Kevin Durant Becomes Latest A-List Athlete to Purchase Major League Pickleball Team

Tom Brady and LeBron James have also invested in Major League Pickleball expansion teams set to compete in 2023

Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets smiles during an open practice on October 8, 2022 at HSS Training Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant is the latest athlete to invest in the hottest sport in the country: pickleball.

Durant, 34, and entrepreneur Rich Kleiman's 35V has purchased a Major Lague Pickleball expansion team, joining athletes like LeBron James and Tom Brady, who have also taken claim in the league.

Durant's team is set to begin competing in the 2023 MLP season.

"Major League Pickleball is a league we are incredibly excited about," Kleiman, a self-described "avid pickleball player, and fan," said in a press release.

Durant and Kleiman have already been practicing their own moves on the pickleball court, the entrepreneur shared in a video on Twitter.

Kleiman said he and Durant's 35V is "committed to investing in the future of sports and emerging opportunities." The creative partners "can't wait to build this team from the ground up."

Major League Pickleball founder and CEO Steve Kuhn said he's thrilled the NBA star is staking a claim in the league. "Kevin Durant, Rich Kleiman and 35V are going to be game-changing partners for Major League Pickleball. They not only bring passion for the game, but also unrivaled expertise to help us grow."

One of the reasons pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America (with a 40% increase in players since 2019, according to the New York Times) is because it caters to people of all ages and athletic abilities.

Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets reacts during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Barclays Center on October 19, 2022 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Sarah Stier/Getty

When Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Brady, 45, purchased his own pickleball team this month, he shared the news in an Instagram video.

"Look, I've been trying to find a way to extend my professional sports career, in my 40s, even into my 50s, 60s, 70s! As long as I can, right? And I think I got the answer," he said. "Seems like everyone else has the answer too — pickleball!"

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers star said he's "super excited" to help the sport grow, but he's also going to bring his high level of competition to the league.

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"We're going to keep bringing awareness to this thing all around the country, all around the world. And look, you how I get with competition, right. I love that's it's become such a popular neighborhood sport. It's a great way to get out of the house, but I'm coming to win. I'm coming to the dominate the sport. Pickleball — let's f---ing go," Brady concluded.

Pickleball has become one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S., with 4.8 million players nationwide last year. The indoor or outdoor paddle sport is similar to tennis, but with hollow wiffle-like balls.

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