Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman’s Thirty Five Ventures has announced the New York Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu will become an ambassador for the company’s Boardroom sports business media network.
In her new role, Ionescu will work with Boardroom on content and events, offering a look inside her own business portfolio and advising on brand partnerships. The former Oregon Duck, a two-time Wooden Award winner and the NCAA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles, will also become a strategic partner to Thirty Five Ventures, with a goal to expand the company’s venture capital network while also growing her own portfolio.
The top pick in last year’s WNBA Draft, Ionescu already has deals with Nike and BodyArmor sports drink, much in the mold of her mentor, Kobe Bryant. Part of Ionescu’s deal with BodyArmor gives her an undisclosed stake in the company. For Nike, she is showcasing the company’s first shoe in its “Greater Than” franchise, the new Air Zoom G.T. Cut.
Though not a signature shoe—the model doesn’t have her name on them—there are reportedly plans to introduce one some time in the future. Only 10 players in WNBA history have had a signature shoe model. The only current WNBA player with one is the Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart, who signed with Puma in May. Stewart’s shoe has yet to release. Out of the 10 players with signature shoes, six have come from Nike.
Ionescu is eager to make the most of her opportunity, whether on the court, with Thirty Five Ventures, or in apparel. “It’ll be really cool if I get that opportunity [for a signature shoe]… or for any other player to have that platform, and have little girls showing up to basketball practice wearing a woman’s shoe for once, and not wearing a men’s shoe,” she said in a recent interview with The Undefeated.
Whether she gets a signature shoe or not, Ionescu is excited to work with and learn from Thirty Five Ventures and Boardroom.
“KD and Rich have built something incredible with Thirty Five Ventures and Boardroom and I’m excited to be a part of it first-hand as I expand my business off the court,” Ionescu said in a press release. “With KD and I both playing in New York it provides the unique opportunity for us to collaborate.”
Thirty Five Ventures co-founder and Boardroom CEO Rich Kleiman sees the potential for growth. “We have tremendous respect for the way she carries herself on the court, in life and in business, and her entrepreneurial spirit and growing business acumen will be an incredible addition to what we’re building with Boardroom,” Kleiman said in a statement.