- The Tracy McGrady’s Ones Basketball League held its first Memorial Day weekend in New York.
- The Hall of Famer, who played for several NBA teams including the Magic and Rockets, is spending less than $10 million to support the league.
- McGrady has been involved in other business ventures, but he told CNBC: “This is the first time I’ve really trusted and believed I could pull this off.”
This time Tracy McGrady has faith in his ideas.
The Basketball Hall of Famer has funded real estate projects, has supported a sport and entertainment agency, and committed to a cryptocurrency partnership Before the region lost billions in value. Now, McGrady is investing in his company, the Ones Basketball League, or OBL, which premieres in New York this weekend.
“I’ve always invested in other people’s ideas and other people’s vision,” McGrady told CNBC in an interview. “Not once did I trust myself. I didn’t have the confidence to think that I was good enough. I didn’t trust my thoughts or decision-making when it came to my eyes.”
He added: “It’s the first time I’ve really trusted and believed I could pull this off.”
McGrady, 43, self-funds the OBL, an over-18 league that tours seven cities from April to July. It engages players in a face-to-face game, which is a major part of playground basketball. Image Ice Cube’s Big 3 leagues, but with fewer players and no former NBA stars.
McGrady would pay just under $10 million, all told, including a $250,000 prize for the eventual OBL champion. He has partnered with longtime sports executive and former XFL president Jeff Pollack to help with operations. Pollack says the costs associated with the league are “not significant” so far.
“It means we have an opportunity to grow this business and do it in a way where the economics are, in the beginning, quite favorable,” Pollack said.
McGrady wants to attract a Generation Z audience, which means people born after 1997. Then, He believes, media and sponsorship fees will follow.
While the OBL is new to the minor league sporting scene, he pointed to other amateur leagues such as cornhole and bowling that attract a niche audience on the network and believes the OBL can do the same.
McGrady told CNBC earlier this week at Manhattan’s Standard Hotel, “What’s disrespecting what ESPN is doing on its programming—it’s more entertaining.”
OBL has already got a major media supporter. It struck a digital distribution deal with Paramount-owned Showtime Network that allows the network to show OBL content on its YouTube channel as well as cross-promotion.
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The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but OBL confirmed it would split the advertising revenue.
Crafted in 1997 by the Toronto Raptors, McGrady played 16 seasons in the NBA, including a long stretch with the Houston Rockets, and earned over $160 million in earnings. spottrack, a website that tracks sports contracts. McGrady’s earnings include a $92 million deal with the Orlando Magic in 2000. His last NBA season was 2011–12.
He compared OBL to his tenure with Jadoo. This lasted only four seasons, but it was the beginning of seven-straight All-Star appearances in the NBA and McGrady’s transition to “a household name”.
“I was finally handed the keys and blossomed into [All-Star] player,” McGrady said. “I haven’t seen that type of guy in me. and i didn’t see [OBL] Being it.”
OBL Launch in February, The league plays regional sports involving 32 players in seven cities including New York and Los Angeles. Players who win regional games earn $10,000. The top three players in the Games can compete for a huge payout of $250,000.
McGrady praised his two teenage sons for sparking their interest in face-to-face basketball. They don’t actually watch live NBA or NCAA games, he said. “What they’ll watch: YouTube, short-form content, highlights,” McGrady said.
McGrady isn’t gullible about start-ups. He expects OBL to have hiccups, and unlikely profitability at first. McGrady and Pollack did not discuss specifics about OBL’s plan to make money, but they hope to eventually profit from licensing deals, sponsorship and ticketing, which will help create a return on investment for potential sponsors.
“It will come from the audience that we eventually reach and engage with,” Pollack said. “We have a long way to go.”
He added that OBL will eventually seek investors, but at this stage, “we want to make sure that we have a clear understanding of what this should be, and then we will plan how to develop it.”
OBL is joining a crowded sports media landscape. Contestants include Drake- and Jeff Bezos-backed media company Overtime. This media firm operates the Overtime Elite, or OTE – league, which pays out $100,000 to high schoolers with an established Gen Z.
Macroeconomic concerns, including inflation, threaten rapid growth. Asked about these factors, Pollack suggested that the OBL is playing the long game.
“We are in a tough economic time, and it could get worse,” Pollack said. “But we’re going to come out of it at some point, and what we’ve seen over the years is that consumer appetite for game content is as insatiable as it ever was.”
McGrady plans to grow the company globally if OBL attracts its target audience to watch social media sports content.
“I have the right team to do this,” he said. “I think we’ve identified a model where it’s very entertaining.”
Credit: www.cnbc.com /