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Metta World Peace (left) and Chris Copeland (right). Photo: XvsX Sports

Metta World Peace, the retired NBA player formerly known as Ron Artest, is launching XvsX Sports, a Los Angeles-based startup that aims to be like Airbnb, but for finding a good place for pick-up basketball.

Why it matters: 23 million people in the U.S. play basketball, making it by far the largest recreational team sport.

Details: XvsX's invite-only beta in L.A., features a ClassPass-like business model of $5 per month for unlimited hoops, with options for elite, hard-core and recreational players.

  • XvsX has lined up around 300 indoor courts in the L.A. area, including junior colleges, parks and other facilities.
  • The company hopes to eventually expand throughout the country.
  • Backers include tech entrepreneurs Brad O'Neill, Charles Jolley and FreedomPop founder Stephen Stokols as well as current and former NBA players Al Harrington, Nick Young, Chris Copeland, Jermaine O’Neal, and Stephen Jackson.

The big picture: World Peace had been doing some high-end pick-up games to help those with professional aspirations stay in practice and keep their dreams alive. With the new startup, he hopes to reach even more players.

  • "It’s revolutionizing basketball," he told Axios. "This platform has never been around."

Go deeper

Movie theaters go out of style

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccination rates are going up, people are going out to restaurants again — although the new COVID variant may get in the way — but they still aren't rushing back to the movies.

By the numbers: Some 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer hitting theaters, according to a study from the film research company The Quorum, as reported by the New York Times.

2 hours ago - Health

Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

European countries are doubling down on pressure campaigns to get people vaccinated just as Republicans continue to wage war — often successfully — against vaccine mandates in the U.S.

Why it matters: The starkly different approaches create a sharp contrast between the regions' approaches to vaccination, even as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads around the world.

3 hours ago - World

Two years of COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Two years ago Wednesday, the first case of a mysterious new respiratory disease was discovered in Wuhan, China. Now, the Omicron variant has deepened concerns about just how much longer the coronavirus pandemic will last.

The big picture: More than 5 million people have died since that first case. Most people on earth have lived through some form of lockdown. 54% of the global population has had at least one vaccination, though the shots have been distributed unevenly.