With the news of the Warriors partnering with Rakuten for the jersey badge opportunity, warriors.com had the opportunity to speak with executives from both organizations. Here are a few highlights from that conversation with Warriors CMO Chip Bowers and Rakuten founder and CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani.
Why is Rakuten the right partner for the Warriors?
Chip Bowers (CB): It gets back to the people. At the end of the day, we wanted to work with a first class brand, which we accomplished with Rakuten, but just as importantly we wanted to work with first class people. From the very beginning, we met Mickey and his team and they came in with a plan. It was obvious that they had discussed the opportunity prior to meeting with us, they had a strategy for how they wanted to build their brand in North America, very much aligned with how we see building our own business. When I met Mickey, it immediately reminded me of Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. You have the entreprenuial spirit of Joe and the vision of Peter. When you think about adding people to your family, it’s important that you know everybody is going to get along and we are going to roll in the same direction.
Why are the Warriors right for Rakuten?
Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani (HM): Of course, the Warriors are the greatest brand in the NBA, and not only in the NBA but probably U.S. sports in general right now. And not only are they very strong, the style they play basketball is very unique, very intelligent and very creative. And of course the executive team is extremely well managed and I wouldn’t want any other deal than this.
What does this partnership mean to the organization?
CB: It’s really important. If you think about the fact they’re going to be over our heart 82 games a year, preseason, playoffs and Summer League, you got to align with the right brand. A brand that not only our players are going to be proud of, but also our fanbase. Yes, we’re a private entity, but we’re very much a part of the public trust. So when our fans wear our jersey, it’s important that they feel good about the alignment that we’re creating with the badge opportunity. That was key to us.
FC Barcelona is a partner of Rakuten’s as well, what does it mean to Rakuten to have both the Warriors and FC Barcelona now as part of the family?
HM: There is no better combination than Barca and the Warriors. It’s unbelievable to have these two sports organizations. I think they are the strongest and extremely well-respected. Of course, sometimes people don’t like the Warriors or FCB because they are too strong, but they have a very tremendous respect. Nobody hates the Warriors or Barcelona because they are very open, honest and great organizations. Of course there is a rivalry among teams and clubs, but everybody respects these two teams and we’re extremely honored to be part of the family.