Sacramento Wins The Future


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The thousands of fans who stayed long past the final buzzer a couple weeks ago for the last game – of the season – at Sleep Train Arena for the no-host after-party?

Just stretching their legs.

Dave Weiglein, the Sacramento radio personality known as Carmichael Dave because he is from Carmichael, Calif., touring the country in an RV to generate attention of Kings fans trying to keep the team?

A Sunday drive.

The chanting and the singing and the screaming themselves hoarse at the games and the airport to welcome mayor Kevin Johnson back from All-Star weekend and the pep rallies, many staged by Johnson under the guise of being announcements or press conferences?

Clearing their throats.

For genuine release, for the true emotion that define a fan base in good times and bad, there was Monday afternoon and the outpouring after the announcement that a committee had voted to deny the relocation bid by a group hoping to move the Kings to Seattle. That was truly something.

Except that was nothing. Wait until it moves from the Monday decision to recommend denying Seattle to a full vote of all 30 members of the Board of Governors, one from each team, and the decision becomes final. Wait until the 2013-14 opener at Sleep Train Arena, because now there will be one. Really, wait for the first shovel to go in the ground for the new downtown arena and then the unveiling of the House That KJ Built. Then we’ll be talking outpouring.

If the city and the Kings owners getting an arena deal last season after the Maloof family had tried to move the team to Anaheim was the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in NBA history, this was a moment beyond words.

Fellow owners never go against the wishes of one of their own wanting to sell, as long as the money checks out. Period. It just doesn’t happen. And yet it just did.

Owners would have to swallow very hard to give up a chance to be back in Seattle, a town with corporate backing of international proportions and the guaranteed payment of a relocation fee. And yet they just did.

There was no reason for the relocation committee to turn down what appeared to be a dream bid from Seattle – organized, proactive, backed by deep-pocket private investors and support from the city and county – except one. The opponent.

The 12 committee members did not vote against Seattle as much as it voted for Sacramento. Make no mistake. Seattle was the city on the ballot, but it was a referendum on Sacramento.

There was probably only one city that could roadblock Seattle, and that was Sacramento. There certainly was only one city that could beat Sacramento. Right – Seattle. The Chris Hansen-Steve Ballmer ownership group breezes to approval if no move is involved, just as Sacramento easily gives a Dikembe Mutombo-like finger wag to a poaching attempt by Anaheim, Las Vegas, or anyone.

This was Sacramento against Seattle all along. Lining up new owners as a fallback offer for the Maloof family was going to happen and getting a deal on arena financing was going to happen, but the real challenge for Johnson was convincing owners to turn down an offer from Seattle that checked all the boxes.

Still, Hansen said via a statement released early Tuesday morning via the SonicsArena.com website that Seattle will continue to fight for a team and will make a plea for the team at the NBA’s Board of Governors Meeting in mid-May:

While we are disappointed with the relocation committee’s recommendation, we just wanted to let you all know that we remain fully committed to seeing this transaction through. As you are all well aware, we have a binding transaction to purchase the Kings for what would be a record price for an NBA franchise, have one of the best ownership groups ever assembled to purchase a professional sports team in the US, have clearly demonstrated that we have a much more solid Arena plan, have offered a much higher price than the yet to be finalized Sacramento Group, and have placed all of the funds to close the transaction into escrow. As such, we plan to unequivocally state our case for both relocation and our plan to move forward with the transaction to the league and owners at the upcoming Board of Governor’s Meeting in Mid-May.

When we started this process everyone thought it was impossible. While this represents yet another obstacle to achieving our goal, I just wanted to reassure all of you that we have numerous options at our disposal and have absolutely no plans to give up. Imp

At Monday’s meeting, NBA owners did not back Sacramento in appreciation of what the city had meant to the league in past decades. Owners backed Sacramento because of what the city will mean.

Nobody casts a vote with this kind of Monopoly money at stake as thanks for 10 or 20 years ago. This was about the future. If the outcome Monday itself wasn’t energizing enough for local officials and fans, that kind of endorsement should do it. This is about where the league thinks the city is going, not where it has been.

By late in the afternoon, as word of the vote spread quickly via news outlets and social media, Grant Napear, the television voice of the Kings, was beginning his drive-time talk-radio show on CBS Sports 1140. The lines were, naturally, flooded.

There was no relief, though, at the narrowest of misses. It was more of a long celebration. It was a pep rally pretty much after the fact, unless some owners reverse field and change their Monday vote.

“Euphoria, with great satisfaction because everybody feels they have a hand in the team staying,” Napear said during a commercial break.

He had to go back on the air. He called back at the next break.

“It’s definitely a celebration,” said Napear, one of the driving forces behind keeping the city in a positive mood during the low moments. “Much, much more of a celebratory mood than relief. I think because the process lasted so long and was such an up-and-down roller-coaster.”

That was the start of the release, the first wave. The next will come if the full Board of Governors officially denies the Seattle bid. Then, the start of next season and beyond. Because this is about the future more than the past.

