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The NBA Kings have hired a top league exec in CHRIS GRANGER as team President, as the team's new ownership group puts its own stamp on the franchise. Granger joined the NBA in June '99 and has been Exec VP/Team Marketing & Business Operations since '09. He begins his new job Aug. 1 and reports to Managing Partner VIVEK RANADIVE. “It starts with Vivek and what I think is a tremendous ownership group,” Granger said. “The big opportunity is to re-establish our connection with the fans and business leaders. It has been a tumultuous few years (for the Kings) and rebuilding the relationships that once were strong is very important now.” Kings President of Business Operations MATINA KOLOKOTRONIS, CFO JOHN RINEHART and Senior VP/Sales & Marketing JEFF DAVID will report to Granger. Recently hired GM PETE D’ALESSANDRO reports to Ranadive. Granger is no stranger to the Kings given that his department has helped operate the franchise during the protracted sale by the MALOOF family, which ended this spring. “Chris will bring an exceptional blend of expertise and innovation to Sacramento, informed by nearly 15 years of advising teams across the NBA on how to achieve success at the highest levels,” Ranadive wrote in an e-mail. NBA Senior VP/Marketing & Business Operations AMY BROOKS will replace Granger. She was assigned to the Kings, Warriors, Heat and Nets, and she will oversee a staff of more than 40. Brooks joined the NBA in '05 and will report to NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO ADAM SILVER.
Legends has made a major hire, as AEG President of Global Partnerships SHERVIN MIRHASHEMI has agreed to become the company's new President & COO. He will join the firm in the near future, company officials said. Mirhashemi steps into a newly created position reporting directly to Legends Chair & CEO DAVE CHECKETTS. Mirhashemi will oversee day-to-day operations for all Legends divisions covering foodservice and merchandise, sales and marketing, facility research and development, and attractions. He will remain in L.A. and open up a new West Coast office, joining Legends’ N.Y. HQs and a second office in Dallas. Mirhashemi spent 12 years with AEG and was principally involved in brokering the $700M naming-rights deal for Farmers Field, AEG’s proposed NFL stadium in L.A. Most recently, he sold naming rights for StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Legends, co-owned by the Yankees, Cowboys and the Checketts Partners Investment Fund, has deals with the 49ers, Browns and Redskins, in addition to Churchill Downs, Circuit of the Americas and the Rose Bowl. Legends was recently awarded operation of One World Observatory, to be located at the top of One World Trade Center in N.Y. The observatory is scheduled to open in the spring of ‘15.
After beginning his sports career in print journalism with stints at the Camden (N.J.) Courier-Post and Buffalo News, VIC CARUCCI was one of the first to make the jump to the Web when he was hired by NFL.com in ’99. Now Browns Radio Daily Senior Editor, Carucci feels he has adjusted well to the multimedia era. He recently discussed front office changes at the Browns, the next steps for digital sports media and his favorite way to relax.
Going from covering a league of 32 to one specific team…
This was the thing that really attracted me to the Browns. When you’re covering the game for NFL.com, you’re really taking kind of a 30,000-foot perspective. That’s fun and interesting, but it doesn’t connect you to the passion that a single fanbase has. When you’re embedded with a team, it’s an entirely different feeling of the passion of the fans. There’s a lot of tradition in Cleveland, and the job is unique because the setup puts you literally in the inner workings of the team and you’re surrounded by the coaching staff and the personnel staff and you’re all in it together.
On leeway from the organization to criticize the team...
It’s remarkable how little interference there is to doing the job. I have a pretty wide open license in that regard to talk about the team as I see it. I certainly try to be fair. I always have. And I think spending 12 years covering the NFL for the league’s website and network was great preparation. In all that time, I never ran in to any issues whatsoever of being told, “You’ve got to pull back on this” or “You’ve stepped in to something here that’s upset an owner or coach or whatever.” And I’m proud of the fact that I’ve not run into that in my time with Cleveland. If anything, there’s great support to be lively with the content, to give people what they want in terms of information and analysis in ways that they want to consume it because you’re competing with the mainstream outlets. The leadership of this team has a lot of savvy when it comes to understanding media business.
