How the NBA’s Data Revolution Can Make Basketball the Global Sport

The owner of the Sacramento Kings wants to make his team the poster child for big data in sports.

The Sacramento Kings' Isaiah Thomas (22) drives to the basket against the Utah Jazz' Trey Burke (3) at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013.
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Matt Berman
Dec. 18, 2013, 5:52 a.m.

“When I look at bas­ket­ball,” Sac­ra­mento Kings own­er Vivek Ra­na­divé says, “I look at it as a big-data prob­lem.” Ra­na­divé bought the Kings this past sum­mer and is already try­ing to think of ways to re­vo­lu­tion­ize en­ter­tain­ment and the NBA. “I want to make the Kings the poster child for the use of big data,” he says.

Ra­na­divé is not alone. The NBA it­self is pub­licly em­bra­cing the sports-stat­ist­ics renais­sance, most not­ably with its new Sports­VU cam­er­as now in every arena in the league. Want to know who the fast­est play­er is in the NBA? Or who has the most re­bound op­por­tun­it­ies per game? Now you can find out.

But Ra­na­divé isn’t look­ing at data just for the sake of it. He’s try­ing to help es­tab­lish an NBA 3.0, which “is really about mak­ing bas­ket­ball the sport of the 21st cen­tury.” It’s driv­en by tech­no­logy, glob­al­iz­a­tion, and bas­ket­ball act­ing as an agent of good in the com­munity.

To find out more about why Ra­na­divé was drawn to bas­ket­ball, and where he thinks the league is go­ing, see the full in­ter­view here.


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