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GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 12, 2017
TIM ROYE: Good morning. How's everybody doing today? For those who don't know me, my name is Tim Roye. For the last 23 years I've had one of the great jobs in the world, and that is to be the voice of the now-once-again defending champion Golden State Warriors.
As we start this proceeding, I want to quick remind you, if you could silence your cell phones, that would be great. We have a lot to get to, and we want to get to it in as expedient manner as possible. We are here today for a great announcement, and that's our latest global partnership, the Golden State Warriors with Rakuten, Japan's leading internet shopping mall.
The Warrior brand is growing every year. When we travel with the Warriors, we see Warrior fans all over this country and indeed all over the world, and this is another partnership that will continue to add to the Warriors' presence internationally, and we're very, very excited about it.
As you saw on the news this morning, the Warriors and Rakuten announcing a multiyear partnership to announce the Rakuten logo on all Warrior jerseys beginning this year, on all their jerseys, of course whether it be practice, regular season, postseason, and Summer League. As you know, the NBA changed this year and they approved the sale of jersey sponsorships, and the Warriors in this case now will have a Rakuten badge, which will be on the front left of the jersey, measure approximately two and a half by two and a half inches, and will be adjusted to fit the dimensions of every sponsor's logo in the future. And now the Warriors, when you see them this year on the hardwood, as they take off their shooting shirts and get ready for the opening tip, you'll see three great international brands right up front: The Warriors' logo, Rakuten, and Nike, a very exciting time indeed.
Now, the partnership also includes some other elements, including this facility where you are sitting here right now, and that's now going to be named the Rakuten Performance Center. So every time the Warriors come in here to work out, they get their shots up for practice, they're going to be in the Rakuten Performance Center. Now, the partnership also has other categories which we'll get into later, and I also want to tell you that it expands throughout the Rakuten brands, including Viber, of which I think I was ahead of the curve, I was on Viber a lot earlier than everybody else, so I've been on there for about a year now, Ebates and their Kobo e-readers, as well, so it's certainly, again, an across-the-board type of partnership that we have here today.
I'm going to introduce everybody up here on the dais to get you familiarized with them. A lot of them you don't need introductions with, but to my left, Warriors' owner Peter Guber; to his left, Warriors chief marketing officer, Chip Bowers; and a pleasant welcome to the Bay Area to Hiroshi Mikitani, the Rakuten chairman of the board, president, chief executive officer and representative director; and then of course you have next to him, All-Star reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Draymond Green; and to Draymond's left we have the 2015 Finals Most Valuable Player and back with the Warriors again, Andre Iguodala; and of course right down at the end, all the way down to my left, Bob Myers, the Warriors' president of basketball operations and general manager.
Now, from up here, we want to thank everybody who is watching of course in the Bay Area on NBC Sports Bay Area, listening on your flagship for the radio broadcast 95.7 The Game Dubs radio, livestreamed on Warriors.com. We want to thank those who are watching in Japan as this press conference is being livestreamed to them, as well. It truly is, as I mentioned, a very, very exciting day.
Let's find out more about this partnership right now. We've prepared a little video for you to view.
To talk more about this partnership of Golden State Warriors and Rakuten I welcome, of course, to my left Warriors owner Peter Guber.
PETER GUBER: Good morning. I scratched a few notes in the car coming over the bridge this morning, and suddenly I heard a newscast to speak of this event, a proposed transaction between two seemingly disparate companies. Yes, it was a financial reporter, and he was detailing a transaction. They have the accent in the wrong syllable. This is not a transaction, this is a relationship. This is about relationship capital between three powerful brands: The Golden State Warriors, Rakuten, and the NBA. It doesn't aim for the wallets of our audience, and we call them audiences, not customers, because when you call them customers, they protect their groin and their wallet. When you call them audiences, you're aiming for their heart, and that's what hits everyone.
