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Chris Grancio Interview

Sat, 06/02/2012 - 5:26pm

NBADraft.net: The adidas Eurocamp is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Talk about what makes the event special.

Mario HezonjaMario HezonjaChris Grancio: Well, you know, I think we're looking at the overall development of the game of basketball. Europe's played an increasingly large role over the last 10 years as the early efforts that the NBA put in broadcasting games and celebrating the game 20 years ago started to come to fruition, The real influx of European players really demanded that there be an opportunity with a predraft experience to help scouts evaluate that whole new set of talent that was coming into the NBA. And although all of the teams are obviously very sophisticated with their scouting, the idea behind the Eurocamp and what it still represents today, is an opportunity to bring the top players across Europe together to compete against each other and be evaluated by NBA franchises and as the game has gotten stronger and stronger in Europe, the Eurocamp platform has gotten stronger and it's proven to be a very valuable asset not only for the adidas brand in terms of establishing our foothold in Europe but also for the NBA overall.

NBADraft.net: Treviso has proven to be an ideal spot for the event with a great facility and most importantly incredible pizza. Has there been any consideration to move the event to a new location, for instance Barcelona, Berlin, somewhere like that?

Chris Grancio: You know, it has come up over the years and during the time that we have been a partner with the camp we just haven't found a facility that we feel suits our needs. When you look at the requirements for housing the players, the youth teams that come in, it's just been a very central location. The La Ghirada sports complex has been a fantastic host with all of the necessary amenities for us and while we'll always continue to look for new places that could possibly host the camp, we've had such tremendous success in Treviso that there just hasn't been the need for a change.

NBADraft.net: You have been with adidas for six years. For people who are unfamiliar, talk a little about your job as adidas Head of Global Basketball Sports Marketing. What is the most rewarding aspect and maybe the most challenging?

Chris Grancio: I've been with adidas for six years and in my current role for right around two years now, and really for me being head of adidas global sports marketing is about making sure that our brand shows up very impactfully, very inspirationally on the field of play and that really means for us, the NBA partnership, which we're the officially outfitter of for the next five years. We're in the middle of that partnership, it's been incredibly beneficial for us in elevating our basketball brand around the world, especially in Europe and Asia. My responsibilities also extend to managing our athlete portfolio, really funding the right players to partner with. And also all of our grassroots events, the Eurocamp in Europe and the adidas Nations platform on the elite side for more high school age kids. I would say the biggest benefit is that I have the best job in the world. I love basketball. I have a passion for it. I love working with our athletes and our partners. And the challenges are the same, we've got a large set of partners, a large number of players that we work with, and it's such a changing landscape but every year our challenge is to make sure that we're just like general mangers, finding the next young talent that we can through the draft process, and bringing on board players that can represent our brand values at a very high level on the court.

NBADraft.net: Where do you see the state of international basketball? Is the popularity still growing as fast as it was 5-10 years ago?

Chris Grancio: Yeah, absolutely. I think that the game is still growing. It certainly reflects a growing business for us. Our business continues to grow in Europe through the strength of our NBA partnership. The game in Europe is as strong as it's ever been. There are always cycles in sports and those cycles are reflected from one country to the next. But when we look across the landscape in Europe, we still see very, very elite, high level quality across the clubs as well as the elite players that are coming over to the US.

NBADraft.net: Which nation or continent do you see having the most room for growth?

Chris Grancio: Well the beautiful part about the game as global as it is, is that there is still huge potential for growth. I think the game is still in it's early development stages in Europe, as mature as it may appear, there's still a long way to go and competing against soccer for dominance of the European landscape, there's still plenty of room for new fan adoption and player adoption there. Asia represents a huge untapped market still. china's the #2 basketball market in the world but the penetration there is still low in terms of the number of kids that are playing, in relation to the total population. Then when we look at markets more broadly like Latin America or in Africa, there's still huge development to be done in terms of making the game more known and more accessible for kids and fans in that part of the world.

NBADraft.net: You touched on this a little bit, adidas has made a strong push to be the leading brand in China. Talk a little about what makes that such an important market.

Chris Grancio: Well in simple terms, China is the second largest sporting goods market in the world behind the US. And as a brand we've been doing business there for 20 years. We have a very mature business there, very established, with a very strong foothold. For us, looking at the size of the market, the opportunities that it represents in terms of the key categories of running, basketball and soccer, there is huge potential there for us to continue to try to grow. Unlike the US where sports are very mature, in China there is still lots of sports development to be done. As the country continues to grow and develop, there is a huge role for us to play as a brand there and making sure that sport is part of that growth.

NBADraft.net: Will we see another Yao Ming any time soon? With basketball becoming so popular there and with such a huge pool to draw from, why do you think China has struggled to produce NBA talent on a more regular basis?

Chris Grancio: Yeah, I think that it's a function of time and accessibility. The level of teaching and coaching in the US and frankly in Europe as well is so much higher still and I think that when we look at the Chinese market with the efforts that the NBA is making there in terms of coaching development programs, it really does come down to the infrastructure, coaching, the programs, to really develop players there, and I'm sure that within the next 10-15 years we will start to see a more steady influx of talent coming out of China at a much higher level.

NBADraft.net: Why do you think Germany has been so slow to embrace basketball despite a player like Dirk Nowitzki as an ambassador?

Chris Grancio: Yeah, Germany is a very mature, very sophisticated sports market, and the best example, although Germany is often considered slow to embrace basketball, the attendance figures for the German Bundesliga are some of the best in Europe. So they consistently draw high crowds. Germany, overall, is a hugely passionate sports market. And it's a place that we still see significant business potential as we look at the passion that the fans do have for the teams, and I think one of the things that we're excited to see is the effort that the club Bayern Munich is putting into basketball in Germany. We think that it can be a real rallying point for the sport overall in the country, as they continue to elevate the quality of their program.

NBADraft.net: With guys like Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose, adidas seems to go after not only high caliber players, but high caliber individuals. How important is having the right individuals to the brand?

Chris Grancio: Well, you know it's hugely important. It's one of the most important parts of my job in terms of evaluating who our brand partners with and who we associate with. It's something that we consider every year, as we get ready for the draft. And whether it's our partnership with the NBA or whether it's individual athletes, we look at all of our brand values, and we take them very seriously from top to bottom within our company and we want our partners to reflect that. For us it is about being honest, authentic, inspirational, innovative, and we want our partners to really reflect that for us. It's what we believe in. It's the way that we've been doing things since our company was founded and it really is critical for us to be true to ourselves and true to our consumers in terms of how we select the partners that we want to reflect the brand. and our family.

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