Six Thoughts on Kevin Durant Buying a Philadelphia Union Minority Stake
Last December, Kevin Durant met with Union ownership in Chester to discuss buying a stake in the MLS team.
That’s a done deal now, according to Mark Burns at Sports Business Daily:
Nets F Kevin Durant has purchased a minority stake in the Union, between 1% and 5%, according to a source. It’s unclear if Durant’s investment in the MLS team is a personal one or through Thirty Five Ventures, a business he co-founded with partner Rich Kleiman. It’s also unclear if the Union’s USL team is involved. Both the team and Thirty Five Ventures declined comment. In December, the Union confirmed a meeting with Thirty Five Ventures after pictures surfaced online of Durant with team officials. Durant in the past has reportedly tried to buy a minority stake twice in DC United.
I have six thoughts on this:
- Without dollar figures or any real data, it’s really impossible to know if this would increase the Union’s on-field spending or approach to roster building. Jay Sugarman has been notoriously frugal over the years, though in recent seasons the team has finally started to spend a bit on transfer fees as the academy investment pays off via the production of young local players like Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie.
- It’s a good sign to see Sugarman open up and bring new people into ownership. In Durant’s case, he’s an internationally known superstar athlete, and having him connected to your small soccer team in Chester just helps with image and publicity, even if the investment is small. LAFC, for comparison, counts Mia Hamm, Nomar Garciaparra, Will Ferrell, and Magic Johnson among its myriad owners.
- A lot of foreign soccer players are HUGE NBA fans. The header image I used for this story goes all the way back to 2014, when Germany star Mesut Ozil was hanging out with the USA basketball squad. Sometimes these little connections can be significant, and all it really takes is somebody like NBA super fan Antoine Griezmann befriending Kevin Durant, who says, “by the way, I’m part owner of an MLS team, maybe you should come play in Philadelphia.” Sounds like a stretch, but not really. The Union rode a personal connection to the signing of Tranquillo Barnetta back in 2015, so don’t sleep on the significance of these relationships.
- Conversely, a lot of NBA players are big soccer fans. James Harden bought a stake in the Houston Dynamo. Joel Embiid, Josh Richardson, Furkan Korkmaz, and Raul Neto enjoy and watch the sport. There’s always been a lot of international blood in the NBA, which is part of the reason why the two sports seem to overlap these days.
- Ownership and stakeholder information is really difficult to dig up. I remember arranging an interview with David Seltzer a few years ago and the Union front office found out and immediately squashed it. That was the old regime though, which was touchy and a little bit paranoid. Maybe they’ll give us a bit more about KD’s involvement.
- If Durant has a Philly connection, would he sign for the Sixers? I’d give it 0.000000% chance of happening.
That’s about it. Worst case scenario, or most basic case, Durant puts some money into the team and provides a slight publicity boost. Best case scenario, he gets on the phone with Lionel Messi and says, “it’s time for you to leave Barcelona for the Philadelphia Union.”
One can dream.