- Rich Kleiman, founder of 35 Ventures and Kevin Durant’s business partner, told Insider he and Durant want to one day own an NBA team.
- Kleiman said he and Durant would want to be hands-on owners in the operations of a team.
- Kleiman said he and Durant have put “flags” down and have relationships to one day make ownership happen.
Kevin Durant and his agent/business partner Rich Kleiman already have their eyes on owning an NBA team one day.
“For sure, a hundred percent,” Kleiman told Insider when asked if he and Durant want to get into the NBA ownership ranks.
“Kevin clearly will have many opportunities to be associated with NBA teams and organizations, staying around the game his whole life. I hope I do as well. And I hope that the business we’re building puts us in a position one day to be able to have an opportunity to buy into an NBA team.”
Kleiman and Durant are the founders of 35 Ventures, a sports, media, and entertainment company. After investing in tech early on, they’ve turned their eyes toward sports and media in recent years. They own and operate the media network Boardroom and have produced documentaries like “NYC Point Gods,” about New York-raised basketball players.
They have also gotten involved in sports ownership, with stakes in NJ/NY Gotham FC in the NWSL, MLS team Philadelphia Union, and most recently, a Major League Pickleball team.
Kleiman told Insider that, ideally, he and Durant would be hands-on owners.
“I think that at whatever level we were able to do it, being hands-on with an organization is also what’s really appealing,” Kleiman said. “I’d love to be able to operate as a CEO of an NBA organization, and I’m sure Kevin would love to be able to have a hand in building, from a player and operational standpoint, being able to build a roster. But I think that that’s everyone’s dream right now in some capacity in our world.”
The Union made the MLS Cup recently, giving Kleiman a taste of what he hopes to one day feel in the NBA.
“Even being at the Philadelphia Union semifinal game and seeing the crowd go crazy, I mean, I can’t imagine anything more exciting from my vantage point than being able to be a part of a team and seeing that team become successful and knowing that it was partly yours.”
More and more, former players are getting involved in ownership. Dwyane Wade is a partial owner of the Utah Jazz. Grant Hill is part of the Atlanta Hawks’ ownership group.
LeBron James, though he is of course still playing, has made it known that he wants to be an owner of the widely rumored Las Vegas expansion team (if and when that happens).
Kleiman praised James as a trailblazer and said he and Durant have already put feelers out there.
“I think if LeBron is able to get into Vegas and then you see D-Wade in Utah, I think that only probably opens up the runway even moreso for Kevin having an opportunity to do that,” Kleiman said. “And, you know, we’ve put our flags in the ground, and we have appropriate relationships, and we’re doing our behind-the-scenes due diligence.”
He added: “Seeing LeBron trailblaze in a lot of ways has helped so many athletes after him. So I see all of it as very advantageous.”
Sportico recently estimated that Durant made $80 million in 2021, with $48 million of that coming off the floor. Durant is now starting a four-year, $196 million extension, and 35 Ventures has only grown its profile since then.
Of course, buying into any sports team right now isn’t cheap. Franchises valuations have risen across sports. Some believe the for-sale Phoenix Suns may go for more than $4 billion, which would be an NBA record.
Kleiman, however, isn’t focusing too much on that now.
“We have a long ways to go,” he said.