Kevin Durant Discusses Cannabis and the NBA
Speaking to CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin at the inaugural Game Plan event, Boardroom co-founder Kevin Durant detailed how he managed to convince Adam Silver to change his mindset bout the protocol. “Well, he smelled it when I walked in,” Durant said. “So I didn’t really have to say much, you know what I’m saying? He kind of understood where this was going…It’s the NBA, man… Everybody does it, to be honest. It’s like wine at this point.” The league removed cannabis from its anti-drug testing program earlier this year as part of its new CBA, although the change first started during the 2019-20 season when the league announced they would not be testing players randomly for the substance.
Ashlyn Harris Speaks out on Equal Pay in Sports
Former NWSL and USWNT star Ashlyn Harris has long been an advocate for equal pay and continues to be since her retirement from professional soccer in Nov. 2022. With the FIFA Women’s World Cup currently in action, Harris points to the global spotlight on women’s sports. Recognizing that momentum only occurs every four years, the Global Creative Advisor for NJ/NY Gotham FC emphasized why more than ever women’s sports need more allies. “Imagine if we had money like the men. Imagine if we had charter flights like the men,” the two-time World Cup champion said. “Imagine if we had access to the same things. … We’re just chipping away at [those gaps] and it’s a process and we understand that, but it’s nice now that we know people are paying attention, brands are paying attention. And this is just the start. I truly believe it. Women’s sports right now is the moment and there’s no, we’re not riding any type of wave. We’re just delivering and people finally now see the upside in it.”
Nick Kyrgios Points to the Promise of a Tennis Players Association
Nick Kyrgios brought up an interesting point many of us have yet to recognize: Most professional sports have a union — except for tennis. Considering the work the NFLPA, NBPA, WNBPA, and other governing boards do on behalf of its athletes, it’s a shame that isn’t the case in tennis. Alongside other famous faces in the sport, the 2022 Wimbledon finalist is currently working on changing that for not only his sake but to ensure prosperity for future pros. “The PTPA (Professional Tennis Players Association) that I’ve joined, that’s the player’s association. We’re the only sport in the world that doesn’t have a player’s association. So we have no say in pretty much anything that goes on in the tennis world,” he said to Boardroom co-founder Rich Kleiman. “Novak (Djokovic) started it and I recently joined. I’ve been working relatively hard to get other players to join. Basically, tennis players have been pretty underpaid for forever, for the amount of work we’re putting in. Carlos Alcaraz gets the 274th-best NFL salary and he’s the best player walking on the planet.”
Clara Wu Tsai on Sport Betting's Future
Sports betting has changed the way we consume sports in the last several years. We still excitedly sit down to watch our favorite teams. But these days, there’s an extra incentive for those who place wagers on other matches: The possibility of a large payout. Clara Wu Tsai, co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets, the New York Liberty, the San Diego Seals, and Barclays Center discussed gambling’s burgeoning popularity. “I think it’s really important because it engages fans. We know that fans who are betting engage more often and longer with our content. So anything that engages fans, and I’m talking about the NBA for sure. The WNBA too,” she told the crowd. “I saw a statistic that said the fastest-growing segment of sports betting enthusiasts are women. So, I’m very interested, but this it’s definitely a state-by-state situation.”
Lexie Brown Highlights Athletes Unlimited As an Overseas Alternative for Women's Hoopers
The WNBA’s TV ratings and merch revenues are both steadily climbing, but salaries continue to decrease compared to other leagues around the world. Consequently, many players join overseas leagues because they can make up to 10 times more than they can here at home. Enter Athletes Unlimited, a player-centric model to create leagues across sports, effectively allowing women to remain stateside during the offseason. For Lexie Brown, Athletes Unlimited Founding Member, the organization has turned the ownership model on its head. “I’d like to make it known that we don’t have to go overseas,” the LA Sparks star said Tuesday. “A lot of us actually enjoy playing over there, exploring the world, and playing basketball in a new country. But the W only runs from May until October, so what are you going to do in between? I think Athletes Unlimited is a great place for them to be able to amplify their voices, build their brands, do it on their terms, and still be able to work on their game.”
Stanley Kroenke Addresses the Complexity of NFL Salaries
If the current NFL off-season has taught us one thing, it’s that quarterbacks are (rightly) getting paid. Running backs, on the other hand, are being slighted. Saquon Barkley, for example, held out for months in hopes of inking a long-term and lucrative raise with the New York Giants. Instead, he settled on a one-year extension that could reach up to $11 million after incentives. Someone who could provide insight into that discrepancy is Stanley Kroenke, owner of the Los Angeles Rams. In short, he concluded it’s “a very complex question” as to how things progressed to this point, citing factors like injuries and running back usage in current NFL offenses. “Guys that are running these offensives … think they can get somebody out of the draft that maybe can do the job as well,” he argued.
ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro Speaks on the Future of the Network's Potential Strategic Partnerships
There has been plenty of noise surrounding Disney CEO Bob Iger’s quest into finding a new strategic partner for ESPN. Naturally, that issue was addressed with the network’s chairman James Pitaro this week. In his remarks, Pitaro confirmed he and Iger have initiated discussions with potential collaborators, but wouldn’t say further on the details of those conversations. “I will emphasize the fact we believe there are parties out there that can help us on the content side,” Pitaro said. The exec added that partners could be a part of various industries, from tech, marketing, content and distribution, and more.
MLP's Steve Kuhn Addresses the Growing "Cool Factor" of Pickleball
The fastest-growing sport in America, pickleball, has the approval of Kevin Durant, Tom Brady, LeBron James, Naomi Osaka, and other high-profile figures known for being champions. You’ll find no one more excited about the sport’s potential than Major League Pickleball founder Steve Kuhn. The former hedge fund manager spoke to Boardroom’s Vinciane Ngomsi about the upsurge in interest and highlighted some of their biggest challenges as demand grows. “I think there was a time when pickleball was considered a sport that was not really a sport. There was almost like a hushed, embarrassed tone when talking about it,” said Kuhn. The Austin resident shared that he’s also passionate about getting more kids in diverse communities to participate. In fact, he’ll be traveling to the Capitol in the next few months to talk with members of the House, Senate, and White House about getting more government funding for pickleball.
Tamika Tremaglio Emphasizes the Importance of Building a Brand
When Boardroom caught up with NBPA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio in January, she stressed how important it was for the organization to support the off-court pursuits of players. Six months later, that sentiment still rings true. After all, Tremaglio says we have to look at the whole person. “So what’s your and, and let’s focus on the ampersand as opposed to just the basketball so we have players that are fathers that are entrepreneurs that are doing amazing things in this world giving back to their communities,” she told the audience. “For me, it’s important that everybody knows the full story. It also makes it a little more challenging to not be able to relate to them if you understand what their and is.” Considering we’ve seen ventures range from spirit brands to music deals, the NBPA is staying true to its word in that regard.
Paolo Banchero Breaks Down the NIL Experience
Prior to being named 2023’s NBA Rookie of the Year, Paolo Banchero was a part of the first roster of college athletes receiving payment for their name, image, and likeness. The Duke athlete opened up about the experience onTuesday afternoon. “I remember my mom, she used to own a shirt that read: ‘Pay college athletes’ when I was young. So coming up, in my junior year, my dad always stays tapped into news and sports. So, he told me that they were thinking of changing the rule that you could get paid for your name, image, and likeness. He kind of put it in my head in high school that by the time I got to school, I was going to be able to make money. And when the time came, he was on it. I talked to different agencies and I got to be a representative for NIL.”