Kings owner looks to transform side into 'India's team'

Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:43pm EST
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By Will Robinson

SACRAMENTO (Reuters) - In January, the Sacramento Kings appeared to be erased from the NBA after the owners, the Maloof family, agreed with a Seattle-based investment group to sell and relocate the team.

By May, the NBA voted against relocation and helped usher in a new ownership group led by tech developer and philanthropist Vivek Ranadive, retaining the team in California's capital.

In six months, the former minority owner of the Golden State Warriors has overhauled business and basketball operations to realize his vision of making basketball and the Kings the world's game and team, respectively.

Former NBA executive Chris Granger, now the Kings president, was lured to the city when the Maloofs flirted with a possible Anaheim, California, move in 2011 and during Ranadive's initial visits earlier this year.

"I was and remain inspired by the vision and ambition of our ownership group," Granger said on Tuesday. "Our fans and their passion and resiliency is second to none. And I think the project, in terms of building what we hope to be the most talked about arena in the world, is a once in a lifetime opportunity."

The arena, slated to open in 2016 in the core of downtown Sacramento, is designed by AECOM, designers of the Brooklyn Nets' Barclays Center.

But winning over jaded fans will be a process; last season, the Kings ranked dead last in attendance as uncertainty mired the side.

"It's tough to put money into an organization that you're not sure is gonna be here for the long run, and the uncertainty, it's gotta be frustrating," forward Jason Thompson said of regaining fans. "But it's long gone, and I'm glad I don't have to answer any questions whether we're staying or moving."   Continued...