Supported by celebrities like Michael B. Jordan and Serena Williams, the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic went off without a hitch. While the HBCU basketball games, college fair, performances, and more were worth tuning into, there’s a bigger stake in the inaugural event in the long term. Get the full story from Michael LoRé at Forbes below.
Legacy is everything to Michael B. Jordan.
“I just want to be known as someone who helps people, who made it easier, brought people together and afforded other people opportunities that I had,” Jordan says. “While I’m here now and have the momentum, I want to set up things for other people so when I’m gone, this shit can keep going.”
Motivated by his desire to provide opportunities for others, especially students, student-athletes and alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the Emmy-nominated actor/producer partnered with Invesco QQQ, Turner Sports, WME Sports, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, and Scout Sports and Entertainment to host the inaugural Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic on December 18 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
In addition to a men’s college basketball doubleheader broadcast nationally on TNT featuring Delaware State University vs. North Carolina Central University and Howard University vs. North Carolina A&T University, the day also included a college fair, slam dunk contest, career fair, musical performance by Cordae, and startup pitch competition in a celebration of HBCU life, culture and community.
“You can’t just talk about it, you gotta walk it,” Jordan, 34, says. “I wanted to lead by example and be the first one to put my money where my mouth was and go forward with this. Now I need help, I need other people to follow. I need other people to see this is what’s going on over here and say, ‘How can I be involved? How can I help?’
“You see CP3 with what he’s doing and how he’s been supporting HBCUs, Melo, Bron, J.R. Smith going back to college. You start to make alliances with people who are going to make HBCUs not just a talking point and a cool moment, but cool in general, an aspirational place to be.”
Joining Jordan in his support of HBCUs during the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic was 23-time singles Grand Slam champion Serena Williams. Via Serena Ventures and MaC Venture Capital, Williams and Jordan invested $1 million in construction industry management app TracFlo, whose app streamlines contractor documents and workflow operations for construction projects. Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman’s Thirty Five Ventures served as an advisor during the pitch competition, which was sponsored by Audible and Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator.
The investment is crucial to an underrepresented and under-supported demographic in venture capital—Black and Latinx founders raised $2.3 billion in 2020, representing just 2.6% of the total $87.3 billion in funding that went to all founders that year according to Crunchbase.
For Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Swin Cash, who serves on the Board of Advisors for Invesco QQQ’s financial education program How Not to Suck at Money, the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic provides much-needed and much-deserved resources and opportunities that aren’t as easily accessible to HBCU students and student-athletes compared to those at Power 5 Conferences and/or predominately white institutions (PWIs).
“I didn’t think about all the different things I had at my fingertips or that I was able to have access to when I was playing at UConn because it was just there,” says Cash, New Orleans Pelicans vice-president of basketball operations and team operations. “If you look at a lot of HBCUs, they may not have the same level of resources, and an event like the Legacy Classic bringing those opportunities means a lot to those students. I was happy to see the thought process wasn’t, ‘Hey, we’re just going to play a basketball game.’”
Jordan, who previously challenged Hollywood to hire, support and amplify more Black creatives, says the Legacy Classic will continue to grow and evolve with the goal of turning it into more of a tournament while also including women’s basketball, egaming and other educational and career opportunities around coding and computer science.
“You look at all these other invitationals and classics that are out there that get nationally televised games, that get the notoriety, and get the investors, you don’t really have that system so you have to start somewhere,” Jordan says, “so I figured I’d start here in my hometown of Newark.”