Rick Fox is the definition of Hollywood. The former Lakers stalwart and three-time NBA titlist has made an off-court killing using his made-for-TV looks to act, model, dance and serve as a basketball analyst. Now, the 13-year basketball pro is running a fast break into eSports with the reported $1 million purchase of Gravity Gaming.
“As a professional athlete, businessman and proud member of the gaming community, I see the way that the eSports world is growing and I know we are on the verge of something massive,” Fox said in a statement. “The opportunity to parlay my experience in sports, entertainment and gaming into a leadership role with Echo Fox is exciting and humbling. This decision is equal parts business and personal for me.”
Gravity Gaming will be rebranded to Echo Fox in the next “League of Legends” competition.
“The desire, focus, dedication and work ethic that I have seen from athletes in the eSports space reminds me of the competition I felt as I pursued a career in basketball,” Fox added. “My passion was supported and embraced by society and, as owner of Echo Fox, I plan to be an advocate for our athletes in the same way.”
The news might take Fox’s casual fans by surprise, but it’s a natural move for him since he’s been championing eSports for a long time. His son, a sophomore in college, is a professional video gamer who’s educated and enlightened his father of the legitimacy behind eSports. Last year, Fox appeared on The View and declared pro gamers as professional digital athletes.
Fox is also a partner at Twin Galaxies, the official video game world-record and player-ranking authority; he’s donated his three championship rings to the fundraiser #Right2Game, which supports professional gaming; and earlier this month, he used his platform on NBA TV to ask Jazz forward and avid gamer Gordon Hayward about TSM’s acquisition of Doublelift.
Getting public figures like Fox not to mention world class athletes to empower the estimated 200 million eSports players in the world is a sizable leap in legitimizing an industry that s expected to grow overall revenue from around $300 million this year to $1 billion by 2018.
To draw a quick parallel, 19.9 million watched the 2015 NBA Finals, compared to the more than 27 million people who watched the 2014 League of Legends World Championship. The staggering statistics should have marketers foaming at the lips.
Fox is an athlete with a Swiss-army knife-like résumé off the hardwood floor. With the news of him now courting his own team, eSports just took another quick step forward real quick.