Kings' Ranadive Ready To Take NBA To Home Country of India
The Kings and Pacers play a pair of exhibition games on Friday and Saturday in Mumbai, fulfilling the desire of Kings Owner & Chair Vivek Ranadive for the NBA to "host preseason games in his native India," according to Mark Medina of USA TODAY. When Ranadive bought the Kings in '13, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver "promised Ranadive that would happen eventually," and nearly "six years later, it has." Ranadive said, "It's been a long journey, but the NBA has kept its promise to me." When Ranadive met with NBA officials, he "often referred to India as 'the next great frontier' for basketball." The league opened an office in India in '11. In '14, Silver "traveled with Ranadive to India to explore more initiatives." The league launched NBA Academy India in '17 for elite prospects. It also "televised more than 350 games in India, and it hosted 25 after-school and five in-school basketball programs." Since Ranadive bought the franchise, Sony has "broadcast more than 140 Kings games in India." The Kings' plans include "visiting the Taj Mahal [today], hosting a practice and NBA Cares clinic (Wednesday) and completing their preseason games" on Friday and Saturday in Ranadive's home town. For the first exhibition game, the NBA will "invite 3,000 kids that participated with the Jr. NBA program." Lastly, the NBA also will "refurbish local courts and schools" (USA TODAY, 10/1).
TRAVELING IN STYLE: In Sacramento, Jason Anderson noted the Kings will travel to India aboard "Air Drake," a $185M Boeing 767-200ER that belongs to rapper Drake. Kings coach Luke Walton, G De'Aaron Fox and F Marvin Bagley III credited Ranadive for "making arrangements to use the airplane, saying the plane's first-class accommodations will make the 19-hour flight to India more comfortable" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 9/29). Kings F Harrison Barnes said, "Vivek's first class. He's first class, him and [Kings VP/Basketball Operations & GM Vlade Divac], they always want the best. They were able to make sure we get over there in good fashion" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/28).