The business of basketball is many things. It can be exciting, exhilarating and excruciating all at the same time. Players play, coaches coach, team staff supports and team owners manage from behind the scenes.
Mainly, the business of basketball is busy.
Such is life for Kings Co-Owner Gavin Maloof.
"Every day changes," he said. "Every week is different from the previous week. Really, my life changes daily." Though both Joe and Gavin Maloof have offices at ARCO Arena and the Kings practice facility, much of the work takes place over the phone. And what doesn't take place on the phone is handled elsewhere, such as media appearances, watching practice and workouts, working with Team Member employees, meeting people in the community and talking with the team's leadership team of Geoff Petrie and John Thomas.
"I'd say an average day, I probably answer or make 30 calls," Gavin said. "I make calls to our beer distributorship and talk to John Thomas about ticket sales, and to Geoff Petrie about the status of the team."
Thomas, president of Maloof Sports & Entertainment, oversees all business aspects of the organization, including team and arena ticket sales, strategic alliances and brand development, arena operations and the company's community service efforts. Petrie, the Kings president of basketball operations, oversees all things basketball. "I think we have two of the best in the country in John Thomas and Geoff Petrie," said Gavin. "You've got two men who are loyal, honest, hard working and very, very intelligent. Very bright."
|Watching practice: Geoff Petrie, Gavin Maloof and Director of Player|
Personnel, Jerry Reynolds
Named president of the Houston Rockets at age 24 following the death of his father, Gavin admits that with all his years around the game, he's still no expert. "We've been owners and around basketball for most of our lives, but the technical aspects of the game, I'm still trying to grasp," he said. "We like to listen to the experts. We listen to the people who know basketball. Everybody thinks they know basketball, but once you get to it you realize you don't know the game as well as the experts."
Gavin said Petrie explains things "right," when it comes to discussing the various offensive and defensive sets, and the descriptions are simple and understandable. "It's interesting to get the perspective of someone who's an expert."
Painting the Town
In October, the entire Kings team visited sites all-over the Sacramento community as part of the league's Paint the Town program. Paint the Town is an NBA Cares event in which the players interact with the public at different venues. Joining Kings Brad Miller and Donté Greene at Best Buy, and Kevin Martin at Bel Air, Gavin made the rounds to chat it up with fans.
"It's just rewarding for me to come out and see Kings customers and fans. They love the team and they love our players so it's a lot of fun," Gavin said.
"We try to make a conscious effort to get the team out in the community so that people can introduce themselves. They can meet them. They can touch and feel them and get to know them, because this is a whole new group. It's important that we make the connection with the fans and the players, and they (fans) get to know this group."
Gavin said most fans are optimistic about the team. As a fan, he realizes how frustration sets in when the wins aren't piling up. As an owner, he's confident about the team's future because of the solid personnel pieces being assembled. "I think people like what they see," he said. "It's taken us a couple of years to transform us into a longer, stronger, younger, more athletic team. Things like that take time. You can't do it overnight. You can't do it in one year.
"I think fans understand, but you know, it's black and white sometimes. They want to win, and I understand that. And we're trying to win. We have a team that was in the playoffs eight straight years. Sports is a cycle, and we just happen to be in the last couple of years of the down cycle. We're on our way back up."
Checking Out the Team
For the basketball executive, sometimes the business side of the game becomes all-encompassing. Strategic plans for partners are formed, negotiations come into play daily and taking time to simply enjoy a game of hoops can get lost in the woodwork.
But that's not really the case for Gavin Maloof. He's truly a fan of the game. Many times he's the most visibly rabid fan on the floor, waving his hands in the air, whistling with his fingers — he's even been known to dance behind the basket.
So it's no surprise he takes every chance he gets to watch the team, whether it be at practice, on the road in another city or at home at ARCO Arena.
"It's exciting this year," he said after watching a recent practice, visibly animated about the prospects of a new season and young team. "Remember, we have a good young team. We'll have a number of draft picks in the coming years and future cap flexibility."
Does the owner's presence at practice make the team work harder? "No I don't think so," he cackled. "I think the coaches got them working pretty hard!"
Power of the Press
|Gavin Maloof sits in studio with
KHTK Sports 1140|
host Grant Napear
Almost daily, the Maloofs work with the media to discuss the goings on with the Kings or one of their other companies. Regardless of what's being discussed, Gavin said the philosophy stays the same.
"We have one rule of thumb. We don't say anything negative in the media. Anything negative should be discussed behind closed doors, and shouldn't have the media involved. That's what we believe and that's what we've been taught."
The Principals of Customer Service
The foundation of the Maloof business model is customer service. "From the days of my grandfather's general store to our entire operation now, the Maloof family business philosophy always has been centered around complete customer and employee satisfaction. In Sacramento, the fans are our customers and providing a great experience for them is our goal," Gavin said.
He noted how critical it is for employees to be mindful of the company's customer service philosophy, and to instill this value over and over again. "I used to go to all the Coors meetings with my dad. He'd give the same speeches over and over. So one time I said, ‘Dad, I've heard this speech a million times.' He said, ‘You're going to hear it another million times, because you have new employees coming in all the time.' So you have to keep reiterating and telling people what your ideals are, what your values are and what your philosophies are."
Gavin is proud of his family's commitment to customer service, and grateful of his family's accomplishments because of the way it takes care of its fans and guests. He's confident his father would be happy as well. "I think he'd be proud of what we've put together," Gavin said. "It's really a great story. We've had a lot of success here. Being in the playoffs so many years doesn't just happen. You have to have the right organization, and you have to have the right people."