Lead Investors Revealed In Kings Bid

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Sacramento’s comeback attempt to keep the Kings reached an important stage Thursday as mayor Kevin Johnson announced business magnate Ron Burkle, the owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Mark Mastrov, founder of 24 Hour Fitness, will have leading roles in the push to convince the Board of Governors to deny the Seattle bid and keep the team in Northern California.

The Mastrov-Burkle pairing had been expected, just not in the specific roles Johnson outlined in his State of the City address. Instead of both buying into the Kings if Sacramento’s dream outcome turns into reality – the team stays but the current owners, the Maloof family, is gone – Mastrov was revealed as the majority investor while Burkle will take the lead on a new downtown arena. Given that the two deals are so closely related, though, Burkle, the wealthier of the two, could be part of the purchase of the club. Those specifics were not disclosed.

What is clear is that the plot just thickened. Not only does Sacramento now have a long-awaited counter-strike to go with the promise from commissioner David Stern that Johnson would pitch the Board of Governors, but another Maloof enemy is officially in the mix. The family may not have the same distaste for Burkle as for Johnson, but Burkle is pretty high up the list.

Johnson announced that Mastrov, who made a serious run at buying the Warriors before Joe Lacob and Peter Guber won the bidding, would submit his bid to the league office on Friday. The Board of Governors will meet April 18-19 in New York to decide the future of the franchise. If the sale to the Seattle group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer is approved, the Sacramento efforts are moot.

“We never give up, we never give in, we never say never,” Johnson told the crowd at his address. “That is who we are. So, with all due respect to Seattle, and I absolutely do wish them well, and I do hope they get a team some day… let me be perfectly clear. I said let me perfectly crystal clear. It is not going to be this team. Not our team. No way.”

The audience erupted in cheers and a chant of “Sac-ra-men-to!”

“We have done and will continue to do whatever it takes to keep our team in Sacramento,” the mayor said.

When Johnson announced Jan. 22 he had 19 investors at $1 million each, with another to follow, the former All-Star point guard said he hoped to reveal the big-money backing within about two weeks. The delay then turned into more than a month, with the additional update Thursday that former Kings star Mitch Richmond was one of the 20.

Putting himself on the clock was a tactical error that should have been easy to avoid, but KJ incurred no actual damage. Seattle had a strong deal — and pending litigation the NBA doesn’t consider much of a threat — and Sacramento needed to send a message to owners around the league that it was organized and could be counted on to deliver.

But once All-Star weekend came and went without an official response to the Seattle purchase agreement with the Maloofs, the missed opportunities started to count. Johnson was in Houston to press Sacramento’s case — lobbying the Board of Governors to vote against the attractive Seattle package has always been the biggest challenge for the mayor – except that he didn’t have anything to press with.

Minus an accompanying plan in hand, Johnson was basically telling league power brokers that Sacramento and the NBA have been good for each other. Everyone already knew that. KJ is a charismatic salesman with credibility in front of the Board of Governors. Everyone already knew that too.

League executives and owners left All-Star weekend unmoved by anything Johnson had to say, insiders report, or anywhere close to gauging Sacramento’s chances of an upset because they had not seen a proposal. That will change in the wake of Thursday’s announcement by the mayor and the expectation that the official notice will be delivered Friday.

24 Comments

  1. Roc says:

    what about Rochester? It was our team first

  2. Big D says:

    I think the Kings have a much better chance now that KJ announced the big boys involved. I mean, you have a billionaire wanting to take are of the arena and you have another wealthy whale wanting to purchase the team. Not to mention 30 others investing 1 million.

    The NBA always prefers to keep the team in town, but only if a viable counter offer is initiated. I think the NBA will be happy with what Sacramento has put together. In my own OPINION, there’s no way the NBA turns this down. They know what’s right for the city and what’s right for the fans.

    • Jay says:

      What about Seattle? They got screwed when the Sonics got moved to OKC. They should get a team too.

      • Big D says:

        Oh I agree that Seattle should and probably will get a team, but just not at Sacramento’s expense….

      • Big D says:

        Another thing, at least Seattle has the Mariners and the Seahawks, but if the Kings leave, the city of Sacramento has no professional teams, even though the fans have obviously shown that they can support one.

  3. Jay says:

    This isn’t soccer, this is the NBA. All you need is a D-league in order to develop young & new talent. I could see expanding the D-league so that each NBA team has a team to put players on it. But to run a soccer like upgrade & downgrade leagues is a bad idea.

  4. Jay says:

    I don’t think the NBA can afford to ignore either city. Keep the Kings in Sacramento & give Seattle an expansion team. Then pick another city like Kansas City or St. Louis to get the league to 32 teams.

