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.