Vivek Ranadive acknowledges his roots whenever someone mentions Mumbai. He may have left the city 40 years ago, but Ranadive still calls himself a true Mumbaikar. After all, the American multimillionaire who founded TIBCO – a real-time computing company – and former co-owner and vice-chairman at Golden State Warriors, is back in Mumbai for the NBA India Games as his Sacramento Kings team will square off against the Indiana Pacers on October 4 and 5.
"I'm happy to be back in the city of my forefathers. These games are a first step in a long journey. I fully expect these games will continue and hopefully, multiple players will come out of India and play in the NBA. And hopefully, we will have more arenas to play these games," Ranadive told reporters ahead of the matches.
Ranadive has previously made several trips to India but this will be the first time he will travel in the country as a team owner for a pre-season game. When he initially took over Sacramento, he had planned to make the games global. After spending nearly six years as the owner of the franchise, Ranadive is now confident that basketball will become the second most popular sport in India after cricket.
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“I believe basketball will be the second-most popular sport in this country. Of course, cricket is the national pass time and it'll be hard to replace in the land of (Sachin) Tendulkar and (Mansoor Ali Khan) Pataudi but basketball and India are meant to be together. This is a game that can be played indoors and outdoors, by boys and girls, in cities and villages and by the rich and poor,” explained the 61-year-old.
The Taj Mahal is the ultimate monument of love, and basketball is all about love. pic.twitter.com/B4RlZR5z7E— Vivek Ranadivé (@Vivek) October 3, 2019
The Kings owner is hopeful that the presence of NBA teams in the country will motivate Indian hoopers. “I hope this is the first step in a long journey. I fully expect these games will continue and in 10 years we will have multiple players coming from India and making it to the NBA system," said Ranadive, who was born in Juhu.
The games are upon us and Ranadive expects the Mumbai crowd to get behind his Kings side when the two teams grace the court on Friday. “I expect every Mumbaikar to be cheering for Sacramento Kings. The Indiana Pacers owner Hebert Simon is a good friend, so I would like people to cheer for his team but I hope the loudest cheer is for my team,” he concluded.