In December, Kevin Durant told Forbes that he wants to own an NBA team one day. On Thursday, he took the first step toward that goal. While it isn't an NBA team, Durant purchased his first-ever stake in a major professional sports team by buying a stake between one and five percent of the Philadelphia Union, an MLS team, according to Sports Business Journal's John Ourand.
The price for his purchase is not yet known. It is also unknown whether this was a personal investment on Durant's part or one made by Thirty Five Ventures, his company that he founded alongside Rich Kleimann. Durant had previously attempted to purchase a stake in D.C. United — the MLS team in his home area — but the sides were unable to come to terms on an agreement on either occasion, according to The Athletic's Pablo Maurer.
Soccer ownership has become relatively popular among NBA stars. James Harden owns approximately 3.5 percent of the Houston Dynamo. LeBron James went abroad in 2011 by purchasing two percent of Liverpool for an estimated $6.5 million. The value of that stake has grown significantly.
While these stakes do not come with any degree of managerial control, they do grant players like Durant and James a chance to learn a bit more about operating a professional sports team. As both harbor NBA ownership aspirations in retirement, that could prove quite useful. While there is an enormous difference between owning a minor stake in a team and being its controlling owner, smaller investments are a nice place to start.
After all, the only NBA owner that played in the league, Michael Jordan, began his ownership tenure in a similar place, first as a minority owner (and top basketball executive) with the Wizards, and then with the then-Charlotte Bobcats before buying the team outright. James and Durant aren't doing so in the NBA, but their paths are starting in a relatively similar place.