It doesn't aim for the wallet. It looks at global audiences in all three groups as symmetric, together. The NBA is a global game. It's admired and followed worldwide. The sport is played everywhere. I was in Tibet, and laying in my bed in Tibet I was watching a Warriors' game at 4:00 in the morning. I was in New Guinea this past year, and I saw a field, no court, just a field, hard ground, no shoes on the players, a wooden kind of backboard and just a rim, and there were 40 people all trying to play the game. It's played and admired worldwide.
At the end of this month, the Warriors are off to Asia for the third, fourth, fifth time in the last 10, 12 years, a commitment to the marketplace. California is a global country. It's a Pacific Rim country. It's got 44 million people. It's the sixth largest economy in the world, so having these brands aligned here speaks to the world audience.
More than 25 percent of the league's players are international. That's 114 of them from 41 countries, so the players -- and that's going to grow. Just do the math. 320 million people in the United States, 7 and a half billion people in the rest of the world, so you get 2 percent more players, you've got a lot of international players as the game is played and watched more on all the different media streamed and everything around the world.
And this relationship speaks to all three brands, all of whom are terrifically aligned. They're all talked-to audiences. They're all looking at human engagement. They're looking at activation. They're looking for emotional transportation. Why? They want the messages -- Rakuten wants its messages and content and information bonded with emotion, so that information becomes resonant, memorable and actionable, and more important, is played forward by all the people in these global audiences to other people. It's the perfect alignment.
We're all three in that business, but we all deliver the content differently. We depend upon audience engagement at the highest level, and you think about the NBA, the fans, the audience owns the team. We are just stewards. They own the team. They make the audience. They make the drama. They make the story, and the same with his folks. They are audiences, too. He's in the engagement business. He's in the emotional transportation business. So what better way to bond these brands? The bond is the key. The relationship capital is the key that these things promise.
So when Rick and Chip and Joe embrace not just the logo of Rakuten and the NBA and the Warriors but its location on the players who make all the difference, next to their heart, next to these brands, they're saying something. They're saying we believe. We believe in the value of that proposition. We believe it's valuable to our fans, our audiences worldwide, and we think that they will get the resonance of it. So watch out, the best is yet to come.
TIM ROYE: Thank you, Peter.
Let's hear more about this partnership from the Warriors' chief marketing officer, and that is Chip Bowers.
CHIP BOWERS: Thank you, Tim. Exciting day for the Golden State Warriors organization, our fan base, our community, certainly all of our partners to be able to welcome a well-respected global brand like Rakuten to our family. When we set out on this journey a little less than a year ago, we were very cognizant of the responsibility that we had as an organization to have the right type of brand aligned with not just our players but our fan base and our community, and we thought the location of what we're going to refer to as the badge, we think a badge represents honor and something to be proud of, not a patch, not something that's covering up or trying to fix an issue. We don't feel like we have any issues right now, and we felt it was important that we have a badge that represented not only the type of ideals and principles that we believe in but someone that authentically could share that message and story with us. But ultimately resides over the heart, and that's what this is all about. We're all in the people business, and for us to be able to align with a great group of people I think is what makes this a game-changing partnership.
We treat our partners as family, and from the very beginning when Mr. Mikitani, Mickey, was kind enough to travel overseas to meet with us in our very first meeting, he sent a very loud and clear message. He was here to mean business; he was here to tell us how much this meant to him, how personal a decision this was not only for him but the entire Rakuten organization and the family of brands, Viber, Ebates, Kobo, the like, all of which will be tied to this partnership in one manner or another. It all has to resonate and really mean something to each and every person that touches not just the jersey but the partnership in different areas and different mediums.
We're very excited to welcome Rakuten to our family. It's a big day for us organizationally. We feel like we have a responsibility on the NBA to set a path forward in terms of how diligent people should be in crafting these type of partnerships. The activation that we're going to be doing together is something that we're extremely proud of, and today is a big day to be able to tip that off, and so with that, I'm proud to be able to introduce our new friend and member of our family, Hiroshi Mikitani, better known as Mickey. Thank you.