33 Comments

  1. John says:

    This was a vote against RELOCATION. There is nothing that says the Hanson-Balmer Group can’t buy the team….they just cant relocate it. If they want to back out because they can’t relocate the team…thats on them. If they still want to buy it, have at it!!

    • Gary Payton says:

      And they will buy it and not participate in any arena deal that is not on all the land Hansen has already purchased. They will not lie like Bennett did and will just wait and apply for relocation again and again… NBA TV contract is up in two years and it will be approved. Unless, EXPANSION, fast tracked! This is on the NBA and should not cost Sacramento, we want a team back! When something you love is STOLEN, you look to replace it if possible.

  2. Joe Rogers says:

    This goes out to all that have been with us through thick and thin. Thanks!!! GO KINGS~~~ Don’t worry Seattle you’ll get your team you soo well deserve soon enough!!
    Proud to say we did it all of us Sacramentans that convinced are neighbors we do love this team, that however bad they might be it was still worth it to go to a game. Comiss. Stern, Kenny Smith, CWebb,and even Shaq&Kobe… Thanks!!! Fans we can now appreciate our team our town our future a little more!!! This is only a tip of the ice berg Sac Town!!! Proud to live here and we well always bleed purple!!!!

    p.s MAJOR SHOUT OUT TO OUR #1 MAYOR KJ you’ll go down in my books as a champion here in Sacramento thanks for believing in us…..

  3. David Richter says:

    What I have yet to see one person mention is the fact that the owner who lied and took the original Sonics to Oklahoma, and incidentally still benefits every time someone buys a Sonics jersey, was the chairman of the committee that vetoed creating a new team and ending that bankroll for him. Maybe it’s just me but that sounds like a major conflict of interest and antitrust violation to me. I would have requested Clay Bennett not be on that committee if I was part of either cities team of lawyers. Being billionaires they should know that, but I can imagine a lawsuit will be coming soon based at least in part on this.

    • Gary Payton says:

      Bennett is not a billionaire, but first in line for all you can eat and last for morals!

  4. Gary Payton says:

    29 Maloof like owners!

  5. Maloofs! wonder if they can keep the $

  6. Brien says:

    If Chris Hansen ever wants to bring a NBA team to Seattle he needs to accept defeat and bow out gracefully. It serves no purpose to fight a recommendation the NBA is going to stand behind. At this point it is a PR matter and needs to be handled as such. Any resistance from the Maloofs to sell to Sacramento group or Hansen/Ballmer’s desire to fight will be viewed as defiant. The Maloofs should call Chris Hansen, apologize for not being able to get it done and return his deposit. This is the only way the Maloofs can save any shred of respect with the NBA and public.

    • Gary Payton says:

      He will own Kings team whether they move this year or in the next two years…

  7. "Never say Never" says:

    Silver will expand… there you have it in the video. Will Seattle fans please stop bashing Sacramento now.

  8. jim says:

    So this is how it is supposed to work ? Clay Bennet comes to Seattle lies thru his teeth about “wanting to keep the team in Seattle” and pulls a fast one out the back door (his plan all along). But a group from Seattle is honest and up front about
    what the plan is and gets screwed ? NICE

    • Bob says:

      This is a joke. The future or Sacramento? You gotta be kidding me. David Stern controlled this process. It was rigged. He held KJ’s hand. Period. Stern gives the middle finger to Seattle yet again.

      • Gary Payton says:

        Sactown group deal has so many holes in it, how are they about good business? The owners will vote and we will see? Maloof family is not going to except a lesser offer than Seattle’s, they are not even communicating with that group and where is the money KJ? Are they going force Hansen to sell the 7% he has?

    • Gary Payton says:

      I really wonder if the Sacramento group is going to unravel again in the next ten days? Where is the money and negotiations with the Maloof family at? I cannot wait to hear what current Kings owners think bout taking less money!

  9. Other Owners Have Wallet Envy says:

    This is about public funding and the other owners not wanting to set a precedent where the owners provide the majority of funds for a new arena. Hansen was going to foot the majority of the bill for the new arena. Now, Sacramento with its non-binding arena deal is going to foot the bill. Owners do not want other cities to use Hansen as an example of how the NBA can function without public funding. WALLET ENVY!

  10. don't take it personally says:

    This is about the Publics. Public fund s and the public support of funds. Public subsidies for Pro Sports are worth 30 Billion. Seattle and its outlying areas are fiscally conservative and do not believe in financing Pro Sports without certain profit. This is why the Hansen group would be paying for the arena in Seattle. Whereas in Sac,our democratically elected majority supports heavily funding the arena downtown. Why should a Pro Sports league turn its back on a 30 billion dollar patron for a 360 million dollar investor? How again would they ask mayors and council members to put their political necks on the line?

    Hansen may be worth 16 bil but he only offer 360 mil. The American Public has spent 30 Billion on Pro Sports.

