Indian-American tech tycoon Vivek Ranadive has become the majority stakeholder in the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and will keep the team in the California capital.
Ranadive, founder and CEO of multi-billion dollar real-time computing company TIBCO, led a group of investors last week to secure an agreement to buy 65% stake in Sacramento Kings for a league-record valuation of $535 million (Rs 2,937 crore). Ranadive, who landed in the US from Mumbai with $50 in his pocket in 1975, becomes the first National Basketball Association owner of Indian heritage.
The NBA is the most televised basketball league in the world and marquee players LeBron James and Kobe Bryant enjoy worldwide fan following on a par with superstar football and cricket players such as Lionel Messi and Sachin Tendulkar. The NBA also has one of the most robust apparel and merchandise lines.
“It’s going to be exciting. We’re going to build a global brand with the Kings. We’re going to give the fans the product they deserve,” Ranadive, who has a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the MIT and an MA from Harvard, told The USA Today.
“I’m going to do what I do in my business, which is surround myself with people who are way smarter than me. But I am a huge fan. I’m going to be there at all the games, be there to support the team in every way.”
The long awaited deal was announced by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, himself a former NBA player on Friday. “This was one heck of a comeback,” said Johnson as he announced the deal to keep the club in Sacramento city.
Ranadive led the group of investors to buy Sacramento Kings after the NBA Board voted 22-8 against relocation of the team to Seattle.
David Stern, NBA commissioner, hoped the deal would help basketball grow in India, a cricket-loving country of more than 1.2 billion people.