Bloomberg Business

January 10, 2020

NBA Union Creates Accelerator to Aid Players’ Business Ventures

National Basketball Association superstars LeBron James and Kevin Durant have become serial investors, lending their names, ideas and money to a number of business ventures and startups.

Their union wants to help all of its members with similar off-court aspirations follow suit. To that end, the National Basketball Players Association is creating an accelerator program that’s open to current and former members.

The program will operate in conjunction with Mark Patricof’s Patricof Co, which describes itself as a highly specialized private investment platform designed to meet the unique needs and opportunities of professional athletes. The firm’s clients include Henrik Lundqvist, Venus Williams, J.J. Watt and Todd Gurley

The union says the program will offer select player-led companies a number of benefits, including mentorship, exposure to like-minded entrepreneurs and access to resources of the NBPA, Patricof Co and undisclosed program sponsors. The accelerator includes a three-day training camp in June that culminates in a final pitch to a panel of professional investors.

“Our members are more than basketball players. They are investors, businessmen, entrepreneurs and stewards of their personal brands,” union Executive Director Michele Roberts said in a statement. “This program will provide additional resources to grow their businesses in a creative and competitive environment.”

To participate, prospective companies must have active involvement by a current or former basketball-union member, and have received no more than one round of venture funding.

Patricof, an investment banker, has advised and invested in a number of digital media and entertainment companies and transactions. He previously was managing director and co-head of the technology, media and telecom practice at Houlihan Lokey, an investment bank. Among the deals he worked on was the bankruptcy sale of Gawker Media to Univision Communications Inc.