HIROSHI "MICKEY" MIKITANI: Thank you. Thank you for a wonderful introduction. My name is Hiroshi Mikitani. I'm the founder and CEO of Rakuten, and it is our greatest honor and pleasure to be able to announce this great partnership among the Golden State Warriors, National Basketball Association, and Rakuten. Especially as a huge sports and basketball fan, personally I am very thrilled to become the partner of the Warriors, which is a very special basketball team, and build a very special relationship with the greatest sports association in the world, NBA. As you may know, Rakuten has been very active in sports. In Japan we have Vissel Kobe, a soccer team; professional baseball team Rakuten Eagles; and main sponsor of ATP 500 tournament, Rakuten Japan Open.
This year Rakuten became innovation and entertainment partner of FC Barcelona. Our intent is not only become uniform sponsor to enhance our brand awareness but also to help promoting FCB presence globally, utilizing our global presence, expertise and skills.
I started off in 1997 in Japan, and now Rakuten has become one of the top internet service companies in the world. We have 96 million members out of 125 million Japanese people. We are the largest e-commerce company, the biggest online traffic agent, biggest credit card company, biggest online bank, et cetera. From 2010, Rakuten started to globalize aggressively, including changing internet communication language from Japanese to English.
Now, in the U.S., Ebates is the largest cash-back site. We will do approximately $10 billion of transactions. Kobo is the second largest global e-book business in the world. Overdrive is the largest e-book service for libraries in the United States. And Viber is one of the biggest global messaging apps in the world. We are enhancing our marketplace business globally. Altogether we have about 1.1 billion registered members globally.
After the announcement of our FCB deal, we have already initiated strong integration brand project. Already most of the brands are rebranded to Rakuten brands, but with this announcement with the Warriors, we would like to facilitate our brand integration initiatives, including Ebates rebranding to Rakuten brand. Rakuten means optimism in Japanese, and we believe in the future.
Together with the Warriors and NBA, we would like to make sure we build a bright future and contribute more to the society. Again, thank you very much again for giving us this great opportunity. Go Warriors.
TIM ROYE: Well done, Mickey. Well done. I want to bring Bob Myers down at the far end to talk for a second. You heard Peter give the number of players who are international. You've been on both sides, an agent and now a GM. How do you see the international growth of the NBA as it is now and where do you think it's going?
BOB MYERS: Well, we've seen it grow, Tim, being around the NBA for anybody that's been doing it for a little while, it used to be kind of a rarity to have one international player, and now it's a rarity to not have more than one on your own team.
In an interesting way, basketball has been able to connect continents, connect countries. We've got players on our team from all over the world, and for us that grew up here in the United States, it's a real treasure and oftentimes humbling to interact with people that grew up in a completely different environment than we did but share the same love for a game that you really only need a leather ball, maybe rubber, and an iron hoop and some kind of backboard to play, and that's what I love about basketball. Like Peter said, you don't even need shoes. I know these guys -- shoes make you play better, but you don't need them. And that's what I love about the game. It's a simple thing, but it connects all of us, and it's exciting.
And for me, basketball has taken me all over the world, and I hope it can take us to Japan at some point, and it's exciting to know that we've got a partner in Japan and that some young boys and girls are going to maybe watch our team because of this exciting new partnership with Rakuten, and maybe we get some new Warriors' fans in Japan, and that's what's exciting for me.
Tim, it's only getting more international. It's not going to become less, and in the future who knows what's to come, but this game is an international one, and that's exciting for all of us that are involved in it.
TIM ROYE: There's a couple words there I want to get back to; you used the word "connection" and also the word "rarity," and you were involved in something else this summer that it was rare you see a championship team being able to stay together in today's modern age in sports, and I think in part because there is a connection in that locker room with this team. What was this summer like for you and what does it mean to have the key players back for the Golden State Warriors?
