AL HAMNIK: Highland grad Granger to rekindle Sacramento's NBA passion

2013-07-22T17:00:00Z 2013-10-12T22:03:08Z AL HAMNIK: Highland grad Granger to rekindle Sacramento's NBA passionAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
July 22, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

Chris Granger, take a bow.

Strike up the Highland band. Fireworks are optional.

Little did anyone know, even Granger himself as a pretty good Highland tennis player before graduating in 1989, that he would become one of the NBA's top executives.

But he did as the league's executive vice president of Team Marketing and Business Operations in advising NBA, WNBA and NBA Development League teams on all aspects of business operations.

And on Aug. 1, Granger will officially become president of the Sacramento Kings

This is someone sharper than a barber's razor; a guy with degrees from Cornell, Yale and who spent a year abroad at the prestigious London School of Economics & Political Science.

Impressed? The Kings certainly were.

"We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Chris to Sacramento," Kings' owner Vivek Ranadive said in a news release. "Chris will bring an exceptional blend of expertise and innovation to Sacramento with nearly 15 years of advising teams across the NBA on how to achieve success at the highest levels."

And this, from retiring NBA Commissioner David Stern: "The Kings will benefit greatly from Chris' extensive experience in all facets of team business operations."

Locally, Granger has flown under the radar. Few in the region, except maybe some Highland teachers, had followed his career. Granger was never one to brag or thump his chest, even when visiting from New York with wife Jennifer and daughters Zoe and Megan.

But the inescapable national spotlight is on him now.

"I've just been lucky throughout my career with opportunities and this one certainly was not on the radar," said Granger, who had previously held leadership positions with the Walt Disney World Company.

"It's exciting to work for a great ownership group, in a city that has a phenomenal fan base, and to do something with an arena that's going to re-shape downtown Sacramento. These are things I couldn't pass up."

Even before Granger's hire, the Kings already were leading the NBA in new full season ticket sales for 2013-14 -- and it's only July.

"The fans are passionate, the local business leaders are sophisticated and engaged, and there is an unmatched sense of community throughout the region," Granger said of the key factors in making this work.

The Kings have had only seven winning seasons since 1985-86 and have missed the playoffs the last seven years.

"People are excited for a new regime. They're ready to go and rekindle the passion in Sacramento," Granger said.

There is no longer an off-season, which often leads to burnout among league coaches and those in the front office. Bring on the helter-skelter lifestyle. He's ready.

"I'm going to work with a tremendous group of owners and executives who will -- in addition to the city itself -- inspire me everyday," Granger said.

And to think. It all began here.

"I love Highland and I will always be a Trojan," Granger said. "Teachers were great. My tennis experience there was second to none. My classmates were great. I miss it all."

And when his Kings play in Chicago next season, Chris Granger plans to be there, renewing old friendships. Stop and say, "Hi." He'd love to chat.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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