10 most unlikely startup investments made by NBA legends

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10 most unlikely startup investments made by NBA legends

As the tech industry has heated up in recent years, athletes with an interest in startups have been jumping on deals. Most have stuck to what they know and supported sports-tech companies like CoachUp and The Players’ Tribune. But for some athletes, even that wasn’t enough. Here’s 10 of the most unlikely startup investments made by NBA legends.

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Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks

Anthony invested in Whistle, a company that makes a smart dog collar that relays location information straight to your phone. The NBA star made the investment through his VC fund Melo7 Tech Partners. Not only did he stay in for the Series A and B, he got an exit to Mars Petcare this year. 

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Earvin "Magic" Johnson – Retired

Magic Johnson showed his pasion for social change with a seed investment in Jopwell. The startup built a platform to connect under-represented minorities with job recruiters.

(Image: Getty Images/7th Annual Big Fighters, Big Cause Charity Boxing Night Benefiting The Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation)

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LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers

Even among the Sand Hill crowd, very few can say they had a portfolio company exit to Apple. But, LeBron James sure can. Off the court, James invested in Beats early in 2008 and secured himself a $30 million dollar profit on the $3 billion sale, one of the largest returns on a startup investment ever for an athlete. Of course this is pocket change for James, whose shoe deal with Nike is reportedly worth $1 billion. It will be interesting to see if he pursues future investments.

(Image: Getty Images/The 2016 ESPYS – Show)

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Andre Iguodala – Golden State Warriors

Bullish on e-commerce, Iguodala invested in discount clothing retailer Twice. The company exited to eBay in 2015. In addition to Iguodala, Twice was also backed by Upfront Ventures, SV Angel, and CrunchFund.

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Baron Davis – Delaware 87ers (Retired NBA)

Davis invested early in on-demand flower delivery service, BloomThat. Most would be turned-away by the risk of a seed investment, but not Davis. The Y Combinator-backed company eventually went on to raise a Series A from Forerunner Ventures.

(Image: Getty Images/Iowa Energy v Delaware 87ers)

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Michael Redd – Retired

After leaving the NBA, Redd was recruited by NCT Ventures. While he was at the firm, NCT invested in Azoti, an Ohio based startup that connects food producers and buyers.

(Image: Getty Images/Cleveland Cavaliers vs Milwaukee Bucks)

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Dwight Howard – Atlanta Hawks

Howard invested in Tapiture alongside other celebrities including Hilary Swank. The startup let users find and share web content. After shutting down, the company became part of Playboy.

(Image: Getty Images/Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets – Game Three)

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Steve Nash – Retired

Steve Nash founded Bullish, a fund and consultancy that has backed companies like Casper, Birchbox, and Warby Parker. One of the more fun investments the firm has made was in Kiwi Crate, a company that delivers monthly hands-on projects for kids.

(Image: Getty Images/Steve Nash Retirement Press Conference and Media Availability)

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Shaquille O'Neal – Retired

We might not know exactly how Shaq got his hands on pre-IPO Google shares, but we do know he must have liked the search engine. The basketball legend famously only backs companies that he personally likes as a consumer.

(Image: Getty Images/2016 NBA Finals – Game Two)

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Shane Battier

Battier was an investor in SocialCam, a startup that let users capture, edit, share, and view videos online. The app had 16 million App Store downloads. Autodesk acquired the company in 2012 to help people share designs.

(Image: Getty Images/2016 NBA Finals – Game Three)

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