Disclaimer: This interview is a depiction of the author’s imagination and is as real as Sony’s Interview with Kim Jong-Un.
The surprising free time that James Franco and Seth Rogen found themselves with now that they're not doing publicity for their comedy The Interview, in which they play broadcast journalists who nab a face-to-face from North Korea's Kim Jong-Un, gave us an opportunity to see wat type of nuggets they could pluck from the labyrinth that is Sacramento Kings’ owner Vivek Ranadivé's mind.
DJ: Thanks for joining us for our Three-Man weave with the most talked about owner in the NBA today. I'm just here to moderate.
James Franco: Just think of this as our version of Between Two Ferns, except we won't smoke any trees beforehand. Let’s jump right into it. Vivek, in a shocking move, you recently fired head coach Michael Malone and then explained that the ideal successor be comparable to a jazz director. I guess, what I'm asking is can you specify what genre of Jazz you’re referring to?
Seth Rogen: Contemporary jazz?
Franco: Bebop? The Utah Jazz? Crossover Jazz?
Vikek: Jazz was simply a metaphor for the flow of the offense. Mike Malone played blues notes when we needed…
DJ: Clinton belting out a mellifluous rendition of “Heartbreak Hotel” on the saxophone in front of Arsenio Hall’s live studio offense?
Vivek: Exactly. They was considered so unprofessional at the time. The Lewinsky affair was unprofessional. That was revolutionary for a presidential campaign. Now, we’ve got Obama sitting at The Colbert Show desk. The world’s evolving. I want our team to gin up that type of excitement through unique fan engagement. Avante garde should be our status quo as we embark on the NBA 3.0 epoch.
Franco: So you’d like for fans to have more sexual relations with players and going on conservative talk shows?
Vivek: I believe you extracted the wrong strand of that explanation’s DNA. We simply want to reclaim the passion that this arena was known for in its heyday. Don’t be confused by the Sleep Train Arena name –or by the fact that our first course of action is to construct a new facility, our home court gets louder than any in the league. Our new Sacramento stadium should be an iconon par with San Francisco's Transamerica building or the Sydney Opera House. Postcards of California will have our arena plastered on it."
DJ: But you do realize jazz doesn’t resonate with the core fan base? Even suburban white kids don’t listen to Kenny G on their Beas by Dre headphones.
Rogen: They only know him as the buzzkill from those Snickers commercials combatting hypoglycemia.
DJ: You’ve constantly mentioned the use of technology and how it’s altered the landscape. Reportedly, you offered Carl Landry and Jason Thompson for Josh Smith this summer. How is it that with all these metrics advising against, it you’re still targeting Josh Smith even though he’s one summer away from turning into the benc,h union leader Andre Iguodala is in Golden State.
It’s a lack of self-awareness that even the guy who allowed Jurassic Park to open would wince at.
Vivek: My friend, you do know that’s a fictional motion picture, right?
Franco: Is it? The lines are blurring these days for me. Have you watched the news lately? Also, explain to me how Jurassic Park founder John Hammond is general manager of the Bucks?
(Franco and Rogen crane their necks towards each other, nod their heads in agreement)
Vivek: I…have no response to that, but I will say that I had sold my stake in the Warriors earlier that summer, so the Iguodala signing isn’t on me.
Rogen: Two-pronged question. While we’re on the topic of mad scientists, when you were coach of your daughter’s eighth grade team at Redwood City, you led a team of fundamentally unsound pre-teen girls to the National Junior Basketball national championship by implementing some unorthodox strategies including 4-on-5 defense. Are you trying to recreate that magic with the Kings? Secondly, do you believe that pre-teen girl coaching experience makes you more prepared to deal with the potential of Josh Smith and Boogie on the same team?
Vivek: I am barred from discussing the acquisition of player's that aren't on my roster in further detail.
DJ: Then, what’s the response to critics confused with the hiring of Tyrone Corbin?
Vivek: I told you we wanted a Jazz director. He spent a decade with the Jazz as an assistant and head coach, so in the words of Erykah Badu, we called Tyrone. Look at how much differently things worked out for Bill Russell between coaching the illustrious Celtics and the ’88-89 Kings. Tyrone deserves a second chance with a competent roster.
Franco: You’ve also become known as a bit of a micro-manager. Who’s got more autonomous control over their people—you, Jerry Jones, Manti Te’o in his one-man, 10-team fantasy league or Kim Jong-Un?
Vivek: That’s obvious. Jerry. But I’ll tell you what. My company digitized Wall Street in the 80s and we’ve been leaders in cyber-innovation since. I bet North Korea couldn’t hack the Sacramento Kings. Cyber security isn't about designing the biggest lock and placing it behind barbed wire fence. Hacker technology will always catch up. It's about identifying suspicious behavior. Maybe, I’ll buy Sony one day and show them how it's done..
