Vivek Ranadive: ‘India will produce an NBA star’

A couple of months ago, Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive's grand dream came true when it was announced that Mumbai would host two NBA pre-season games, between Sacramento and Indiana Pacers.

Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive believes there are huge economic opportunities that come with NBA basketball.   -  AP (File Photo)

Vivek Ranadive is living the American dream. Born in Mumbai, Ranadive moved to the United States of America at the age of 16. After earning his academic stripes at MIT and Harvard University, he went on to become a successful entrepreneur.

In 2013, Ranadive became the first person of Indian descent to own an NBA franchise when he purchased the Sacramento Kings.

READ: : 7 stats from Team LeBron’s win over Team Giannis

A couple of months ago, Ranadive's grand dream came true when it was announced that the city of his birth would host two NBA pre-season games, between Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers. At a media interaction here, the 61-year-old spoke about how the pre-season games will impact basketball in India, and more...

Excerpts:

Bringing the NBA to India...

The NBA has been a big success in the Chinese market. India is the next frontier. It’s a great country with over a billion people. I want to show the world how amazing India is. Bringing the pre-season games to India is a dream come true for me. I had the opportunity to discuss it with (then) U.S. President Barack Obama when we visited India in 2015. I had also discussed the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was very encouraging of our plans.

“India will produce an NBA star - it’s going to happen no matter what. But we’re not waiting for that to happen. We’re just moving forward. Right now, we’re in the phase where we are trying to popularise the game in India.”

READ: NBA looks to replicate China's success in India

The importance of India producing an NBA star...

Having an Indian-descent NBA franchise owner helps in that direction, as does making the right investments with the NBA India Academy and other grassroots programmes. India will produce an NBA star - it’s going to happen no matter what. But we’re not waiting for that to happen. We’re just moving forward. Right now, we’re in the phase where we are trying to popularise the game in India.

NBA's economic impact...

There are huge economic opportunities that come with NBA basketball. We’ve created thousands of jobs around the Golden 1 Centre, which hosts the Kings’ games. Sacramento is also now the fastest growing city in the State of California. So this goes way beyond just being a basketball game. I’m sure that India will look at it in a similar way.

 

First tryst with basketball

Growing up in Mumbai, I was a huge cricket fan. Sunil Gavaskar was my idol. Many years later, when I was living in the USA, I was called to coach my then 12-year-old daughter's basketball team, despite me having never touched a basketball before that. That experience led to me falling in love with the sport.