SACRAMENTO, Calif. – This has all been a fluke, really, a chance intersection that that may not have happened if the group attempting to keep the Kings in Sacramento did not have its initial counter-offer blown out of the water by commissioner David Stern, and if Vivek Ranadive wasn’t No. 3 in Warriors’ ownership and looking for a larger role at the very time Mark Mastrov and Ron Burkle were open to new investors. It might even have something to do with location. If Ranadive wasn’t a West Coast guy, let alone a Bay Area guy, who knows if the interest is the same in basketball in the California capital.
But now that the stars have aligned?
It’s important. It’s potentially huge.
It could be everything.
The unexpected addition of Ranadive to the Sacramento group last week is nothing less than a potential game-changer that could alter the look of the NBA for decades. Bidders from Seattle and Sacramento will give presentations in New York next Wednesday, the Board of Governors will meet April 18-19 to decide the future of the Kings in two markets, and Sacramento just put a native of India — who pushed Bollywood nights in Golden State and got the Warriors on TV in India — near the top of the masthead. The league is trying to build a strong relationship in India.
No one knows yet how much actual impact that will have with the owners who will vote. But there are two important certainties the day after the Sacramento city council approved plans for a new downtown arena:
* Ranadive would be a boost to the Sacramento bid no matter where he was born. He is already an owner, by all accounts well-liked, and that familiarity never hurts.
* Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson certainly cares where Ranadive was born. More importantly, he thinks the Board of Governors cares and plans to make Ranadive’s background a prominent part of the presentation next week.
“Look, the NBA wants to be the most popular sport in the world,” Johnson told NBA.com. “If you’re going to do that, there’s two markets that are critical: China and India. You think we don’t know that? You don’t think that we don’t know that we have an opportunity to help the NBA infiltrate into one of the most significant markets in the world? Absolutely. Vivek is going to be critical. He wants to make this a global team. We talked about Ron Burkle revitalizing our community, the revitalization of a community. Vivek is the globalization of a franchise. We know that. And if we put a good product on the court, you’re going to have the transformation of a team. That is our commitment. That market is critically important.”
This is quite a series of developments if this turns votes in Sacramento’s favor. If the BOG turns down the Seattle bid and the Kings stay, Ranadive would become the team’s general partner, it was learned, giving him the loudest voice in basketball and business matters.