40 Under 40 2018 | Garin Narain

Garin Narain keeps the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena names center court in the media. Originally hired to develop and lead communications strategy for the Hawks basketball operations team, Narain now serves as the primary media spokesperson for the organization and leads all communications efforts for the Hawks corporate and Philips Arena groups.

Narain pioneered the development of the NBA’s first team-run media services website, created exclusively for media who cover NBA, WNBA, or NBA G League on a regular basis. The site allows media to seamlessly request and access credentialing, parking, and other PR needs in one place. All 30 NBA teams now operate similar sites for media coordination.

He’s a proponent of redefining the role of sports communications to mirror the ever-changing industry of social media and the competitive environment for distributing news. While most NBA teams focus publicity efforts toward the game, players, and on-the-court initiatives, Narain created a corporate communications team to spearhead off-the-court initiatives and overarching branding. Now a five-person staff and one of the largest in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks branding team works across the entire organization, including Philips Arena, as the outward-facing PR team for off-the-court initiatives including corporate events, community activations, talent relations, sponsorship news, and promotional initiatives.

Most recently, Narain built the organization’s communications plan to announce the $192.5 million Philips Arena transformation, the second-largest renovation in NBA history. Working closely with representatives from Topgolf and music superstars Zac Brown and Killer Mike, the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena broke headlines on ESPN, CNN, SportsBusiness Journal, and the Atlanta Business Chronicle when it hosted a massive press event announcing separate partnerships within the transformed arena.

- Narain coordinated media for the NBA’s first Unity Game at Philips Arena when the Hawks hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers, collaborating with PR colleagues from Cleveland to produce vignettes featuring All-Star players from both teams who championed the need for diversity, acceptance, and unity among competitors.

- He serves on the national committee of 48in48, an organization that brings together volunteers from the local technology community to deliver $1.5 million of services to neighboring nonprofits.

- He mentors high school boys at Atlanta’s B.E.S.T. Academy, a rigorous single-gender educational environment.

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