BOB MYERS: Well, Tim, not having played in the NBA, the players are the ones that are responsible for pretty much all this, to be honest, why we're sitting up here, why these trophies are here, and when they win, which is all we're trying to do is just trying to win championships, they deserve to move forward together. They've earned that right. Although Andre was somewhat difficult in the process (laughter) -- no, you know what? When you win together, the one thing -- you go through your life, and you accomplish things and you create memories, and things come and go. But I'll tell you what; championships, it's rare for us to remember something for the duration of our life. We will never forget the ones that were a part of the first championship, the ones that are part of this recent one. You can all run into Andre or Draymond 20, 50 years from now, and it won't even be -- we won't even have to say anything to each other, you just look at each other and you know what you've been through. And so when you have a group that has been able to climb that mountain together, what you want to do is give them another chance to do it again because you know how good that feels, and certainly they earned it. Representing our organization in ownership, we're thrilled to see what's in store for us this year.
TIM ROYE: You pointed out something. I am remiss in my job here. I forgot to introduce the guy to your left. That's Larry, the Larry O'Brien Trophy there for the Golden State Warriors' championship.
But it's time now; we want to take a look at that jersey with the Rakuten badge on it, so I'm going to ask our two players, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green, to stand up and show us the 2017-2018 Warriors jerseys with the Rakuten badge.
A little cameo by Klay there, nice. So Draymond, I wanted to ask you a question. You're now wearing a jersey that has three international brands on it. I know you've traveled overseas and spent time with fans of the NBA and fans of the Warriors; what does it mean to you to have a jersey like that now?
DRAYMOND GREEN: It's special. You know, for all these years, if you paid attention to overseas basketball, or football as they call it, you always saw sponsors on the jersey, and it was never a thing in the NBA, and I think as we continue, as everyone spoke on, to grow the game globally, that's big, and I think when you look at this situation, a lot of teams on the NBA picked up a sponsor, and it just shows where the mindset is of this organization with Peter and Joe and Chip and Bob and Rick Welts, and going to partner with someone like Rakuten. I think it was very simple to partner with anyone in the United States, but when you start thinking global, with my trip overseas this summer, and really just seeing how big not only basketball but the NBA is over there, I mean, it's incredible.
So I think this is a great opportunity for both the Warriors, the NBA -- all three, the Warriors, the NBA and Rakuten, to establish this relationship, and you know, continue to grow this game globally. I've never been to Japan. I look forward to it, but like I said, as I've traveled overseas and just saw the love for the game, I think this is a really special thing, and looking forward to watching it grow.
TIM ROYE: You mentioned football. You had a chance to spend time with Rakuten's other unbelievable partner in FC Barcelona. What was that like?
DRAYMOND GREEN: It was incredible. Barcelona is an amazing city. I got an opportunity to go by their practice facility, which is incredible, and also got a chance to go down to El Clasico Miami this summer and take part in that, and it was special.
Just watching how Rakuten has been able to establish themselves in the partnership, in the relationship with two of the biggest sports franchises in the world is special. It says a lot about their company, and it's a young company. When you're talking '97, I think I'm still pretty young. I was seven years old, though. No, it's a very young company, but with the rate that they're growing, I think there's so many parallels with their brand and our brand, which is what I think makes this partnership special.
When you look at the rate at the Warriors have grown and the rate that their brand has grown to become one of the world's best, it's special, and I think that's what makes this partnership so great.
TIM ROYE: Andre, let me ask you about the jersey. What do you think?
ANDRE IGUODALA: It's pretty good. I like what Chip said about it's not a patch, it's a badge. You have a badge of honor. And as Bob spoke on partnerships, there's a parallel, as well, with Rakuten and their partnership with the Warriors, just as my partnership with the Warriors has been this summer. There's a premium on great brands coming together. (Laughter.) So excited about it.
TIM ROYE: This is what you have to deal with?
BOB MYERS: This is what I was dealing with, that type of comments.
TIM ROYE: Andre, it has to excite you in the sense that you hosted the players' technology summit and you know you're always looking to the future, and this is a company, Rakuten, that's been constantly looking to the future.
ANDRE IGUODALA: Yeah, well, there's a lot that was talked about in our tech summit about e-commerce and owning your own content with players and building a community, and I think Rakuten stands for all those things, being one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world, and you speak about knowledge, too, which is what we're trying to teach, and you talk about the e-books and the e-readers and their services with that, as well, and their community. Mickey said 1.1 billion subscribers, that's a huge community that's only going to continue to grow, and that's a lot of data. That's worth a lot, placing a premium on a lot of things.
