ARIZONA CARDINALS

FaZe Clan’s Kyler Murray, Bronny James share Sports Illustrated cover

Jun 10, 2021, 11:09 AM | Updated: 1:02 pm

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and LeBron James’ son, Bronny James, will be featured on the July 2021 cover of Sports Illustrated magazine — just not for their athletic accomplishments.

The athletes appear alongside three members of FaZe Clan, the eSports behemoth that has built an empire on community and culture in the gaming community.

Rohan Nadkarni’s cover feature in Sports Illustrated details the crossover between sports stars and eSports stars.

Now, depending on which side of the millennial–Gen Z line you sit, FaZe has grown into either a confusing digital behemoth that serves as a stark reminder of how the world has passed you by, or a cultural (and merchandising) force that bonds a disparate groups of gamers, athletes, musicians, influencers and content creators into an amorphous digital squad that has become the internet’s version of the cool kids’ table in your high school cafeteria.

Murray was “drafted” and signed with FaZe Clan this year, an example of the group’s branding power.

Murray felt honored to join gamers he looks up to, and the gamers felt honored to be joined by a young NFL quarterback and the son of the best basketball player in the world. Both Murray and James have built their own followings in the gaming space.

Writes Nadkarni:

The relationship is symbiotic: The FaZe name gives members like James and Murray legitimacy in the gaming world and helps them extend their brands to different audiences. And for FaZe, partnering with some of the most famous athletes in the world presents the opportunity to stretch into whatever corners of the mainstream they haven’t yet captured.

According to Forbes, FaZe Clan is now worth more than $305 million, with about 80% of its revenue coming from its content creation.

Here’s a peek at Sports Illustrated’s reporting for the story and cover shoot.

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