    Sac supports publicly subsidized sports, Seattle does not. I think the decision is obvious, not personal

  11. So happy for Sacramento says:

    I have loved the Kings forever… THANK ALL

  12. EZap says:

    Congrats Sactown. I’m in Seattle and would very much like to have my team back. No hard feelings to Sacramento as a city or to its fans. However, I do hate Stern and his girlfriend Bennet just that much more today than I have for the last 6 years.
    I don’t have much of a positive prediction as to the Kings future, I don’t see anyone committed to spending the money to actually build a team and attract superstars. Chris Webber said that as he rode the plane to Sactown after being traded, that he thought he was being punished for something. Nope, mark my words, Sactown will be a losing team with a big empty arena. You’ll see.

  13. what if says:

    Not that the Seattle ownership group would want them, but what about the Bobcats? Charlotte is a small tv market, attendance is at the bottom of the league, and as the most recent expansion team, Charlotte does not have a long history in the community. Seattle was and is a very attractive place to have a team, why not the Bobcats?

  14. Sonics Fan says:

    This was not about Sac vs Sea. It was about Stern vs. Seattle. His ego is too big and he would not bring a team back to Seattle after he and Bennett conspired to move the Sonics team to OKC in 2008. Stern was bold enough to say that he would not move Sac (eventhough Seattle’s bid was the best ever seen and great for the league), because of the strong history of the team in Sacramento and the great fans. Seattle had a much longer history of 41 years and also an NBA Championship. Sac has been at the bottom in fan attendance in the last 4 years. He is such a hypocrite. We all know it was personal. Especially since he has repeatedly said that Seattle will not get an expansion team.
    Go Houston! Beat OKC!
    OKC will never win a championship as long as there are no Sonics. Karma.

  15. Johnny K. says:

    Sacramento’s future bright, minus one glaring flaw: it’s still Sacramento.

  16. z45rus says:

    Of cource owners will happily vote for Sac-town. They’d much rather have mediocre team forever in Sacramento as opponent as opposed to gritty and hungry franchise being rebuilt in Seattle.

    Too bad for real NBA fans.

  17. Tory Smith says:

    I’m A Proud Kings Fan & Knowing That They’re Staying Makes My Life Much Better, You Cant Possibly Take A Team With A Fan Base Of This Caliber. Things Are Really Looking Up For Sac-Town Now, Playoffs Here We Come!!!

  18. OzSonicsFan says:

    Congratulations to Sacramento and the fans.

    I am so happy you got to keep your team, even being a genuine Sonics fan. NO city or fans deserve to have their team taken away from them. Stern is a dog for allowing clay to take the Sonics, I’m glad he found some dignity and convinced (some) of the board to keep the Kings in Sacramento.

  19. MJfromOKC says:

    I doubt the league appreciated the shady nature of the Maloofs bid process, making the home team play catch up. I also don’t think the league or the owners like the fact that the Maloofs tried to make it the largest team sale in NBA history, this insults every NBA owner in an indirect way.

    Sacramento has met all the necessary criteria that put the Kings in jeopardy in the first place. Once a local legitimate solution was proposed the leagues desire to move the team fell flat.

  20. Cameron Meaney says:

    People do not realize just how popular the Kings are. I live in the small town of Dundas, Ontario, Canada and I am a HUGE Kings fan, and I always have been! It was the best news I’ve ever gotten that the Kings were staying home! #KingsNation #HereWeStay

  21. Rafael says:

    It’s been a very long battle, but it’s finally falling into Sacramento’s favor. If the board officially denies the Seattle bid and the Maloofs sell to Vivek, Mastrov, etc. the torture for the last 3 or 4 years will have been well worth it!

    I do hope Seattle gets a team, just not the Sacramento Kings.

    #HereWeStay

    • Scott_MKE says:

      Great for Sacramento, but as a Bucks fan, this worries me. Seattle seems to be loaded for bear (or deer) when it comes to getting an NBA team, and I just hope Milwaukee isn’t next on the list for Chris Hansen.

      The Bucks don’t have the greatest support from local fans, the Bradley Center is a dump, Herb Kohl is OLD with no family to take over the team (that I’m aware of), and the Bulls – the team for whom probably the majority of SE Wisconsin basketball fans root for – are a mere 90 miles away.

      I hope Milwaukee can come through with a new arena, but I’m not optimistic. Time to start sweating, Bucks fans; you’ve likely got a target on your backs.

  22. brooklyn says:

    Well done SAC-TOWN … NBA would not be the same without those crazy kings fans who still clang those cowbells even when they’re team aint playing so well ..ALL THE BEST :D

    • HEAT says:

      As I was saying before, there’s no point of moving a team back and forth. Seatle lost a team, now they’re fighting for a team. If they do get the Kings, the Sacramento loses a team, then later they will fight for a team and someone will lose a team. If theres so much demand for a team, then the NBA should create one or two more teams. It’s always good to expand the NBA

  23. Schnuppermeister says:

    Hell yeahhhhhh. #HereWeStay #FTM