Magic Johnson becomes the latest Laker to invest in eSports
One of the biggest names in eSports, Team Liquid, is joining forces with some of the biggest names in the NBA.
On Tuesday, the professional video game franchise announced the sale "controlling interest" in the organization to Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber and Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis. Guber and Leonsis are joined by a number of other investors, including Tony Robbins (yes, that Tony Robbins), Warriors executive Rick Welts, Los Angeles Dodgers CFO Tucker Cain, and, most notably, Lakers legend Magic Johnson.
The move comes one day after the Philadelphia 76ers announced the acquisition of two eSports teams of their own. In a vacuum, it's not particularly huge news. Major sports franchises around the world are investing in esports franchises, particularly those focused on League of Legends. Magic's involvement with this group is part of a larger trend that we can't help but notice, though — members of the Lakers' legendary championship teams are taking over eSports.
First, it was Rick Fox, who got into the scene after bonding with his son over video games. Fox is now the owner of Echo Fox, an eSports organization that spans multiple games and focuses on giving players the all-around support they need to be successful in competition. Fox was soon followed by Shaquille O'Neal, who joined Alex Rodriguez as investors in NRG eSports, a team formed by Sacramento Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov. O'Neal is a minority owner of the Kings.
Phil Jackson is even playing a part in the Lakers' eSports revolution, albeit indirectly. Fox said last year that his approach to leading Echo Fox is based on what he learned from Dean Smith and the Zen Master as a player:
Sure. That sounds like a very Phil Jackson thing to say.
That leaves us with just one question: Is Kobe Bryant next? He has to be pretty bored these days, and he did just start a venture capital firm. Plus, it'd be a way to one-up Shaq. If Kobe doesn't want to jump into the broadcast studio for the 2016-17 NBA season, maybe he can give professional video games a shot.