It appears the fortunes of professional basketball in Northern California, which have languished near laughingstock status for years, have begun a remarkable turnabout. We couldn't be happier or more hopeful.
The once woeful Golden State Warriors and the similarly situated Sacramento Kings have both made splashy headlines lately that indicated the respective franchises may be coming back to life.
The Warriors, of course, had an exceptional regular season and made a strong run in the playoffs, finally losing a tough-fought series with the San Antonio Spurs. They also have announced plans to move across the bay after building a new waterfront arena. It remains to be seen whether that can be accomplished, but it has caused buzz to swirl around the franchise.
The Kings franchise, which had bags packed for an expected move to Seattle, was suddenly rescued by a new ownership group that wants not only to keep the franchise in California's capital city but also to partner in building a new downtown arena that they promise will be the most digitally connected such facility in the nation.
In each case the sudden infusion of optimism is refreshing and meaningful. Losing its only major-league sports franchise would have been devastating to Sacramento.
Close examination of both reversals of fortune reveals a common thread: Silicon Valley executive Vivek Ranadive.
Three years ago, Ranadive -- who runs Tibco Software, a $1 billion-a-year software firm in Palo Alto that specializes in data analysis and e-commerce -- was a substantial player in the ownership group that freed the Warriors from the clutches of then-owner Chris Cohan. Ranadive became vice chairman of the Warriors as well as the first Indian-American owner in the National Basketball Association.
Earlier this year, when Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, himself a former NBA star, sounded a clarion call for help in keeping the Kings in Sacramento, it was Ranadive who answered. He amassed an ownership group that includes wealthy investors from Silicon Valley, the East Bay, San Diego and Sacramento.
With the help of NBA owners in other cities who did not want to see the team move to Seattle, Ranadive's group won the bidding war for the franchise. He must now divest his interest in the Warriors, but that should not be a tough sell since the franchise's value has clearly climbed after this year's performance.
Ranadive is no trust-fund baby buying a new toy. He is the poster child for overcoming odds through hard work. He came to this country when he was 16 with $50 in his pocket only to earn a master's degree in electrical engineering from MIT and an MBA from that other Cambridge, Mass., school -- Harvard University.
In 1997, he founded Tibco and became known as a very hands-on CEO, building an impressive client list that includes airlines, utility firms and Yahoo.
He has promised to be hands-on in his endeavor with the Kings. Based on his track record of success that can only be a good thing for professional basketball in Northern California.