TIM ROYE: Let's get a couple basketball questions before I let you go. Draymond, last year you won Defensive Player of the Year and I know it's an award you wanted and to me it's the most unselfish award you can get because if you're defensive Player of the Year you're going to make your team better. What was it like going through last year and being able to not only do that but obviously reclaim the crown?
DRAYMOND GREEN: I mean, it was a special year. Bob and I always talk about the difference in the mindset of when you're coming off a win as opposed to coming off a loss. Coming off the way we lost in 2016, up 3-1 and the rest of that jazz, and then to come back next year with one goal in mind and to accomplish it, I think when you look at life, there's so many times where you set a goal and either you never reach it or it takes so long to reach, and for this group to come together and say, hey, we're coming together for one thing, and that was it the entire year, you know, it was a special thing. I was excited to be a part of it.
You know, the focus level that I saw in our team let me know that that was really the only thing we wanted to do, and to accomplish that is special. You know, it's hard to win a championship, but then when you go to The Finals again and then you go again, it becomes even harder. Contrary to popular belief, it gets harder with each time.
And so it was special, a special year. Obviously Defensive Player of the Year was great, but to be quite honest with you, once we won the championship, it really didn't matter to me anymore. We had reached our goal as a team, which is always my No. 1 goal, and that was just kind of a little sprinkle on the cake. It wasn't even the icing. It was great.
TIM ROYE: Andre, now that we've once again reunited two of these premium brands on the basketball side, what type of year are you expecting?
ANDRE IGUODALA: I expect it to be a very mental year. That means a lot of growth. Like Draymond said, contrary to popular belief, it's very hard to go to The Finals just one time, and we've been three years in a row. We've defended the championship once, and we didn't reach that goal. So that's going to be in the back of our minds, how do we be very strategic on how we go about the season, the schedule, although the NBA has done a great job not giving us a crazy schedule this year. But really looking forward to that, bringing everyone back.
A lot of teams made a lot of moves to try to disrupt what we're trying to do, so we're very aware of that, and we're very excited to start the season in a week and a half.
TIM ROYE: Right now we're going to open it up for questions from the media and the audience. We have people with microphones, so please raise your hand, identify yourself and where you are from, and we will get to this part of the program.
Q. Bob, you mentioned briefly about possibly playing in Japan with this partnership. How realistic could that be preseason or beyond do you think?
BOB MYERS: You know what, we've loved going overseas. We're going in about three weeks, and I think our philosophy, and shared by ownership and even our players, is we're always open to new things, and we've done China, I think, three times, and Japan is going to have the Olympics. It would be wonderful to experience that country and represent our country over there with the Warriors' brand. When it'll happen, I don't know, but these type of partnerships that Mickey and his organization Rakuten and the Warriors have formed only embolden the pursuit of getting to a country like Japan, and I'm sure it would be a great experience for us. I've been fortunate enough to have been there, and you don't forget. It's a memorable place, and the people are some of the best people you'll ever meet, the Japanese culture, the Japanese people. I'd love for it to happen. I don't know when, but on the horizon.
Q. Chip, how did this thing get started? Did you reach out to Rakuten? Did Rakuten reach out to you?
CHIP BOWERS: Yeah, we were very diligent throughout. We did not go to market and talk to a lot of people about the opportunity. As I mentioned before, it was really important to us to find the right partner, not find a partner, and so we talked to just a handful of people honestly about the opportunity, and it actually came down to three finalists. We had more than one opportunity, but we were actually doing some outreach through a mutual friend that's a client of ours through Amit Patel and the team at Ebates expressing interest and understanding where we are in the process. We immediately took the meeting, knowing that Mickey was going to be in town. As I mentioned before, Mickey came to the very first meeting. We hit it off. It's all about having shared principles and shared ideals and a vision for what it takes.
