David Stern, Adam Silver, Vivek Ranadivé and the NBA in India

David Stern and Adam Silver address media in Houston. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

Could Vivek Ranadivé’s cultural background be just as important as his net worth in Sacramento’s effort to keep the Kings?

With an estimated 1.2 billion people and growing, India is one of the most populous nations in the world.  Only China trumps the South Asian country with a larger population to date.  However according to some projections, India could take that crown from China within the next 20 years.

If his bid is successful, the 55-year-old software tycoon could become the first majority owner of Indian descent in the NBA. Talk radio host Carmichael Dave believes in the significance of that distinction, which he noted in this week’s Cowbell Kingdom Podcast.

“Guys, it’s not just ‘Hey, we’ve got a whale who’s worth a half billion or a billion or 2 billion’,” Dave told Cowbell Kingdom on the road from Phoenix on his “Playing To Win” Tour.  ” That’s not the deal here.  There’s a treasure map that the NBA has given Sacramento to keep this team.  You saw it with stuff like the WNBA in the mayor’s state of the city speech.  Now you’re seeing it with bringing in a majority Indian owner.

“It’s the exact right move,” Dave added.  “It’s more than just the money and it’s part of the master plan that’s really going to roll out over the next three weeks and help keep this team in Sacramento.”

Outside of soccer, basketball is perhaps the world’s most globalized game and the NBA has led the charge in its expansion.  With its popularity soaring overseas, the league’s eyes are focusing on growing nations just like India.  During NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston, David Stern announced in his state of the league address that he would be making a trip to the world’s largest democracy next month.

“Our international prospects remain as strong as ever,” Stern told media back in February.  “We don’t have anything to announce, but we’re going to be doing lots of exhibition traveling.  I have no doubt, this coming preseason, our digital footprint will become larger country by country, with respect to the websites that are going to be entering into partnerships and the like.”

So what do Stern and his heir-apparent Adam Silver think about the Indian market?  Here are a few quotes from the commissioner and commissioner-in-waiting on the subject.

From the  season-tip-off conference call in late October, Stern on monitoring the growth of the international game in his final year as commissioner:

It’s an area of extreme importance to us.  We’re going to be opening or have opened an office in Brazil, which has, as you may recall, the World Cup in 2014, the Olympics in 2016.  And we’ll be focusing on that greatly.  We just opened an office recently in Mumbai to approach the Indian market.  And we, having just gotten back from China, I’m not even sure that we can respond adequately, but we’ll try, to all of the requests for business partnerships and growth areas that were apparent there.

So those are areas of extreme importance, and Adam and I will be deeply involved in developing all of them as fast as we possibly can.

From All-Star Weekend, Silver on opening an NBA academy in India similar to the Dongguan Basketball School in China and his current expectations of the Indian market.

The answer to your second question is absolutely we’re open to opening an academy similar to what we’ve done in China.  It’s something that in fact David is planning to go to the market to Mumbai and other cities in India in the next two months to continue looking at those opportunities.

In terms of growth in India, I think we’re a ways away from scheduling a preseason or regular season game there.  But we’re continuing to grow our digital business, our sponsorship business, our television business, same as we’ve developed markets throughout the world, and we’re encouraged by the growth of the game, the participation by young boys and girls there.  So it’s another market of well over a billion people.  And we’re very hopeful that the game will continue to grow there.



About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.