EMILY CARON July 14, 2023 11:10am

NBA legend and Chicago native Dwyane Wade has joined the ownership group of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, buying in at the same $85 million valuation at which the franchise welcomed a group of new minority investors last month.

Wade is just the second former NBA player to invest in a WNBA team, after Magic Johnson bought into the Los Angeles Sparks as part of the ownership group that took control of the franchise in 2014.

The Sky declined to disclose specifics around the size of Wade’s investment or what his ownership stake will be. The sale is still subject to formal approval by the WNBA’s Board of Governors.

Wade, a three-time NBA champion and 13-time All-Star, is the second high-profile athlete to invest in the WNBA this year, joining recently retired NFL great Tom Brady, who acquired a minority stake in the Las Vegas Aces at an undisclosed valuation in March. Wade is also an investor in the NBA’s Utah Jazz, having joined the ownership group in 2021.


“Not only has Dwyane been an extraordinary talent on the court during his career, but even more so in his business and philanthropic endeavors after,” Nadia Rawlinson, the Sky’s operating chairman, said in a phone interview. “We care a lot about the culture that we’ve built, and we want people around us that have the same outlook and values as we do, and he is definitely one of those people.”

This is Wade’s first investment in women’s sports, though his wife, actor Gabrielle Union, and their daughter, Kaavia James Union Wade, are invested in NWSL club Angel City FC.

Wade joins the franchise as a minority owner a month after the Sky welcomed a group of six women investors at an $85 million valuation, as first reported by Sportico—the second-highest in the league behind Seattle. The new owners announced in June acquired a 10% stake in the team.

Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts, Foot Locker CEO Mary Dillon, Smartly.io CEO Laura Desmond and Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art chair Cari Sacks were among the minority investors announced last month. Tina Tchen, former president and CEO of Time’s Up and current chief strategy and impact officer at the Obama Foundation, and Curio Brands CEO Anne Sempowski Ward were also part of the group.

Rawlinson, a Silicon Valley veteran, joined the Sky in January as co-owner. John Rogers, Harvey Alter, Margaret Stender and Chicago’s other existing minority partners remain invested, and Michael Alter continues to serve as the club’s principal owner. All told, Chicago boasts one of the most diverse ownership groups in the league.

Founded prior to the 2006 season, the Sky won their first championship in 2021. The team currently plays at Wintrust Arena, located on Chicago’s South Side, and is actively scouting locations for a new practice facility, looking to keep up with the likes of the Storm and the Las Vegas Aces, which opened their own state-of-the-art facilities this spring.

Infrastructure is one of three areas where the team intends to deploy the new capital. The Sky are also planning to invest more heavily in marketing efforts and to expand the health and wellness resources available to players, a realm where Rawlinson thinks Wade is particularly suited to lend expertise. In addition, the franchise will look to leverage Wade’s profile and reach, as well as his roots in the city of Chicago, and integrate the Sky into his portfolio of enterprises, including his annual summer camps.

“Dwyane is very much someone who can help us achieve those goals and even take them to another level,” Rawlinson said. “There are a lot of potential synergies between what he’s already doing and what we want to do.”

Rawlinson said the franchise is happy with the makeup of its current cap table and is not actively seeking additional investors, but the team is open to conversations if “there’s something and someone that makes sense, [like Wade], that is highly aligned with our goals and values.”