Franco: That’s got to be a relief. Because if there’s one prevailing fear among NBA owners right now, it’s got to be emails and transcripts getting disseminated publicly.
Rogen: New viruses pop up on my Microsoft software weekly! The Clippers should be careful.
Franco: Who wins a game of 3-on-3 between You, Chris MullIn and minority owner Shaquille O’Neal or Kim Jong, Sleepy Brown and Rodman?
Vivek: MullIin and Shaq are a treacherous inside-outside duo, but, the dirty secret is that Kim Jong-Un wants to own an NBA team one day. He's not helping himself with this Sony stunt.
Rogen: The Kings would probably pique his interest.
Vivek: I don’t follow.
Rogen: Because then he could just re-brand them the Sacramento Kims.
Vivek: As for the draft, we’re developing analytics software that will one day allow us to anticipate which players will translate to the pace of the professional game and prosper. It'll tell us that every time LeBron James missed two shots in a row, he bulldozes into the paint on the third.
The ultimate goal is to ultimately digitize our entire scouting department akin to how Teknekron did with the financial market.
Franco: Seems like the NBA is the new Silicon Valley.
Vivek: Astute observation. This is the Silicon Valley age in sports just as the 80s was the age of real estate moguls swooping in on franchises for bargain-basement prices. Paul Allen owns the reigning Super Bowl champ. Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers from under Donald Sterling’s nose. Mark Cuban’s been making a scene in Dallas for over a decade now. Now SportVu and other data analytics systems are becoming a staple of every front office. Remember when people used to say nerds in high school were the guys jocks would end up working for with the caveat being, 'unless the make it professionally?' These days, those tech nerds are literally the guys that multi-millionaire jocks report to.
DJ: Not Mayor Kevin Johnson.
Vivek: If he wants us to stay in Northern California, he will.
DJ: Good point. We’re running out of time so let’s end with a quick rapid fire of questions.
Rogen: Rapid-fire reminds me of Rudy Gay’s lack of a shooting impulse.
DJ: Maybe you’ll have a shot at J-Smoove without having to give up any assets. The Pistons just waived him this [Monday] afternoon. Any thoughts?
Vivek: My company's predictive software is so advanced, I actual received that real-time news on Sunday. Another MIT alum Daryl Morey, went all out trying to pair him with Dwight Howard in Houston’s frontcourt. He must know something we don’t. You actually wrote that he was once the All-Star team’s leading vote-getter…
DJ: Actually, I said he’d come last in All-Star voting. But if you can fix Rudy Gay, maybe you can put a tourniquet on Josh Smith’s awful shot selection.
Franco: Why would the Kings be interested in Deron Williams? He's an formerNBA All-Star morphing into Samm Levine from Freaks and Geeks. Seth should know, he was on that show.
Rogen: It's true. (emits gruff chucke)
Deron Williams…or nah? pic.twitter.com/hZx7OfLaQq
— DJ Meta Dunson (@CerebralSportex) December 22, 2014
Vivek: Well, just playing devil's advocate I'd say he’s an All-Star-caliber player whose value has bottomed out because of a combination of factors including the lackluster talent surrounding him and the franchise seeking to purge its prodigious salary cap for an impending sale. A potential lineup of Deron, Rudy Gay, the blossoming Ben McClemore, DeMarcus Cousins and Josh Smith could win our fans back in a hurry.
I came to this country with $50 in my pocket as an MIT student and nearly four decades later I’m the billionaire owner of the Sacramento Kings. Nothing is impossible.
Franco: You’re also the first Desi owner in league history. When people discuss minority owners, they often refer Michael Jordan and forget that Indians account for only 0.9% of the population. Do you feel slighted by that exclusion from conversations?
Vivek: Not in the slightest. The sports world will know my name soon. It may stem from the fact that there are a billion of us in India. The Lakers can have Hollywood. Bollywood is the future and so is India’s growing NBA footprint. Abhishek Bachchan will be our Jack Nicholson.
Kings large for @juniorbachchan the King of Bollywood on its way
— Vivek Ranadivé (@Vivek) December 22, 2014
Franco: And Mindy Kaling can be your Penny Marshall.
Rogen: Wow, that’s an incredibly compelling life story. Has anyone ever suggested adapting it into a movie? (reaches into a folder for thick stack of papers)
Vivek: No… Are you handing me a contract?
Franco: This basically stipulates that you would forfeit your right to sue us or Sony for any portrayal of you depicted by our screenplay. It’s really routine stuff.
Rogen: We could get the guy who adapted John du Pont’s spiral into madness for Foxcatcher. It’s a biographical drama about a delusional U.S. Olympic wrestling benefactor in the 90s who basically loses is mind obsessing over the sport… But don’t read too much into that. I'm just spitballin'
Rogen: I don't know, this sounds like more of a Pursuit of Happyness meets Weird Science type of script.
Vivek: I think we’re done here.