The next step for digital sports media…
Teams are still just scratching the surface of what they could do. I’ve seen just in the short time I’ve been with the Browns. One of the exciting things we’ve done is to have a live look-in on a minicamp with a webcam and analysis of that. We got tremendous response to that and it will open the door to much more during training camp. Where I see most of the team media platforms going, particularly the websites, is pulling back the curtain even further. The behind-the-scenes, exclusive access stuff. Fans expect that now, and fan expectations drive what we do. It seems like ancient history when I remember sitting in on an editorial meeting at a newspaper where you determine what the news of the day was and how it was going to be presented. That’s dead. Now you are responding and reacting and molding your coverage to fans' needs, wants and demands.
The best advice I have for up and coming sports journalists is…
Be true to who you are. Don’t try to imitate someone else even though you might admire their style as a writer or broadcaster, because not only will you not be that person, you won’t be yourself. You need to develop your own style.
One of my most memorable interview moments…
The funniest moment where I kind of blew up an interview was when I posed a question to DICK VERMEIL when he was with the Eagles. He started to break down and cry during the response. I felt kind of bad because everybody kind of turned around and said, “You pushed his buttons.” I can’t remember what the issue was, but it kind of brought the whole interview room to a standstill. So you don’t know sometimes what’s going to trigger a certain response. Vermeil is known for being very emotional as a coach it didn’t take much to get him to cry.
The first media I consume every day…
Twitter. It allows me to get a pretty good handle on what is trending. And the way my Twitter follows are set up, I’m pretty heavy with football and NFL-related Tweeters. Those kind of help shape what I know about the day in the morning. The other thing I like about Twitter is the links that I can follow to anything I need to read more extensively.
The technology that has most changed my work life…
The iPad because of its portability and ability to let me consume media while also being functional. There’s something about having it with me. It doesn’t take up much space in my binder and that gives me a sense of comfort. If I need to spring into action, I can pull out the iPad and get it done.
Favorite food joints in Cleveland…
Mike’s Bar & Grill right up the road from our HQs (in Berea) is great for lunch because I like the food and they play classic rock music. And if I’m looking for a good place for dinner downtown, you can’t beat Blue Point Grille. I’m a big seafood fan and it’s tremendous. My go-to-order is any kind of tuna steak.
When I need to relax I…
Ride a bike, and I don’t mean stationary bike. I get outside. Cleveland has an amazing system called the Lake to Lake Trail System. It has walking and biking trails that are just beyond belief. I would dare say it’s as good as any metropolitan area in the country. I haven’t covered all of the ground because I think there are hundreds of miles of trails. There’s one entry to it not far from where I live and I love to hop on my bike and just hit that and go.
YES Network promoted Senior Dir of Broadcast Operations MIKE WEBB to VP/Broadcast Operations and Production Planning Manager ROB BRINKMANN to Dir of Studio & Production Planning (YES)....World Fishing Network removed the interim tag for President & CEO KIM CARVER after she served in the role on an interim basis since October. Carver also will continue to serve as Altitude Sports & Entertainment President & CEO. Additionally, STEVE HURLBUT was named Advisor to the CEO (WFN)....The Univ. of Nebraska named Univ. of Miami Deputy AD & COO STEVE WATERFIELD Senior Associate AD/Performance & Strategic Research effective Aug. 5 (THEINDEPENDENT.com, 7/9)....The ECHL named VALERIE PERSINGER Exec/Marketing Assistant (ECHL).
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Former NHLers SCOTT NIEDERMAYER and CHRIS CHELIOS, NHL VP/Player Safety & Hockey Operations BRENDAN SHANAHAN, former Canadian Olympian GERALDINE HEANEY and late NHL exec FRED SHERO were "voted on by an 18-member selection committee" for the '13 Hockey HOF class. The class will be "formally inducted Nov. 11 in Toronto" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/10). In N.Y., Larry Brooks writes Shero had the "most brilliant of hockey minds" and was "charismatic, mysterious and flawed" (N.Y. POST, 7/10).
