Pirates of the Central Valley: Vivek Ranadivé, DeMarcus Cousins and putting a dent in the NBA


On Monday afternoon Vivek Ranadivé and Michael Malone laid out their plans to shift the culture of the Sacramento Kings. Are they up for the task?

In 1976 a couple of young entrepreneurs dared to dream they could change the world, and a revolution was born in a California garage. In 1977, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, invented what would become the first mass-produced personal computer as we know it today, the Apple II. It wasn't designed exclusively for scientists or hobbyists; it was a computer for the rest of us. The big boys at IBM mocked them. They said it was "too small to do personal computing" and called it "unimportant to their business." The rest is history.

On the backs of dreamers and visionaries, Silicon Valley quickly became the leader in a cutthroat tech arms race that would transform California, and the rest of the world, forever. Men like Woz and Jobs, the crazy ones, would shift the world off its axis by doing it their way. Their earlier exploits, along with those of a gentleman by the name of Bill Gates, are chronicled in a documentary called Pirates of Silicon Valley (later adapted into a feature length drama).

Today Apple Inc. is the most valuable company in the world that doesn't sell oil. By focusing on the smallest of details, Steve Jobs was able to churn out industry creating products the rest of us didn't even know we wanted yet. Responsible for forever changing the way we listen to music. Allowing us to access a world's worth of data on our cell phone. The list goes on.

The Hollywood adaptation of their story starts off with Jobs speaking to the camera and saying, "I don't want you to think of this as just a film - some process of converting electrons and magnetic impulses into shapes and figures and sounds - no. Listen to me. We're here to make a dent in the universe. Otherwise, why even be here?"

But, what does any of THIS have to do with the Sacramento Kings?

On Monday afternoon, Kings fans were formally introduced to new head coach Michael Malone. With new owner Vivek Ranadivé at his side, he calmly explained his vision for the future of the Sacramento Kings. It would start by changing the culture of a team that over the past several years was more dysfunctional than the Lannisters on Game of Thrones.

Malone says wins and losses will be secondary, while player development and defense will be stressed. While these aren't revolutionary ideas, they're definitely foreign concepts to last year's Sacramento Kings. Changing the culture of this team will be a daunting task, one that most coaches would probably balk at. But if you ask me, Malone appears ready for the challenge.

Michael, a no-nonsense defensive evangelist who helped improve defenses in each of his previous stops in the NBA, probably learned a thing or two from his father. And his father, Brendan Malone, well he's no slouch either. Personally credited by many for orchestrating a Pistons defense that dismantled Michael Jordan's Bulls year after year, Brendan Malone is basically the reason you know who the Bad Boys are.

Vivek recently laid out the strategy he uses when assembling talent to build a company. Unafraid of egos, Vivek says he loves to hire prima donnas, because they deliver great value when they have the goods to back it up.

You want to change the culture of the Sacramento Kings? You want to start a revolution and put this team back on the map? These are the kinds of guys you call. Guys with a vision ... and the skills to back it up.

At the end of the day this is still Sacramento and we're still talking about the Kings. The locations of people who believe we can be successful don't often extend more than 50 miles from the capital building in any direction. But we're used to that. Just like that little company that started in a humble California garage, we're led by hand full of Silicon Valley's finest. Guys like Vivek Randivé, who came to this country with $50 in his pocket and a dream. Guys on the cutting edge of technology and innovation, like Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs and former Facebook exec Chris Kelly. Guys like Andy Miller, who moved to California when his company was acquired by Apple and fell in love with Kings fans like you. Guys who stared down Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and didn't blink once.

Can these kings of Silicon Valley become the new Pirates of the Central Valley? Can they return this once proud franchise to its former glory? Can Mike Malone put the kind of product on the floor that does this diehard fan base justice? Can they help transform Sacramento into the world class city we all deserve?

When asked how Vivek and Malone plan to deal with DeMarcus Cousins, Vivek replied, "I said my friend Steve Jobs liked to say ‘let's put a dent in the universe' and DeMarcus, ‘let's do something big.' He said, ‘I liked the sound of that'."

First of all, how cool would be it to start off a sentence with "my friend Steve Jobs?" Second of all, if anyone is capable of putting a dent in the universe, surely it's DeMarcus Cousins. Let's just hope he's listening, and Malone can help rein him in, because DMC is EXACTLY the kind of talent Vivek is looking for.

Maybe the culture shift has already started? Maybe in 30 years we'll get to watch this saga unfold again in a Hollywood movie? Picture it now. The movie opens with Vivek looking directly into the camera, and he says:

"I don't want you to think of this as just another ‘basketball team' - just a collection of talented individuals, compensated like modern day deities for playing a kids game. Just a fun way to spend an evening and forget the troubles of the day. No, listen to me. We're here to make a dent in the universe. Otherwise ... why even be here?"

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