Shaq, A-Rod among NRG eSports’ latest investors

by
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports / USA TODAY Sports

NRG eSports is getting some attention from big names in mainstream sports.

Former NBA star and part-owner of the Sacramento Kings, Shaquille O'Neal, New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez and Chicago White Sox shortstop Jimmy Rollins have all invested in NRG, the organization announced Thursday.

Meanwhile, O'Neal made sure his esports entrance was a little more animated.


"I feel it legitimizes the space a little bit, it helps legitimize the idea that these guys really are athletes when other athletes recognize them," NRG co-owner Andy Miller told theScore esports. "There's lots of things that we as weekend warrior athletes will never go through, and they realize that these people are athletes.

"They're putting everything they have, their whole world into becoming the best at what they do."

Miller says that his existing relationship with O'Neal as co-owners of the Sacramento Kings helped them get him involved.

"He was really interested in the space, he was involved in the Turner, TBS esports pavilion, this was something he was participating in," Miller said. "He's a co-owner with me of the Kings as well as my co-owner Mark Mastrov, and he and Mark have a great relationship so he said, 'Hey I want to do this, let's figure it out,' and it was a no-brainer."

O'Neal is also not the only ex-LA Lakers player to enter the world of esports. His former teammate, Rick Fox, founded Echo Fox last year, and currently owns a League of Legends team and a CS:GO team.

Meanwhile, Miller says Rollins approached them after getting interested in the esports scene.

"He'd played a little League of Legends, thought it was amazing, read some articles said this is something he thought paralleled a lot of what he saw in the sports world and he wanted to become an investor," he said. "He was amazing to talk to, really knowledgeable, and well-thought out."

Finally, Mastrov also had an existing relationship with Rodriguez, who they approached because of his personal brand.

"We thought he would just be such a great fit because of his experiences, his longevity and being a player on a big stage at such an early age, very similar to our guys," Miller said.

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. He dropped dunk stats in favor of wordplay. You can follow him on Twitter.