After departing from the NBA, Udonis Haslem is remaining busy.
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Haslem was first introduced to jai-alai after hearing stories of his dad recollecting the thrill from fans as they watched various matches. In the 1980s, the sport started to take a sharp decline, the Miami Herald reports.
Now, Haslem is hoping to to reignite the passion for the sport as a team owner.
“I’m excited for this new journey with the World Jai-Alai League,” said Haslem in a news release. “Jai-alai has a deep-rooted history, especially right here in Miami. Back in the day, my dad would tell me stories about the fronton being packed with fans and how intense the jai-alai matches were. I see a big potential for the sport to come up in the scene and I’m excited to get involved. Stepping in as a team owner, I’m ready to help build up this sport, support the players, and deliver an unforgettable experience for fans around the world.”
Haslem’s foray to the WJAL follows its “most successful season yet” as they set a new record for fans reached through streaming platforms.
The league’s website states they are “modernizing gameplay, capitalizing on the exploding international sports wagering market, and delivering the sport through social media to a new generation of fans.”
“We are honored to welcome Udonis to the World Jai-Alai League as a team owner,” said Scott Savin, Chief Operating Officer of WJAL, according to a press release. “There are plenty of ways to enjoy retirement in Miami and we’re thrilled that Udonis decided to get involved with the world’s fastest ball sport. His exceptional leadership qualities and deep connection to the Miami sports community will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the league and the sport of jai-alai as a whole. We look forward to working together with Udonis to create an unparalleled experience for our fans and players.”
Additionally, WJAL makes a donation to a charity on behalf of the winning team each season. If Haslem’s Rebote Renegades reigns victorious, proceeds will go toward the Udonis Haslem Foundation.