  5. Jay says:

    I agree with Jason Page. This is a no-win situation. NBA owners hold hostage their cities & then threaten to move to other cities who want NBA teams. I worry about the Bucks moving because of a similar situation. They want a new arena but city officials can’t agree on how to pay for it. I think the losing city should get an expansion team, along with a new city to even out the league. To me that’s the only way to salvage this PR nightmare.

  6. Spaghetti says:

    Seriously, the national media isn’t giving the whole story. Everyone who doesn’t believe Sacramento has a legitimate chance either hasn’t been paying close attention to the situation, or just doesn’t understand what has actually been happening. This has been going on for years in Sac. Everyone will insist that I’m wrong and Sacramento has no chance, but most of you will be the first people to say that you knew Sac was gonna keep the Kings the whole time. Everyone think what you want but those of us that have been closely following both sides of the story know what is truly going on and understand it’s not over yet. Seattle deserves a team but the way some of their fans are acting is ridiculous. I’m sorry if you don’t want to accept all the facts, that’s not my problem. But if you don’t know all the facts you have no right to tell others that they are wrong, in my opinion anyway. It’s gonna be a tough decision for the owners and no matter what happens it will be a PR mess.

    • Jason Page says:

      True statement! There is no right decision, except teams should not be moved around at the fans expense!

  7. Jason Page says:

    I thought I heard they have been sold ?

  8. iSHAQ or SHAQTOLOGY says:

    Very Well said TIM…
    it is Very Brilliant Idea…

    hope VANCOUVER TEAM will be back too….

    NEW ORLEANS PELICANS…
    CHARLOTTE HORNETS will be used.

  9. Heffmanhere says:

    The Kings have already been sold. Sacramento fans, I feel your pain, I’ve had my team taken from us 12 years ago and it’s beyond painful. I lived it and I hated every moment. But the truth of this matter is that the Kings have already been sold. The NBA owners will now vote to ratify the sale in April and the team will play in Seattle next season.

    No owner in their right mind will turn this offer from Hansen et al down. To do so would be akin to cutting their own throat. NBA owners have the right to sell to whomever they please. The minute anyone limits who you can or cannot sell to, the price you can get on the sale, diminishes. NBA owners are nothing if not greedy. Franchise owners want the top dollar they can get for their teams. I

    If current NBA owners were to say no to this sale to the Seattle group, they’d essentially be voting against their own respective freedom to sell to whoever they please at a future date when it’s time to sell their franchise. Not going to happen.

    Sacramento’s late valiant effort will only help the spin that emerges once the owners meet to ratify the Kings sale to Hansen’s group. The NBA owners will say that ‘it was a difficult choice, two nice options, bla bla bla but in the end Seattle won out this time.’

    If the Seattle group walked away tomorrow, the Maloof’s would then be able to sell to whoever they please or keep the team if they wanted. This isn’t a case of a Sac bid vs a Seattle bid, it is a case of the Seattle bid being the only bid and whether it gets ratified or not. Sadly for Kings fans, and luckily for Sonic fans, the sale will be easily ratified next month.

    • Big D says:

      Sorry, but you have no clue about your facts. The Kings have NOT been sold…The NBA specificially said that they will wait for a counter offer from KJ, which they now have…This isn’t about the owners anymore, it’s about what the NBA thinks. If the NBA likes Sacramento’s offer, then they will do the right thing…Just wait, you’ll see :)

      • Jason Page says:

        The GOB will approve the completed deal. Everything is in place, dates for games at Key Arena are be set for 2013/2014 season and improvements for temporary use starting to accomadate team until new stadium is completed. Kings fans are great and do not deserve this but it is all business at the end of the day.

  10. yoyosuites says:

    Kings fans have never felt so fond of Shaq.

  11. Tim says:

    I think it’s time the NBA adopt a relegation system like most international soccer leagues. This will ensure a good development system, allow for a competitive free agent/free market spending and give incentive for owners and cities to step up their game. Let the Kings move to Seattle but give Sac. a team in the 2nd division and build back up to the 1st division. I’ve researched the biggest markets with and without pro basketball and what cities historically had pro basketball with the most success, hence why I’ve named the lower leagues after these leagues. Also, it will be hard to put a team in Europe as Stern is mentioning, unless he does a whole league there, but we can expand more into Canada and Mexico. Here’s what I came up with:

