Could India Decide Sacramento-Seattle?

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.

21 Comments

  1. Rav says:

    Though Ranadive can definitely have some level of impact (as a part of the Warriors’ ownership group, he’s spearheaded a “Bollywood Night” arena promotion, which was the first time an NBA game was broadcast live in India.

    However, it’s highly doubtful he can have as large an impact as Yao Ming. There’s a HUGE difference between an Indian player (and one who plays an All-Star level, as Yao Ming did) as opposed to an owner (who may not even be a majority owner). Moreover, Yao Ming was like China’s “native son”. Ranadive, on the other hand, hasn’t lived in India since he left the country at age 17 to attend MIT; I suspect he’s probably an American citizen too (which would mean he’s not Indian, as the country does not allow dual citizenship).

    How much did Rich Cho (first Asian-American GM) do for basketball in the Far East, as compared to Jeremy Lin? If Ranadive is a majority owner, I can see the Kings touring Mumbai during the summer. Whether he can raise the profile of basketball any further than that remains to be seem. Colour me skeptical.

  2. ajay says:

    if Yao can …than why can`t Vivek ……….in India…

  3. PAUDEV says:

    YES it will definitely help..India……and NBA.. to grow bigger……..THAT WHAT IT IS…about……

  4. CHUCK NORRIS says:

    The solution is to have the team not in Sacromento or Seattle, but have it in India!

  5. bademus says:

    Whatever Ranadive can do for the Kings he can also do for the Warriors, so it would just be moving that capability. If the NBA wants to quickly grow in popularity in Inda what they need is an Indian player who is a starter on a team. Fans will identify with a player to a much greater extent than they will identify with an owner.

  6. bademus says:

    The NBA already has Ranadive as an owner who can bring globalization to the Warriors, so it woud just be moving it from one team to another. If the NBA wants to develop a fan base in India the fastest way would be to have an Indian player that is a starter on a team. Look what Yao Ming did for NBA popularity in China.

  7. DC says:

    If I’m reading the comments correctly you unanimously agree having an Indian majority owner would do little to tap into an untapped market? I have a counter to this foolish narrow minded thinking… His name is Yao Ming and he played in Houston. Houston instantly became littered with sponsors from China and Houston was globalized and tapped into the Chinese market. If you don’t think THE FIRST INDIAN majority owner of an NBA team will have little to no connection to the Indian market then this exercise was pointless. But using real logic the NBA would be stupid to turn this ownership group down because no matter how much money Ballmer and Hansen throw around they will never have the ability to tap into a market near to China and with a starving appetite for a sport outside of cricket. This is a big argument in favor or Sacramento, and Seattle would be foolish to brush it off as “nothing to see here”. At this point in the game Seattle should tap out and request an expansion team or priority for the next available team. Enjoy what you have, NFL,MLB, Soccer, UW and wait for a city and team with fans who aren’t heavily connected and well supported then throw that 525 price tag around. But currently all Hansen did was wake up a sleeping giant with deep pocketed well connected investors, a vetted and approved arena deal by the NBA and a mayor that is a former NBA player with close ties to the commissioner and many NBA owners.

  8. LALA says:

    Every Indian boy who knows about basketball is a Heat, Celtic or Lakers fan. Nobody here gives two $hits and a popsicle about the Warriors.

    • Indian says:

      I’m Indian and a Spurs fan, and I’m not gonna watch the Kings regardless of ownership until they up their game!!! Good luck to both cities!

  9. Jason Page says:

    Sadly, in the end it will not be about anything but the greatest benefit to the NBA and the owners!

  10. Karl says:

    Don’t be a troll Brad. I worked the We Day event today and heard the call you are referring to…he clearly said “Sacto Mayor.”

  11. BigD says:

    With everything Sacramento is offering,, the NBA would be foolish to not block the sell… I just don’t see it happening….From what I understand, Johnson MAY not even be done with the big news…… That man’s a workhorse who’s going to make sure the team doesn’t go anywhere…. I know that Stern is probably sitting back and is blown away with what Sacramento has put together in the least couple of months……The India part is just a small piece of the puzzle. It’s like a snowball rolling down the hill gaining momentum every day…… Great job KJ!

  12. Hawkfan1974 says:

    I call BS on that one. Just because you say he said that, doesn’t make it real. I could say that I saw you at Walmart beating a Mexican and screaming about keeping “the wetbacks” out of our country….but that wouldn’t make it true would it? Stop lying.

  13. Brad Mayor says:

    At the Key Arena at a children’s event with Magic Johnson et al Steve Ballmer was attending and speaking on his phone calling someone and saying he wasn’t going to lose to the N# Mayor and he would beat Stern’s auction and he wouldn’t be treated that way by Stern – he said the group now owned over 70% and the team was coming to Seattle. It was one of the most bigoted things I’ve ever seen at an event promoting change and making a difference….unbelievable.

    • brad mayors a liar says:

      Brad your funny another sac town guy trying to make seattle look bad. I was there next to balmer never did he say this….. liar

    • Jason Page says:

      The package from the Seattle group is complete as they come! The purchase agreement has raised the value of other teams,those owners will vote on the financial benefit and the market strength of the best package. In addition, corporate strength in the two communities because that is also more dollars for NBA and owners. Also the fact that a purchase agreement has been completed with a bonus of an additional 7% just acquired by new ownership. In short, the deciding factor is a complete package and the benefit to other owners!

  14. Rafael says:

    Kings in Sacramento and India. Lets do it!

  15. CougFanDan says:

    Oh please. Just because there is an Indian guy as a owner of a professional sports team does not automatically grant that team elite status in India. Kevin Johnson is playing every angle he can to try and convince David Stern and the NBA that Sacramento is a better market. Frankly, I don’t blame him.