Matina Kolokotronis was on maternity leave from a local law firm when she got the phone call that changed her career. The caller said: “Hello, this is Geoff Petrie with the Sacramento Kings. I understand that you’re Greek and that you’re a lawyer. We just drafted a Greek player by the name of Peja Stojakovic, and we need some help with his contract.”
That was 1996. It would take two years to bring Stojakovic stateside to play in the NBA, but in the meantime the Kings signed Turkish player Hedo Turkoglu, and Kolokotronis’ legal and cultural skills came into play.
“About the same time I was developing a working relationship with Geoff (president of Kings basketball operations), the Maloof family purchased the Kings,” Kolokotronis says. “Right away I hit it off with Joe and Gavin Maloof.”
As her knowledge of sports law increased and her young family matured, Kolokotronis became more involved in the business operations of the Kings.
“The thing about sports though, it does really age you,” she says. “When I first started working with the Kings I was the same age as some of the players. Today, I’m old enough to be their mother.”
This past March she got yet another fateful call. This time it was from Joe, asking her to accept the position of president of business operations. Her marching orders were to put “cheeks back in the seats” at ARCO Arena.
“It has been a whirlwind ride ever since,” she says.
Building on an exciting young foundation of Tyreke Evans and first-round draft pick DeMarcus Cousins, Kolokotronis has launched a multipronged media and public relations campaign that is already showing positive results. As of mid-October, the Kings had sold more season ticket packages than in all of last season. She credits this success with offering numerous pricing options to economically stressed fans and simply making the community more aware of the Kings.
“For a variety of reasons — competitive and economic — the team’s positive impact on the community has waned the past couple of years. It is my goal to fill that building up with rabid Kings fans. I want to bring back those days when ARCO was the loudest arena in the league.”
• Occupation: Kolokotronis, 46, became president of business operations for the Sacramento Kings in March. She previously served as the team’s contract and negotiation attorney. She also managed The Maloofs and You! Foundation and was involved in community and public relations activities. She received her degree in English and literature from Loyola University Chicago and her law degree from McGeorge School of Law.
• Personal: She and her husband, local developer Sotiris Kolokotronis, live in the Wilhaggin neighborhood of Arden-Arcade along with their three children: Constantine, Marisa and Nichol. Matina first met Sotiris at the age of 14 while visiting cousins in Tripoli, Greece. Over the years the two stayed in touch. Sotiris came to the states to attend UC Berkeley, and the two met up in Chicago to attend a family wedding. “We went on a date, and six months later we were married,” she says.
• Lunch: At L Wine Lounge Urban Kitchen, Kolokotronis dines on the BLTA, a sandwich with heirloom tomatoes and avocado served with homemade salt and vinegar chips. The entrée is accompanied by a glass of Freemark Abbey 2008 Napa Valley Chardonnay.
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