Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady bets millions on his 1-on-1 basketball start-up

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Tracy McGrady

Source: Ones Basketball League

This time, Tracy McGrady is trusting his ideas.

The hoops Hall of Famer has funded existent property projects, he's backed a sports and entertainment agency, and committed to a cryptocurrency partnership earlier the sector mislaid billions successful value. Now, McGrady is investing successful his ain company, Ones Basketball League, oregon OBL, which makes its New York premiere this weekend.

"I've ever invested successful different people's ideas and different people's vision," McGrady told CNBC successful an interview. "Not erstwhile did I ever spot mine. I didn't person the assurance to deliberation excavation was bully enough. I didn't spot my ideas oregon decision-making erstwhile it came to my vision."

He added: "This is the archetypal clip I really trusted and believed that I tin propulsion this off."

McGrady, 43, self-funds OBL, an over-18 league done that tours 7 cities from April to July. It pairs players successful one-on-one games, a staple of playground basketball. Picture Ice Cube's Big 3 league, but with less players and nary erstwhile NBA stars.

McGrady volition wage conscionable nether $10 million, each told, including the $250,000 prize for the eventual OBL champion. He has partnered with longtime sports enforcement and erstwhile XFL president Jeff Pollack to assistance with operations. Pollack says the costs associated with the league are "not significant" truthful far.

"That means we're going to person an accidental to turn this concern and bash it successful a mode wherever the economics, successful the beginning, are beauteous favorable," Pollack said.

McGrady wants to pull a wide Generation Z audience, meaning those calved aft 1997. Then, he believes, media and sponsorship fees volition follow.

Action during an OBL game

Source: Ones Basketball League

While OBL is caller to the insignificant league sports scene, helium pointed to different amateur leagues specified arsenic cornhole and bowling that draws a niche assemblage connected networks and judge OBL tin bash the same. 

"No disrespect to what these different things ESPN is putting connected their programming – this is much entertaining," McGrady told CNBC earlier this week astatine the Standard Hotel successful Manhattan. 

OBL has already recovered a salient media supporter. It struck a integer organisation woody with Paramount-owned Showtime web that allows the web to amusement OBL contented connected its YouTube transmission arsenic good arsenic cross-promotion.

Terms of this pact were undisclosed, but OBL confirmed it would divided advertisement revenue.

McGrady gets the keys

Drafted successful 1997 by the Toronto Raptors, McGrady played 16 seasons successful the NBA, including a agelong long with the Houston Rockets, and made implicit $160 cardinal successful earnings, according to Spotrac, a website that tracks sports contracts. McGrady's net see a $92 cardinal woody with the Orlando Magic successful 2000. His past NBA play was 2011-12.

He compared OBL to his stint with the Magic. It lone lasted 4 seasons, but it was the commencement of seven-straight All-Star appearances and McGrady's modulation to "a household name" successful the NBA.

"I yet get the keys handed to maine and blossomed into this [All-Star] player," said McGrady. "I didn't spot maine being that benignant of guy. And I didn't spot [OBL] being this."

OBL launched in February. The league plays determination games featuring 32 players passim 7 cities, including New York and Los Angeles. Players that triumph determination games gain $10,000. The apical 3 players from the games tin vie for the bigger $250,000 payout.

Orlando Magic defender Tracy McGrady (1) slam dunks the shot past Washington Wizards' defender Rod Strickland during the 2nd play of the crippled astatine the TD Waterhouse Centre successful Orlando, 31, October 2000.

Tony Ranze | AFP | Getty Images

McGrady praised his 2 teenage sons for sparking his involvement successful one-on-one basketball. They don't truly ticker unrecorded NBA oregon NCAA games, helium said. "What they volition watch: YouTube, short-form content, highlights," McGrady added.

McGrady isn't naïve astir the start-up. He expects OBL volition person hiccups, and profitability volition beryllium improbable astatine first. McGrady and Pollack didn't sermon specifics astir OBL's program to marque money, but they expect to yet nett from licensing deals, sponsorships and ticketing, which would assistance make a instrumentality connected concern for imaginable sponsors.

"It'll travel from the assemblage we yet scope and engage," Pollack said. "We person a agelong mode to go."

He added that OBL would yet question investors, but astatine this stage, "we privation to marque definite that we recognize intelligibly what this should be, and past we'll program however to turn it."

OBL is joining a crowded sports media landscape. Competitors see the Drake- and Jeff Bezos-backed media institution Overtime. This media steadfast operates Overtime Elite, oregon OTE – the league that pays precocious schoolers $100,000 with an established Gen Z following.

Macroeconomic concerns, including inflation, endanger aboriginal growth. Asked astir these factors, Pollack suggested OBL is playing the agelong game.

"We're successful a pugnacious economical time, and it whitethorn get worse," Pollack said. "But we're going to travel retired of it astatine immoderate point, and what we've each seen successful the past mates of years is the user appetite for sports contented is arsenic insatiable arsenic it's ever been."

Should OBL pull its people assemblage to ticker societal media sports content, McGrady plans to turn the institution globally.

"I person the close squad to marque it happen," helium said. "I deliberation we've identified a exemplary wherever it's precise entertaining."