After finally winning an NBA title, NBA Finals MVP and reaching the 20,000 point milestone, Kevin Durant has his sights set on a new long-term goal. According to a report by ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Durant has become putting himself in position to own an NBA team one day. As part of his intensifying interest, Durant and business partner Rich Kleiman have been meeting with tech CEOs and current owners to learn what goes into organizing an eventual bid to buy an NBA franchise. Last week, Durant spoke to ESPN about his vision for increasing the presence of minorities in NBA ownership and in front offices.
“MJ was the first big Nike athlete, the biggest star of his time, but if you don’t have the trajectory, that path, that journey, it’s going to be hard to do what he did,” Durant said. “But you can still affect the NBA and the game of basketball in a different way. You don’t have to be an owner. I think it should be more guys in the positions of power like general managers and scouts and coaches. Anything that involves the day-to-day operations of these franchises. I think more players and more experienced players should be in those positions.”
It’s not surprising that the Warriors forward has his long-term sights set on owning an NBA franchise once his playing career comes to a close. You can’t talk Kevin Durant without discussing The Durant Company and Kleiman.
“We’re paid for what we can do on the basketball court and most players know these paychecks are not going to come on the first and 15th for the rest of our lives,” he said. “If we get a big sum of money, why not try to help it grow? That’s what entrepreneurs and Fortune-500 CEOs do. They get a crop of money and they try to grow it. They get a product and they try to grow it. We’re our own business. Why not try to control that and why not try to leverage that to provide a better life after you’re done playing? That’s what it’s about.”
Durant has earned a $300 million Nike endorsement deal, and even though he gave the Warriors a discount in accepting a 2-year $53 million extension, his next contract should be somewhere in the neighborhood of $170 million. Durant’s extensive tech portfolio, lucrative salary and endorsement deals is an important aspect of his post-NBA ambitions because the cost of purchasing an NBA team is very prohibitive. Over half of the NBA is owned by individuals whose personal fortunes exceed $14 billion.
Currently, Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan is both the only African-American and former only player to own the majority share of an NBA franchise. Jordan owns 80 percent of the Bobcats, but he also brought into the NBA before television rights, salary caps and franchise valuations increased exponentially.
In 2010, the NBA Board of Governors approved the then-Bobcats sale to Jordan for $275 million. The Houston Rockets are only the NBA’s eighth-ranked franchise according to Forbes, yet billionaire CEO Tilman Feritta brought the franchise for a record $2.2 billion.
Durant has a long way to go. The Durant Company could end up emulating Magic Johnson Enterprises. Through MJE business ventures, Johnson was able to transform $25 million in career earnings into half a billion in net worth.
However Durant’s only an incipient tech investor. At this point in time, the most likely scenario for Durant to become an owner is as part of a ownership group. Here’s a suggestion. This generation of NBA stars is more capable than ever and seemingly more intent on outside business pursuits and owning professional sports franchises than ever. A superteam of current players as an ownership group could appeal to Durant.
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