Basketball: NBA star Victor Oladipo joins NZ Breakers ownership group

Victor Oladipo in action for Indian Pacers
Victor Oladipo in action for Indian Pacers. Photo credit: Getty

NBA All-Star Victor Oladipo has joined the NZ Breakers' high-profile ownership group.

The Indiana Pacers guard, 28, has told Associated Press that he and business manager Jay Henderson have invested in the Auckland-based Australian NBL franchise, joining a group that already includes former NBA performers Matt Walsh and Shawn Marion.

"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," says two-time All-Star Oladipo, who was named 2018 Most Improved Player, when he led the NBA in steals.

"To work with a team from this perspective, I'm sure I'll have newfound respect for the guys who have been in that position."  

While Oladipo admits he's never visited New Zealand, he promises to visit downunder at least once a year to play an active part in his new management role.

He'll be well used to the accept though, after spending the 2016/17 season as a teammate of Kiwi centre Steven Adams at Oklohoma City Thunder.

Oladipo became interested in the Australian league, after watching NBA draft prospect LaMelo Ball play for Illawarra Hawks last season.

"I definitely think this league is growing," he says. "I know it's growing.

"It's really competitive. I actually saw a few games when LaMelo was playing and I think it's becoming a hot commodity."

Under Ukrainian-born entrepreneur Larry Kestelman, the ANBL has attracted considerable ownership interest from NBA players. Aussie guard Dante Exum, along with retired players Zach Randolph, Al Harrington and Josh Childress are part of a group driving South East Melbourne Phoenix.

Former three-point marksman Kevin Martin has invested in Brisbane Bullets, while Aussie centre Andrew Bogut reportedly has an ownership option with Sydney Kings when he retires.  

"We do a lot of start-ups together," says Henderson. "We own a few companies together and now we're going to be owners of the NZ Breakers.

"I can't even say I dreamed about it. I always thought what it would like to own a franchise, but you never fully expect it to happen."

Oladipo came back from a ruptured quad tendon to play for the Pacers last season, initially opting out of the COVID-19 season restart, but eventually joining the team for the playoffs, where they were swept by Miami Heat in the first round.