Kevin Durant’s Business Partner Rich Kleiman Confused Why People Don’t Understand KD

Kevin Durant’s business partner and co-founder of Thirty-Five Ventures, Rich Kleiman, knows a lot about KD that you might not know.

Like how the two have been blazing a trail of business ventures before our eyes but just quietly. However, tonight’s SHOWTIME premiere of their documentary, ‘Basketball County: In The Water” is different. It explores the origin story behind the enigmatic NBA superstar in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

“I actually am always confused a bit when people say that because he did a documentary called ‘HBO’s The Offseason” like 5 years ago,” said Kleiman via phone. “We did something 2 or 3 years ago with YouTube called ‘Still KD’ and we’re doing this documentary and he’s so active obviously on Twitter responding to people.”

However earned or not, the vibe is out there that KD keeps his life a little closer to the vest. Focus on basketball and let the rest be what it is. But Kleiman feels the public does know KD but that they want a version they stylize.

“I think sometimes what it is is that people might not always want Kevin to be who he is, you know what I mean? I think he gives people a pretty good look at who he is, he’s just so real and so authentic and down to earth that when people do get to know him they still feel like he’s closed off. When I feel like Kevin, for a superstar NBA player, has given people a lot. I think in this one what you may see is a little different older voice than you’ve seen in the past and somebody who is not one of the old heads from PG County, so to speak.

“But he’s also incredibly accomplished and he’s in his early thirties and he’s giving back to the community so he can talk in a much more reflective way and I think that’s very nice to see. Because that’s a side of him that I think people do know a bit but don’t really realize the extent that the way he mentors, and leads, and gives back may be a little more understated than others but it doesn’t take away from the kind of work he does, especially in his own community.”


SHOWTIME produced Kobe Bryant’s MUSE which for all intents and purposes is his autobiography.  Kobe narrated it, executive produced it and tailored it so the world understood him more. The similarities between Bryant and Durant couldn’t be more apparent on the court and their approach to privacy also reflects similar viewpoints.

“I never got to know Kobe personally so I can only go off of being a fan and from hearing stories from people that did know him Kobe well and the docs that you saw. There’s always the similarity in the commitment to be the best and that sort of assassin type mentality. Outside of that, I wish I was able to get to know him more. I don’t know much more they were similar outside of being competitors. I think in order to get to that level, it’s no different from LeBron or Steph or anyone. Everyone might have a different style in which they do it but the ability to kind of win at all costs and work tirelessly to stay and become the best I think is in most of those guys.”

Still with LeBron James leading the pack of currently active athlete-entrepreneurs, Durant is stepping out there now in the same vein. He’s always been in the space, according to Rich, it’s just been muted.

“I hope if it hasn’t been cemented, it will. I think outside of LeBron who everyone points to as creating an enterprise while you’re playing and doing it to the level he did, I think everyone at this point is aware of Kevin’s hat as a businessman, but I think it will help cement it if it hasn’t cemented for some because I think the audience now during this time period in the world is bigger than it ever has been just in terms of consuming content and I think from that standpoint more people will pay attention and therefore kind of connect the dots.

“But I think KD as a businessman has been told in many publications but it is great that people are paying attention to it because we hear about the lack of ‘I don’t care what people think’ and the ‘moving in silence.’ I think that was part of the last generation. In this time period, being regarded for what you do and getting attention for the success you have I think is very important in inspiring others and then continuing to grow your business. A lot of like ‘what have you done for me lately’ societies. So the more you’re able to show people I think the more opportunity. Then if you take advantage of that opportunity and do things that are special and impactful and continue to give back as well, I think its the perfect storm.”

‘Basketball County: In The Water’ explores how basketball shaped the bedroom community of Washington, D.C. and made collegiate and NBA stars. According to Kleiman, it’s just the beginning.

“I think its just a great story,” Kleiman tells The Shadow League. “I think its an incredible story of just how much its basketball and an ecosystem of coaches, and parents, and players that if they put their attention and focus and time towards uplifting one another and being part of a team to have a haven of sort can lead to incredible things.

“It’s not always about becoming Kevin Durant but about using that opportunity to better your life and you can just see the pride of the County and I think its something that’s well needed right now and hopefully its something that the County holds special to them and they feel like we did justice.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.