NBA star Kevin Durant joins Canadian pot company

Sep 27, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA;  Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) poses for a portrait during media day at HSS Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports
Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant poses for a portrait during media day at HSS Training Center. Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

NBA star Kevin Durant and sports business executive Rich Kleiman are teaming up with Canopy Rivers (RIV.TO)(CNPOF) to grow their portfolio of cannabis investments.

Thirty Five Ventures, the investment firm co-founded by Kleiman and the 12-year NBA veteran, announced on Tuesday that it will join the strategic advisor board at the publicly-traded venture capital company affiliated with pot giant Canopy Growth (WEED.TO)(CGC).

Canopy Rivers plans to leverage the duo's experience in brand development, marketing, and the sports and entertainment industries to co-invest on cannabis-related deals.

Thirty Five Ventures has primarily invested in technology firms, including the food-delivery app Postmates, and the zero-fee stock trading platform Robinhood. In the cannabis space, the company has backed Dutchie, an Oregon-based software firm that coordinates customer orders for U.S. dispensaries and maintains their websites.

Kleiman said it was Canopy Rivers’ tech-oriented approach to investing that encouraged him to partner with the Toronto-based venture capital firm.

"We've recognized that Canopy Rivers has taken a data-backed approach to map out forward-looking opportunities in the industry," he said in a news release on Tuesday. “We are looking forward to joining the advisory board, and helping to align with some of the most disruptive founders in the space.”

Canopy Rivers’ advisory board includes Canadian Council of Innovators' and founder of OMERS Ventures John Ruffolo, Imperial Brands PLC's former co-head of M&A Meg Lovell, former Campbell Canada president Philip Donne, and Breakthru Beverage Canada's regional president Julian Burzynski.

"Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman have built an incredible brand worldwide, investing in and growing some of the cannabis and tech industry's hottest companies," Canopy Rivers president and CEO Narbé Alexandrian said in the release.

“We're excited to combine our venture capital knowledge and cannabis domain expertise, and we believe that this partnership will drive success for our portfolio as we continue to grow it in the years ahead.”

Durant and Kleiman are the latest in a long line of sports figures to put money to work in the cannabis sector.

NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana recently participated in a US$75 million investment in a California-based cannabis company called Caliva through his venture capital company. Fellow football star Rob Gronkowski is partnering with Abacus Health (ABAHF) on CBD-infused creams to ease muscle pain. Golf great Greg Norman has teamed up with Green Growth Brands (GGB.CN)(GGBXF) to launch a line of CBD products for active lifestyles.

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