on a global stage is probably LeBron James, who, in 2011, bought into Liverpool’s new ownership group thanks to John Henry and Fenway Sports Group. His 2 percent stake, then valued at $6.5M, is now worth over $30M. In MLS, there are two well-known examples of NBA crossover. Former NBA MVP Steve Nash, a great soccer player in his own right, purchased ownership stake in the Vancouver Whitecaps prior to their jump to MLS. Beyond MLS and the Whitecaps, Nash is also a part-owner of RCD Mallorca in Spain who were just promoted to La Liga. And then there’s NBA legend Magic Johnson, who is part of LAFC’s large ownership consortium.
The NBA is full of players who are massive soccer fans, from Joel Embiid and John Collins, to Josh Richardson and Larry Nance Jr. So, it begs the question – which player is next to join the soccer ownership party? As LeBron has already illustrated, the right investment in the right team can be a slam dunk.