KeyBank’s Gonzalez learned about Indianapolis through basketball

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Juan Gonzalez, KeyBank’s central Indiana market president, said All-Star Weekend will be about more than just basketball. (IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

Juan Gonzalez grew up in soccer-mad Colombia, but basketball drew him to Indianapolis, where he has become one of the city’s leading bank executives.

Gonzalez is Cleveland-based KeyBank’s market president for central Indiana and its business banking sales leader in the state.

During the 1980s and 1990s, NBA games featuring stars such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan were broadcast in the South American country.

“We knew about all of them, and then the NBA championship we would always watch live on TV, of course,” Gonzalez said. “You hear the stories about sports transcending barriers and frontiers, and all of that is so true.”

He chose to attend graduate school at Butler University in part because he knew Indianapolis through the Indianapolis 500 and the Indiana Pacers. Once at Butler, his love for basketball grew as he attended games at Hinkle Fieldhouse, the arena built in 1928 that was featured in the movie “Hoosiers.”

“When I came here to do my master’s, I had an idea of the city through watching the games,” he said.

Gonzalez now has more than 20 years of experience in the banking and financial industry. He is serving on the board of the NBA All-Star 2024 Host Committee and as co-chair on the event’s operations committee.

He said he wanted to be involved for three reasons: He loves the game of basketball, the All-Star Weekend’s community impact is important, and the event will be about more than just basketball.

“They’re truly working on making sure that there is a lot of culture, a lot of diversity-and-inclusion initiatives within the three days, including exposing a lot of local artists to the world,” Gonzalez said.

He said the city’s and region’s experience hosting the entire 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 2021 helped show the NBA that it was wise to have chosen Indianapolis to host the NBA All-Star Game.

“I think it proved to the NBA that we could do more,” Gonzalez said. “That’s a big testament of how much they value and trust not just the Pacers, but this community, to pull it together.”•

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