Former NBA big man Shaq is investing in professional gaming.

Former NBA big man Shaq is investing in professional gaming. September 23, 2016

In an interesting development, ex-NBA star Shaquille O’Neal is now investing in esports — specifically CS:GO and League of Legends. He’ll be buying into the NRG brand. He joins other NBA players Rick Fox (owner of the team Echo Fox), Jeremy Lin, and Jonas Jerebko:

While there is a number of differences separating basketball and CS:GO, Shaquille O’Neal said in an interview with The Red Bulletin’s John Gaudiosi that there is one big commonality between the two.

“Teamwork,” Shaq said. “Five guys working together, practicing together, trusting your brother. That’s what makes a winner. It’s a grind. It takes big time dedication to be the best and build a winner.”

Shaq is one of the investors in NRG eSports, which competes in several esports including LoL and CS:GO. According to Shaq, he hovered around the scene for several years before jumping headfirst into it and investing after watching ELEAGUE Road to Vegas at CES 2016.

“I have been in and around the gaming space for years now,” Shaq said. “I got to witness first-hand at CES this year how exciting the CS:GO world had become and how passionate the fans were and what type of dedicated athletes the players had become. I wanted in. I contacted Andy Miller who co-owns the Sacramento Kings with me and he asked me to become part of NRG eSports. I am totally digging how intense the CS:GO and League of Legends scene is and am excited for our plans to add many more teams and gaming personalities to the NRG mix.”

The esports industry is growing at a ridiculous pace, causing all manner of investors to look into it. Last year it was a bigger industry than hockey. And now with collective bargaining entering the League of Legends scene, that’s likely to only continue.

I think this is incredible. Not only are there so many great stories, but there are many reasons for competitive people like myself to appreciate esports.

The first is that natural physical gifts/limitations are mitigated more so than in other sports. For instance, at 5’8″ and a broad build, I was a basketball player in high school, and a damn good one. Imagine I trained 18 hours each day to become the best basketball player I could. Do I get to play in the NBA? Hell no. 5’8″ people in the NBA are few and far between, even though I’m sure there are gobs of them out there with more skill than taller players. Height simply matters that much in basketball.

But gaming doesn’t have that. Once you’re in the game, almost all of what matters is your skill level.

What’s more, cheating is also harder. While esports does have a list of banned substances, you can’t cheat in-game because all of the rules are hard-coded. You can’t put Vaseline in your pitching glove. You can’t deflate footballs in cold weather.

I could not be more excited about this! This is a great thing for gamers everywhere.

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