John Wall has officially become the latest in a series of current and former NBA players to purchase a stake in an NBL team, joining the South East Melbourne Phoenix's ownership group.
The Washington Wizards' five-time NBA All-Star is still in the midst of his playing career - entering the second year of a four-year, $171 million deal - but has expanded his horizons by becoming part of a high-profile group of stake-holders for the Phoenix; a franchise owned by Los Angeles-based entrepreneur, Romie Chaudhari.
Wall will join Zach Randolph, Al Harrington, Josh Childress, and Australia's Danté Exum in the team's ownership group, and says he plans to travel to South East Melbourne when COVID-19 travel restrictions are no longer in place.
"I'm so excited to be coming onboard with the Phoenix," Wall said.
"I love the vision that both Romie and Tommy (Greer) have shared with me and am really impressed with what they've been able to create over the first season. I know there is plenty I can contribute to the growth of the franchise and I'm especially looking forward to getting down to South East Melbourne and meeting the team and the fans when travel restrictions are lifted."
Joining ownership consortiums of NBL teams has become a trend, of sorts, for NBA players over the past few seasons, with Wall becoming the 10th to join a growing list.
Kevin Martin became the majority owner of the Brisbane Bullets in September, 2019; John Wall, Exum, Randolph, Childress, and Harrington all have their stake in the Phoenix; Matt Walsh (majority), Shawn Marion, and Victor Oladipo are part of the New Zealand Breakers' ownership group; while Andrew Bogut will be a part-owner of the Sydney Kings when he retires from playing.
The Phoenix are the NBL's youngest active franchise, playing their first season in the league in 2019-20 under CEO Tommy Greer and head coach Simon Mitchell.
"It is a privilege to have John join the Phoenix ownership group," Chaudhari said.
I'm so excited to be part of the @SEMelbPhoenix ownership group. I can't wait to get over to South East Melbourne to meet the team and all the great fans out there! Big season ahead. Follow @SEMelbPhoenix for updates on the squad. #HeartlandStrong— John Wall (@JohnWall) November 25, 2020
"I had the chance to spend some time with him and he is wonderful to work with. I am proud to have him as part of our ownership group. I look forward to watching John grow as an entrepreneur and to seeing him have an extremely successful upcoming NBA season. He has worked very hard getting himself ready and I can't wait to watch him play again."
Greer added: "Adding another current NBA player to our ownership group is extremely exciting for us as an organisation. It's a testament to Romie's vision for the club and just how much the club has been able to achieve over its first season."
The NBL's status among the international basketball community has grown significantly over the past five years, exhibiting a quality brand of basketball, developing a digital and marketing presence that arguably rivals every league outside the NBA, while emerging as a legitimate pathway for both Australians and top American high school recruits.
In the 2020 NBA Draft, the Illawarra Hawks' LaMelo Ball was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 3rd overall pick, while the Breakers' RJ Hampton was taken by the Denver Nuggets with the 24th overall pick.