Check out quotes from Tuesday’s press conference, featuring Kings Majority Owner Vivek Ranadivé and new member of the Sacramento ownership group, Shaquille O’Neal.
Kings Majority Owner Vivek Ranadivé
“It’s a special day for Sacramento. I’ve been known to say that I like to surround myself with people smarter than me. I’ve done that in the ownership group with people like Mark Mastrov, who revolutionized the fitness industry, and Dr. Paul Jacobs, who invented mobile technology, and now, it’s a special privilege and honor to say that we have Dr. Shaquille O’Neal, arguably one of the most iconic names on the planet.
“Shaquille spent the day with me at my house a few weeks ago with Mark. We shot hoops, we talked about the future of sports, the future of the NBA. We talked about globalization and we talked about our vision for NBA 3.0. During the course of that day, it became clear that this was a partnership that was meant to be. My friend Steve Jobs used to say, ‘Let’s put a dent in the universe,’ and I invited Shaq to help us put a dent in the sports and NBA universe. I asked him to join us as an investor and as a partner, so it’s a great honor and a great privilege today to invite Dr. Shaquille O’Neal and to call him partner.”
On the Kings first regular-season game being televised in India and new arena features:
“We have, right from the get-go, said that part of the NBA 3.0 vision is to build a global brand – and to make the Kings a global brand – so a big part of that is Asia. The markets of the future are China, India – places like that. So we’ve been very focused on building our brand in places like India. The NBA has supported us and is working with us. Our opening night – October 30 – we want it to be, with your help, the biggest opening night in the history of the NBA. The game is going to be televised live in India – there’s going to be a big a screen there, there’s going to be a big party with people watching. There’s a billion people in India, so there are going be lots of people watching this game.
“Dr. O’Neal has been very much a part of this way of thinking. In the discussions that he, Mark and I have had, a big part of our agenda is also to have Shaq help us with building that global brand.
“In terms of the arena, we are setting the bar very high. If you think about it, sports – and basketball, in particular – is one of the few events that can’t be time-shifted. If you think about it, the arena is like a communal fireplace where people gather. The arenas of the 20th century have not differed that much from the coliseums of 2,000 years ago. So, the challenge we have set for our team is to build a truly 21st-century coliseum. It’ll be the first basketball arena that has this indoor-outdoor feature to it, and for concerts and other events, you can actually completely open it up and have 18,000 people inside and another 10,000 people outside. The challenge that we put forth to the team is this has to be the most iconic arena on the planet. When there are planes flying from San Francisco to N.Y., (passengers are) going to be able to look down and say, ‘That’s the Kings arena, they’re playing and there’s something special happening in there.”
On ESPN ranking the Kings as the worst professional franchise in sports:
“(ESPN) should join the 21st century – who wants to read yesterday’s news? By their own admission, that was based on last year’s data and I’m all about real-time. Let’s talk about now. Let’s talk about the fact that we are No. 1 in new ticket sales, we are probably No. 1 in sponsorships, we are going to have the best arena – we can check off a lot of No. 1s. So, that is stale data.”
Kings Owner Shaquille O’Neal
“I’d like to thank everyone for coming out. The conversation came about (because) Mark Mastrov and I have been in business for many years. When I was in Los Angeles – winning championships – after picking the kids up from school and bringing the kids home and putting them to bed, I needed a place where I could work out. Mark – like Vivek said – he revolutionized the fitness business with his 24-Hour Fitness (chain). After I was traded to Miami, there was nowhere to work out at night. So, I Googled Mark Mastrov’s name, got his contact number and I said, ‘Sir, my name is Shaquille O’Neal, I work out at your facilities in California. Can you come out to Miami so we can have a conversation?’ My conversation with Mark was, ‘They don’t have the 24-Hour Fitness brand in Florida. I would like to be your partner in that.’ Mark was very gracious – we built over 20 gyms.
“When out found out that Mark was part of the new ownership (group), I called him. I said, ‘Mark, can I have a conversation with you and Mr. Vivek?’ I knew of Mr. Vivek. I read everything that has to do with Silicon Valley. I like to pride myself in being first on the new technology (front). He’s a software expert, so I knew who he was (and) I was familiar with his business. We had a conversation – he told me about his plans of Sacramento 3.0.