LEAVE IF YOU WANT TO: Univ. of Kentucky education professor JOHN THELIN in a letter to the N.Y. Times wrote the "conferences and their universities represent the '1 percent' -- that elite group of college sports programs that have become rich, powerful and successful. So why don’t they just walk away from the NCAA?" Thelin: "I hope that the 1 percent who are threatening to leave the NCAA do leave. It might prompt those athletic directors, presidents and boards to appreciate their traditional privileges, which would be jeopardized if they left" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/10).
SILVER SCREEN: Screenwriters ERIC JOHNSON and PAUL TAMASY have "snapped up feature film rights" to the forthcoming book on the Boston Marathon bombings titled "BOSTON STRONG" by CASEY SHERMAN and Boston Herald reporter DAVE WEDGE. Johnson and Tamasy wrote the screenplay for "THE FIGHTER" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/9)....Steelers investor THOMAS TULL's Legendary Pictures is "near an agreement on a multiyear deal that would have Universal distributing and, in some cases, co-financing movies it produces" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/10).
CHARITY STRIPE: Texans QB MATT SCHAUB and wife LAURIE yesterday presented a $250,000 donation to expand the emergency center at Texas Children's Hospital West Campus. The donation is part of a $1M pledge raised through their GR8 Hope Foundation (Texas Children's Hospital)....Dolphins DT PAUL SOLIAI donated $250,000 to the Univ. of Utah's new football center (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 7/9).
CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN: ESPN NFL analyst RAY LEWIS was "unable to make the climb of Mount Kilimanjaro because of a foot injury and fever," but during his visit to Africa "conducted an impromptu meeting" with Tanzania President JIKAYA KILWETE and gave him a Ravens cap. Lewis "spent over an hour" with Kilwete and "received an invitation to return in the future for service" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 7/9).
COURT REPORT: Heat G DWYANE WADE's ex-wife SIOHVAUGHN WADE said that she is owed at least $1M from "endorsements and other income, alleging in a lawsuit filed in Cook County last week that Wade has engaged in a conspiracy to deprive her of the money." She is suing Wade, his "attorney, his financial adviser and companies with which she believes he has endorsement deals for allegedly refusing to uphold an agreement that required the money to be placed in a joint bank account" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/10).
NAMES: Serie A club Inter Milan President MASSINO MORATTI "recently revealed that takeover talks were still ongoing" with 76ers and MLS DC United investor ERICK THOHIR (GOAL.com, 7/5)....Former NHLer GEORGES LARAQUE yesterday said that he will "campaign for a seat from Montreal in Canada's House of Commons." Laraque in recent years has "become known for his political activism as a vegan, animal-rights crusader and environmentalist" (AP, 7/9)....Wasserman Media Group has signed EPL club Manchester United MF RYAN GIGGS. Giggs will be repped by RHODRI BURGESS (WMG)....Pro Football HOFer DON SHULA opened his 34th restaurant in Delray, Fla., last month, debuting fast-casual restaurant Shula Burger at Delray Marketplace as the “latest concept for Shula’s Steak Houses.” Another Shula Burger is “slated to open in Kissimmee in October” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/10)….Thunder F KEVIN DURANT purchased two townhomes in an Oklahoma City suburb and “plans to convert them into one 7,400-square-foot residence” (TULSA WORLD, 7/9)….Lakers C CHRIS KAMAN sold his Manhattan Beach, Calif., home for $4.2M (LATIMES.com, 7/9)….SERENA WILLIAMS “will host the BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis" on Aug. 22 with chef MARCUS SAMUELSSON (N.Y. POST, 7/10)….Ravens RB RAY RICE attended WWE’s Monday Night Raw in Baltimore “sporting a Brooklyn Nets hat he donned sideways” (BALTIMORESUN.com, 7/9).