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Friday, November 27, 2020

NBL: Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo invests in NZ Breakers

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Watching American youngster LaMelo Ball play for the Illawarra Hawks last season inspired this NBA star to invest in the league.

Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo is set to join the New Zealand Breakers’ ownership group in a major coup for the NBL.

Oladipo, a two-time NBA All-Star, told The Associated Press in the United States that he and business manager Jay Henderson had joined the Breakers’ ownership group.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it will make the 28-year-old one of the world’s youngest basketball team owners – and the owner of the New Zealand club’s home venue, Spark Arena.

Oladipo joins fellow current and former NBA players with ownership in the NBL, including Andrew Bogut, Zach Randolph and Dante Exum.

He said he first became interested in the league after watching American youngster LaMelo Ball play for the Illawarra Hawks last season and jumped at the opportunity to be part of it.

Ball is tipped to be a top-three pick in Thursday’s NBA draft (from 11.30am AEST) after excelling with the Hawks last season as the NBL’s Rookie of the Year.

“I definitely think this (NBL) league is growing, I know it’s growing,” Oladipo said. “It’s really competitive. I actually saw a few games when LaMelo was playing, and I think it’s becoming a hot commodity.

“I was always interested in being part of team ownership, having input with a team and helping a team be successful on the business side of things.

“To work with a team from this perspective, I’m sure I’ll have new-found respect for the guys who have been in that position.”

Oladipo has never travelled to New Zealand but has promised to make at least one trip per year to Auckland where the team is based.

The Breakers have been one of the league’s most successful and consistent franchises, with only two losing seasons since 2007-08.

The New Zealand-based side won three consecutive NBL titles from 2011-13, claimed a fourth title in 2015 and finished as the league runner-up in 2016.

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