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  • Writer's pictureJamal Saafir

Drake, Michael B. Jordan, & Steve Stoute Have Two Things In Common; Getting Money and Pickleball

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

Michael B. Jordan, Steve Stoute and Drake

According to a report from Boardroom, Michael B. Jordan, Drake, and Steve Stoute have now ventured into the sport of pickleball. If you’ve never heard of it or never knew what pickleball was, you’re not alone.

Pickleball: Pickleball is a racket or paddle sport where two or four players hit a perforated, hollow plastic ball with paddles over a 34-inch-high net until one side is unable to return the ball or commits an infraction. Pickleball is played indoors and outdoors.

Pickleball origins: Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island. Three dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum are credited for creating the game.

After playing golf one Saturday during the summer, Joel Pritchard, congressman from Washington State and Bill Bell, successful businessman, returned to Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island, WA (near Seattle) to find their families sitting around with nothing to do.

The property had an old badminton court so Pritchard and Bell looked for some badminton equipment and could not find a full set of rackets. They improvised and started playing with ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. At first they placed the net at badminton height of 60 inches and volleyed the ball over the net.As the weekend progressed, the players found that the ball bounced well on the asphalt surface and soon the net was lowered to 36 inches. The following weekend, Barney McCallum was introduced to the game at Pritchard’s home. Soon, the three men created rules, relying heavily on badminton. They kept in mind the original purpose, which was to provide a game that the whole family could play together.

Now back to the story…

Per Boardroom, Major League Pickleball’s Brooklyn Aces announced a new group of investors July 20th, including global superstar, OVO Sound owner and five-time Grammy-winning rapper Drake, actor and entrepreneur Michael B. Jordan, and UnitedMasters and Translation founder/CEO Steve Stoute.

The Aces’ new investor group also includes CityPickle co-founders Mary Cannon and Erica Desai; LionTree Chairman and CEO Aryeh Bourkoff and Managing Director Alex Michael; Baby2Baby Co-CEO Kelly Sawyer Patricof; producer and Hunting Lane founder Jamie Patricof; Status Labs CEO Darius Fisher and CMO Jesse Boskoff, CEO Noah Traisman, and Dynamic DNA Labs founder and CEO Austin O’Reilly.

35V co-founder/CEO and Aces majority owner Rich Kleiman

“We’re thrilled to have this incredible group of investors join the Brooklyn Aces as we continue to grow the team and raise the profile of Major League Pickleball as a whole,” Boardroom and 35V co-founder/CEO and Aces majority owner Rich Kleiman said. “It’s the idea of bringing people in that we could share in this with and utilize resources as the Aces evolve. Our investor group includes some of the savviest entrepreneurs in the business, and having this network on our cap table positions us to be successful.”

This recent batch of co-owners, Kleinman reportedly said, is comprised of friends and individuals 35V thought highly of and desired to collaborate with on a more profound level. In the instance of Drake, he and Kevin Durant are close acquaintances and Kleiman is close with Drake’s manager, Adel “Future the Prince” Nur. The timing worked out for the Aces, and Kleiman is optimistic the business relationship can flourish further from here.

“Just having their ear and their support is really incredible,” Kleiman said.

According to Boardroom, Kleinman also stated he loves doing business with Jordan’s team, nurturing a relationship with an astute entrepreneur clearly intrigued by the sports space; this news comes shortly after the actor’s recent investments in the Alpine Formula 1 team and English soccer’s AFC Bournemouth. In addition, both Jordan and 35V are stakeholders in New York City-based esports organization NYXL.

As for the rest of the ownership group’s new members, each aligned with 35V at the perfect time to take advantage of the burgeoning growth of pickleball as a sport and MLP as a league, bringing business knowledge, excitement, and curiosity to the table.

With these recent equity partners situated as distinguished influential leaders covering the worlds of sports, business, and entertainment, the Brooklyn Aces will further their allegiance to engaging with the pickleball community, increasing the team’s brand presence, and elevating Aces athletes going into the second half of the MLP season. As part of the new ownership’s commitment to fostering community in New York City and beyond, the Aces will host their first youth-focused community event – Aces Day of Play – on Thursday, Aug. 3 at the CityPickle courts in Manhattan’s Union Square.

In partnership with PowerPlay NYC – a nonprofit organization with the mission of advancing the lives of girls through sport – the organizations will bring the growing sport to an underserved community while promoting active, healthy lifestyles.

Last week at CityPickle’s courts at Central Park’s Wollman Rink, the Aces drafted world No. 2 ranked women’s player Catherine Parenteau, MLP Daytona runner-up Andrea Koop, 17-year-old phenom Hayden Patriquin, and two-time MLP champion Tyler Loong for the team’s Premier Division tournaments beginning Sept. 21-24 in Peachtree Corners, Georgia. Samin Odhwani will assume the role of General Manager for a second season.

To help ring in the Aces’ jump into the Premier Division, the team unveiled a new logo with the Brooklyn Bridge and New York City skyline front and center inside an MLP ball, incorporating a lighter shade of blue and gray to go with an iconic black and white color scheme.

“A new logo is just one way we continue to evolve,” Kleiman said. “As you build a brand and a community, you always look for things you can differentiate with. I don’t think there’s anything better than having the opportunity to start something that connects with people and seeing how it can grow.”

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