Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Yeshwant Ranadive, who calls himself a true ‘Mumbaikar’, has said that watching his team play an NBA pre-season game in Mumbai is the most exciting day of his life. Ranadive believes basketball can become the second most popular sport in India in the future.
Born and raised in the city of Mumbai, Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Yeshwant Ranadive calls himself a true ‘Mumbaikar’. The business tycoon is excited to bring his team to his hometown for the NBA pre-season fixture against Indiana Pacers. So, when the two teams lock horns on Friday and Saturday at the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) Dome in Mumbai, the 61-year-old is expecting the Mumbaikars to come and cheer for the Kings.
Ranadive, who grew up in the Juhu area of Mumbai and has a special connection with his childhood city, is extremely excited about the upcoming NBA game there.
“My heart and soul belongs to Bombay. I used to drive past here every day, see Haji Ali (dargah) on my way to Bombay International School — where I studied. To see an actual NBA game here is beyond my wildest dreams To be able to actually have a pre-season game for my Sacramento Kings against Indiana Pacers is one of the most exciting days of my life,” says Ranadive, the founder and former CEO of TIBCO, a billion-dollar real-time computing company.
In the last few years, players like Satnam Singh have been drafted into the NBA but failed to make it count. Now with NBA coming to India, Ranadive feels it would be surprising if more Indian players do not take the leap from the Junior leagues to the big stage and make a name for themselves.
“The NBA is the best league in the world. It’s hard for any place to make it there... This is the most elite league in sports and it just requires an elite level of not just skills but athletic abilities as well,” explained Ranadive about the difference between the Indian game and the NBA level.
Talking about De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III, Ranadive described his Sacramento Kings team this year as “a young and athletic team” and he expects them to score a lot of points and give tough competition to everyone. Ranadive believes “basketball will be the second most popular sport in the country.”
He does not deny the fact that India is a cricketing nation and it is near impossible to overpower cricket in the country but he still feels basketball will get popular soon.
“Basketball and India are meant to be together. This is a game that can be played by boys, girls, indoors, outdoors in cities, villages... It doesn’t need a lot of space like cricket does. There’s no city in the world that represents basketball more than Mumbai. Mumbai is Bollywood, fashion, excitement, spice, music; it’s a spectacle. Basketball is a spectacle. It’s a vibe. This sport is going to be popular in India,” he concluded.