After a storied career in the NBA, retired basketball star Dwyane Wade is taking his leadership skills from the court to the front office. According to ESPN, the Chicago native is stepping into the realm of sports ownership as he recently purchased a stake in the Utah Jazz franchise.
The NBA champion has joined forces with majority owner Ryan Smith for the acquisition. Smith—the founder of the software company Qualtrics—invested $1.66 billion in the Utah Jazz in October and connected with Wade to become a part of his ownership group. The collective of individuals includes tech entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes, venture capitalist Ryan Sweeney, businesswoman Gail Miller and her family and Smith’s wife Ashley.
Wade says the leadership displayed by the franchise that transcends beyond the hardwood and impacts the Utah community is one of the elements that drew him to the ownership opportunity. For every Jazz win this season, Smith has pledged to provide an underserved student with a four-year college scholarship. The franchise has also teamed up with Apple for the creation of homes for LGBT youth and their families. Wade—who plans on being hands-on in the evolution of the franchise—says this business move is about the importance of representation. “Unfortunately, people in my community don’t get this opportunity, and I do not take it lightly to have this opportunity,” he said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “To make real change, this is where you have to be at the top and Ryan knows that. I’m thankful for him, and I know too that I bring a lot to this partnership outside of just my basketball knowledge and skills. This goes way beyond the dream I had to just play basketball in the NBA.”
Other retired NBA players who are part-owners of NBA teams include Michael Jordan, Grant Hill and Shaquille O’Neal. News about Wade’s investment comes weeks after his former teammate NBA star LeBron James became part-owner of the Boston Red Sox.