LeBron James Launches New Media Company Alongside Naomi Osaka - Men's Health Magazine Australia

LeBron James Launches New Media Company Alongside Naomi Osaka

The pair of sporting stars have joined forces to launch a new media company that seeks to produce culturally specific but universal stories.

If there’s one thing we’ve come to learn about the world of sport, it’s that many a great athlete has an inspiring story to tell. From overcoming great obstacles be it circumstantial or geographic, to overcoming personal setbacks by way of competition, injury or simply having the odds stacked against them, athletes continue to defy expectation. Through hard work and determination, our favourite sporting stars have come to be household names, with their personal stories reading like the makings of a Netflix drama. 

It’s hardly surprising then that Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka and four-times NBA champion LeBron James would want to highlight such stories. The pair are now joining forces to launch a new media company aimed at telling stories that cross cultural barriers. Named ‘Hana Kuma’ which translates to “flower bear,” the media company will seek to produce stories that are “culturally specific but universal to all audiences” and, according to reports from the Hollywood Reporter, it already has a number of projects in the works. 

Speaking about the exciting new venture, Osaka said in a press release: “There has been an explosion of creators of colour finally being equipped with resources and a huge platform. In the streaming age, content has a more global perspective. You can see this in the popularity of television from Asia, Europe, and Latin America that the unique can also be universal.”

Osaka added, “My story is a testament to that as well. I’m so excited for what we are building at Hana Kuma. We will bring stories to life with this goal in mind: to make unique perspectives feel universal and inspire people along the way.”

For Osaka, the production company is just the latest project for her and long-time agent Stuart Duguid. The duo also have sports agency Evolve, which recently added Nick Kyrgios as the first member of its roster on Monday. The new projects come after Osaka announced she would not be competing at Wimbledon for the second year in a row. The tennis star has not competed on tour since a first-round loss at the French Open last month. 

According to reports from Forbes, Osaka became the world’s highest-paid female athlete in 2020 with close to $37 million in earnings. While her tennis career certainly is a flourishing one, it’s also one that has brought in numerous sponsorship deals for the star that have proven lucrative. Through these partnerships, Osaka has been striving to broaden her brand and Evolve and Hana Kuma are proof of this, while also being testament to her hard work – both on and off the court. 

Speaking about the importance of her work off the court in bringing a spotlight to other athlete stories, Osaka said: “I think role models are really important, just to see somebody do something – and it makes you feel like you can do the same thing, too. I found it really interesting that there wasn’t a female athlete that’s done this before, but there has been so many men. So I think it’s a journey, and I feel like I’m going to learn a lot on the journey.”

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