    NBA – 30 teams, top 16 playoff, bottom 3 relegate

    Atlanta Hawks
    Boston Celtics
    Charlotte Bobcats
    Chicago Bulls
    Cleveland Cavaliers
    Dallas Mavericks
    Denver Nuggets
    Detroit Pistons
    Golden State Warriors
    Houston Rockets
    Indiana Pacers
    Los Angeles Clippers
    Los Angeles Lakers
    Memphis Grizzlies
    Miami Heat
    Milwaukee Bucks
    Minnesota Timberwolves
    Brooklyn Nets
    New Orleans Pelicans
    New York Knicks
    Orlando Magic
    Philadelphia 76ers
    Phoenix Suns
    Portland Trail Blazers
    Seattle SuperSonics
    San Antonio Spurs
    Oklahoma City Thunder
    Toronto Raptors
    Utah Jazz
    Washington Wizards

    ABA – 25 teams, top 3 elevate, bottom three relegate, top two championship game

    Albuquerque
    Anaheim
    Austin
    Baltimore
    New Jersey
    Cincinnati
    Columbus
    Hartford
    Honolulu
    Jacksonville
    Kansas City
    Las Vegas
    Mexico City
    Monterrey, MX
    Montreal
    Nashville
    Norfolk
    Sacramento Kings
    Pittsburgh
    San Diego
    San Francisco
    San Jose
    St. Louis
    Tampa
    Vancouver

    CBA – 25 teams, top 3 elevate, bottom three relegate, top two championship game

    Albany, NY
    Anchorage, AK
    Birmingham, AL
    Bismarck, ND
    Buffalo, NY
    Cedar Rapids or Waterloo, IA
    Charleston, SC
    Charleston, WV
    Des Moines, IA
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Hermosillo, MX
    Knoxville, TN
    Little Rock, AR
    Louisville, KY
    Mexicali, MX
    Omaha, NE
    Ontario, CN
    Ottawa, CN
    Providence, RI
    Quebec, CN
    Raliegh/Durham, NC
    Shreveport, LA
    Tulsa, OK
    West Palm Beach, FL

    USBL – 30 teams, top 3 elevate, top two championship game

    Bakersfield, CA
    Billings or Great Falls, MT
    Boise, ID
    Calgary or Edmonton, CN
    Casper, WY
    Chihuahua, MX
    Dover, DE
    El Paso, TX
    Eugene, OR
    Fresno, CA
    Ft. Worth, TX
    Gary, IN
    Halifax or Winnipeg, CN
    Harrisburg/Lebenon, PA
    Jackson, MS
    Lafayette, LA
    Pensacola, FL
    Portland, ME
    Quad City (Davenport), IA
    Rapid City, SD
    Reno, NV
    Richmond, VA
    Rio Grande Valley (McAllen/Harlingen/S.Padre) TX
    Savannah, GA
    Scranton-Wilkes Barre, PA
    Sioux Falls, SD
    Spokane or Yakima, WA
    Syracuse, NY
    Tucson, AZ
    Wichita, KS
    Xalapa, MX

    • Tim says:

      Reward for the top 3 teams moving up from the 2nd division would be the top 3 picks in draft. Winner of that 2nd division championship game (or series) would be #1 pick. Rest of the draft would be just for top level (NBA) as normal. Undrafted players could sign with a NBA team and allocated or loaned to a lower level team, as it is in place right now.

    • RJ says:

      I know San Jose would be feircely supportive of a team. They love the sharks here, and we ain’t even have snow or white people.

      • RJ says:

        I like this idea, but is this economically sustainable? Are we in North America as a whole as basketball crazy as parts ot the world are soccer crazy? I don’t think it could be supported. I would say i believe it’s more likely that a system of leagues like this would work for baseball or football better, even as much as i hold basketball over either of those sports. Basketball just doesn’t hold the same amount of the sports market as soccer does elsewhere. If everyone in the states loved basketball as much as us, perhaps…

    • Spaghetti says:

      I like the idea but it is incredibly stupid to move the Kings if you’re just gonna give Sac a new team. Just keep the Kings in Sac and give Seattle another team. Too expensive to move a team just to create another team and move them in. Doesn’t make sense. But I absolutely love the idea of different leagues.

  12. Big D says:

    Go KJ!!!! In MY opinion, there’s no way the NBA turns out KJ’s offer…The NBA even said that if the Kings came up with a strong counter offer, they would look at it, and since the team is alreay here in Sacramento, the NBA will take that strongly into consideration. It’s also nice to have a billionaire heading the arena project…. Yesterday was an incredible day for Sacramento. Now we just have to iron our the details, and show the the NBA what we’ve got..

    I too hope that Seattle gets a team someday, and I strongly believe it will, even if it’s an expansion team , but it won’t be Sacramento :)

  13. Kings#4 says:

    We are going to keep the Kings in Sactown!

  14. Petrus says:

    i hope they keep the kings in sacramento, they have great fans and like they say, they never give up of their kings