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Seattle v. NBA: How the Sacramento Kings were won

Wednesday's move made it clear just what a shifty game the NBA and the Maloofs are playing with two desperate West Coast cities.
(L to R) Berit Anderson, Art Thiel and Susan Enfield at Civic Cocktail.

(L to R) Berit Anderson, Art Thiel and Susan Enfield at Civic Cocktail. Photo: LucienKnuteson.com

David Stern, commission of the National Basketball Association

David Stern, commission of the National Basketball Association Eric Richardson/Flickr

 

My guess is Sacramento longs for the old days, when real-life drama extended only as far as Gov. Schwarzenegger and his housekeeper. Couldn't understand that either, but at least the plot line was familiar.

This business of savings the NBA Kings . . . well, there's been nothing quite like it in sports. Even the effort to save the Sonics in 2008 was pedestrian compared to this net-free, high-wire act.Description: http://sportspressnw.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif

The latest is that the Maloof family – the owner of the Kings with a deal to sell the team to Seattle investor Chris Hansen – emerged from its self-imposed sarcophagus Wednesday to put a figurative gun to the heads of Mayor Kevin Johnson and his investor pals (whomever they may be at the moment). "Give us proof your offer is legit by 5 p.m. Friday, or we kill you dead."

At last that was the essence of a Wednesday report by the Sacramento Bee, citing an unnamed tipster. Whether the threat is a) true b) enforceable c) another sly, Machiavellian manipulation by the NBA, or d) the final word on the competition, is not clear. Johnson, as is his habit, is acting as mall security cop, telling people staring at the broken display window that there's nothing to see here. Please move along.

And by the way, the Kings are 27-50 and riding a four-game losing streak and the most-overvalued entertainment value since Milli Vanilli. But that's another column.

Let's hit the refresh button:

After hearing presentations by both sides April 3, the NBA is scheduled to vote on competing offers for the team April 19 at an owners meeting in New York. After the first meeting though, a weary-looking NBA commissioner, David Stern, said the issue was unprecedented, weighty and complicated, and because of that, the vote might be delayed.

Three weeks earlier, Stern publicly scolded the Sacramento effort, saying a "substantial variance" existed and if the offer didn't improve, "it would not even be considered." The Sactown wealthies apparently responded because, in answer to a question April 3, Stern said that the difference in value was no longer an issue.

But that was before lead investor Ron Burkle backed out Monday. Burkle cited a conflict of interest with his investment in an entertainment company, Relativity Media, which is also the fourth-largest athlete agency in the the U.S., representing more than 50 NBA players. NBA by-laws say a team owner can have no affliliation with players' agents or financial interests.

With Burkle suddenly out of franchise ownership as well as arena planning (even though his involvement with Relativity was public record and frequently newsworthy), Johnson introduced a new investor Tuesday: Real estate developer Mark Friedman, whose family apparently leads Sactown in tycoonery. Johnson claimed that Friedman had been wanting to get into ownership all along, and Burkle's abrupt departure was coincidence.

Right. And Mariners rookie pitcher Brandon Maurer meant to give up six runs in two innings Tuesday to the Houston Astros.

That brings us to Wednesday, and the Maloofs' sudden extortion play. Here's my guess: The NBA, already groaning after threatening Sactown once, told the Maloofs that, if they wanted the bloated franchise price, they would have to go get it themselves. The Maloofs said, "Yeah, we'd like to pistol-whip KJ and his pals."

People in Sacramento, who have followed the Kings saga for years, say that the Maloofs have hated Burkle ever since 2011. That’s when he stepped in uninvited and made an offer to buy the Kings, which gave Stern the leverage to stop the Maloofs' sale of the Kings to a group that would have moved the franchise to Anaheim. There is a strong belief that the Maloofs would never sell the team to anyone associated with Burkle. 

Now that he is out of the picture though, the Maloofs have insufficient personal animus to preclude a sale to Sacramento. Cash is now cash again.


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Comments:

Posted Thu, Apr 11, 9:01 a.m. Inappropriate

Seattle does not desire an NBA team. A few pathetic NBA fans in Seattle desire an NBA team.

NO city "needs" an NBA team, as Seattle has proven beyond a doubt the past few years.

Lincoln

Posted Thu, Apr 11, 8:40 p.m. Inappropriate

Agree with you, Lincoln. Devotees of corporate sports are so wrapped up in their fantasies that they really don't grasp that vast numbers of citizens are more concerned about other things...that is certainly true here in Seattle. P.S. I have lived her all my life and remember 1979 clearly...if the Sonics championship that year was a highlight of anyone's life except for team members and their families, then they must have pretty dreary lives.

TaylorB1

Posted Thu, Apr 11, 9:55 a.m. Inappropriate

Lincoln....you have NO idea what on earth you are talking about. I was here in 79 when the Sonics were world champs. I remember the entire city flooding the streets and chanting "We're number 1" well into the night. Never before and never again have I felt such a sense of community as I did that night when not only the city but the entire region came together to celebrate the NBA World Champion Seattle SuperSonics. The fact is professional sports teams are one of the things that binds the community together. Look at the 95 "Refuse to Lose" Mariners...or the 116 win 2001 version for that matter....they were all this city could talk about. Same with the Seahawks last year, or the 2005 Super Bowl team. Professional sports is the lifeblood of a city.

nortran11

Posted Sat, Apr 13, 2:06 p.m. Inappropriate

The need to exaggerate suggests a weak argument: "No entire city," let alone an entire region, turns out for anything short of a mega-disaster. Not even a free lunch would do it, not even the once free for all Gold Cup races, although counting all the TV viewers enticed by Bill O'mara's enthusiasm, it might have come close.

Sports—major, minor, collegiate, or sandlot—most likely did enrich the lifeblood of a city, that is the well-being of the majority of its residents—working stiffs— when their wages and ticket prices were more of a match. Today, working stiffs wisely cut the cost, but not the fun, by availing themselves of the food, drink, and big screen at third places or the abodes of friends. On that note, it seems more like third places and big screens have become the lifeblood of a city, rather than how much ultra-priced entertainment one city bids up and away from another.

I'd bet there are more around here still interested in sportsmanship then you'd think. At least give it a thought.

afreeman

Posted Thu, Apr 11, 10:03 a.m. Inappropriate

I hope it's clear to everybody that if and when we get an NBA team back in Seattle, we're going to be subjected to that kind of blackmail, too. David Stern will put the pressure on Chris Hansen to provide more money and better facilities, and Chris Hansen will get his friends on the city council to pony up to keep the Sonics in town. I don't understand how financially strained cities keep choosing to put money into entertainment when we can't afford to fix the streets.

DannyK

Posted Thu, Apr 11, 11:35 a.m. Inappropriate

DannyK;

Pays to keep up with the news; Stern is retiring February 1st, 2014.....but don't let that interrupt your speculation.

You may want to frame your story with the correct name....Adam Silver

:>)

Trifecta

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