In any business, you should be aligned with really smart people and really smart brands that can help you elevate your story, and that was obvious to us that on the global scales we've talked about frequently here on the podium, it was important that we worked with a global brand.
We really liked the fact that they had a local presence, so it's a global brand out of Tokyo, Japan, but to have Ebates headquartered here, to have Rakuten have offices here, it had a local feel to it, but it gave us a global audience to speak to. That was very much a part of our discussions from the outset. We hit it off as people, as much as we did as brands, and I think that was paramount in the success of this negotiation.
Negotiations are hard, especially when you're talking about multi-year partnerships, but in this case it really wasn't. We had aligned interested with really smart people that got the big picture, and so for us, it seemed very much like a natural fit.
Q. This is a question asking about the relationship with FC Barcelona and Warriors and how that is going to play out in Japan and whether we will see the Warriors playing in Japan.
HIROSHI "MICKEY" MIKITANI: Well, the second question is a little easier to answer. I wish it's going to happen in the very near future. I think it depends on the relationship and other executives of the Warriors as well as NBA. But I think the last time the NBA played in Japan was a long, long time ago.
TIM ROYE: I think the Seattle Supersonics and the LA Clippers opened the season there.
HIROSHI "MICKEY" MIKITANI: Yes, and since then there's no NBA game in Japan. Of course we are the third largest economy in the world, and we found out recently that there are more younger students playing basketball than playing soccer in Japan. So I think it's going to be huge. I hope it will happen in the near future.
As for our business, of course now we are an e-commerce company. Not only Warriors, we are thinking about promoting the NBA goods, uniforms, jerseys and other goods through a setting online as well as thinking about getting into the sort of streaming business of NBA games.
Q. Bob, with this sponsorship deal, where do you see this going into play when you're managing the cap and luxury tax implications moving forward?
BOB MYERS: Look, we run a business. Financial revenue, expenses, it's all part of it, so the better we do, and luckily for myself, who's charged with building the team and the people I work with in the front office, our ownership has been unbelievably supportive in providing the resources to build a team, to go into the luxury tax for a team like us to compete for these golden trophies up here, and the better the player, the more they cost to be honest. And they deserve it, by the way, and so we want to give it to them.
Like I said, the more revenue for the league, the more revenue for the players, and the thing that's exciting about a partnership like this is the whole NBA benefits. The players benefit, the ownership benefits. So it's exciting.
And although I don't look at it as far as helping us build our team, indirectly it does. Resources that are put into our revenue stream, luckily, like I said, our ownership just kind of pushes them back in the direction of the front office and says, build the best team you can, and we're allowed to do that. The nice thing about working for these owners, Joe and Peter, is it's never a question of -- what is the most important thing, and that for us is winning. It's never been about making a profit. It's been about trying to win championships, and for someone like me in my position, that's the greatest gift you can have is go try and win, what do you need to go do that. But certainly partnerships like this do help, and hopefully we can do as many as we can.
Q. Mickey, I know you've aligned and partnered with your teams in Japan and now you're reaching out globally with the Golden State Warriors, obviously, but just a couple of months ago FC Barcelona, as you mentioned, and I know it's maybe a bit premature, but what kind of results or returns have you seen for your company, Rakuten, with FC Barcelona, that alignment?
HIROSHI "MICKEY" MIKITANI: Well, obviously we have been seeing massive improvement of brand awareness, not only awareness but I think it means more than just awareness for us, aligning our brand to the great sports association such as FCB or Warriors means a lot, and people are not only aware of our brand but they are very intrigued about what Rakuten is doing, but also now we are trying to rebrand all the services to the Rakuten brand, Rakuten Viber, Rakuten Ebates, Rakuten Kobo. But what we wanted to do, nobody knows about Rakuten, not so much in the United States especially, and of course football is rising up in the U.S., but basketball is more popular. So when we heard about this opportunity, I think it was kind of a no-brainer for us. It was the greatest opportunity for us, and I once again appreciate thank you very much.
TIM ROYE: Are you excited, Mickey?
HIROSHI "MICKEY" MIKITANI: Super excited.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports