Shaquille O’Neal, the former NBA superstar, has become the latest American sports celebrity to put their money into their electronic counterparts.
Joined by baseball players Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins, the three were part of last week’s financial round for eSports team NRG.
NRG fields a League of Legends team currently sitting fifth in the North American Spring Split, and a Counter-Strike team who finished fourth in last week’s Counter Pit League season 2 finals.
The team was formed by the Sacramento Kings co-owner Andy Miller, who recently spoke at the unveiling of the NBA team’s new arena to be opened in October this year.
It’s the most technologically advanced arena in the world, so it’s perfect for eSports,” Miller told Fortune. We have Wi-Fi from Qualcomm (thanks to Kings co-owners Paul and Irwin Jacobs) that’s not even out there yet. This arena is going to be maxed out. We should be playing eSports tournaments there.”
Former NBA investment in eSports is becoming a clash of rivals as O’Neal’s Lakers team-mate Rick Fox also entered the League of Legends arena in December with Echo Fox, a new team sitting two spots below NRG in the Split.
Shaq is also under contract from Turner Broadcasting (for his sports panel show Inside The NBA) the co-owners of WME | IMG’s E-League CS:GO competition, making an appearance on the first tournament at the Consumer Entertainment Show.