“We’re going to spend over a billion dollars on downtown Sacramento – rejuvenating Sacramento. This new area will be state of the art – it will be the greatest arena in the country. It will be the first cashless arena – for those who don’t know what that means, as long as you have a phone, you can get in. On the phone, it will tell you where the best concession stand is, it will tell you where the bathroom with the smallest line is at – it will tell you everything. It’s all about technology. We want to make Sacramento more of a global brand, we want to create jobs downtown – we want to do a lot.
“What I love about Sacramento – especially back in the old days – it is a tough place to play. I know today, you’re going to question me about my ‘Queens’ comment and all that … I was a marketing expert and I just wanted to rile the people up. It was a tough place to play – we, (the Lakers), were a little bit nervous, but in my mind, if we could survive this and win here in Sacramento, we (would) win the championship. I wanted to bring everybody out – I wanted to bring all the cowbells out, I wanted to bring all the screamers out and I actually knew that I was doing. I understand the passion – a lot of people took it personally, so if I offended anyone, I apologize.
“This day is an exciting day for me, an exciting day for the ownership group. We look forward to the challenges of bringing (the team) back to where it used to be and going even further. The first game will be televised in India – there will be over 600 million people watching – so we want the Sacramento logo to be a worldwide logo. We want everybody to know who we are and what we stand for.
“I was really interested in this team for three reasons – Vivek, Mark Mastrov and DeMarcus Cousins. When I look at DeMarcus Cousins, I see a young Shaquille O’Neal – a guy who was very talented, very stubborn in his ways and liked to do things his own way. Sometimes he gets sort of a bad rep. What changed me and what made me become a winner and a champion was a conversation. It wasn’t about running up and down, it wasn’t about repetitions. When I had a conversation with a guy who was a champion, he changed my whole perspective. That guy was Phil Jackson. As you know, before I met Phil, I was all over the place – I was doing great movies such as “Kazaam,” I was doing rap albums … but then I had a conversation with Phil.
“My job with DeMarcus is not going to be about teaching him moves – it’s going to be about having conversations. We’re going to build the team around DeMarcus – he needs to understand that when you’re the leader, the others will follow when they see you set a perfect example. He’s going to have to play on every play, he’s going to have to accept that leadership role – that’s a conversation I’m going to have with him. The conversations have already started. He’s a very intelligent kid, he’s a bright kid and he hates to lose. When you hate to lose, sometimes you can’t control the things that you say or the things that you do. That’s called passion. I like his passion. Now we have to control that passion and turn it to a passion of fire. When he goes out and plays and does the right things, Isaiah (Thomas) will follow and all the other guys will follow.
“We look forward to bringing Sacramento back to where it used to be. I’d like to thank Vivek and Mark for this great opportunity. I’d like to thank Chris (Mullin) and Shareef (Abdur-Rahim) and the whole town of Sacramento for accepting me. Now, in saying that, the new name of the town will be, ‘Shaqramento’ – the capital of California. Thank you very much.”
On if he plans to attend Kings training camp in Santa Barbara:
“I’ll be here and there. (DeMarcus and I) will be talking everyday – we’re going to be on the iPhone – just going to have communication. Then, when I see something that can tune his game, we’ll be having conversations. I’m not going to be in his face to tell him what it takes to become an All-Star.
“The good thing about me having conversations with him (is) he knows that I know what I’m talking about … all the knowledge that I’ve learned and obtained and the leadership abilities that I think I’m pretty good at, I’m going to relay all that information to DeMarcus Cousins.”
On his decision to come to Sacramento:
“I love change. I’ve known Mark for 10 years now, and Mark is all about change and revolutionizing things. When I met Vivek and he showed me the (arena) plans, it’s like the stuff you see in movies – it really is. He’s designing the indoor-outdoor arena … it’s all 21st century stuff – it’s all futuristic stuff – and to be a part of that is amazing.
“One of the greatest quotes I’ve ever read is, ‘The definition of a great leader is (one) who (is) smart enough to have people around him who are smarter.’ I’m sitting next to two businessmen – brilliant, smart, excellent. What (Vivek) has done in the software industry, what he has done in Silicon Valley, (I hope to) learn from that. I’m in business with guys who have the same and sometimes more passion than I have.
“A lot of times when people talk about California, Sacramento doesn’t come up that much, but I’m guaranteeing you by 2016, they will come here.”
On his role in basketball operations:
“We will have conversations. The good thing about this group (is it’s) a group that’s easy to get along with. We have a great general manager who’s very experienced in the business. One thing about me, I’ve learned when it comes to leadership is never to micromanage … my focus right now is to get DeMarcus Cousins to the level I know he can be at, and that’s what I want to do right now.”