Posts Tagged ‘Seattle’

Kings Start Off Season With Extraordinary Game



VIDEO: Kings open 2013-14 season with some flair

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Two thousand two hundred forty-eight.

Two thousand two hundred forty-eight previous regular season and playoff games in Sacramento Kings history, 1,161 at the original Arco Arena barn followed by Arco II/Power Balance Pavilion/Sleep Train Arena, and never has there been anything like the one played Wednesday night. No. 2,249.

And counting.

It was another game, except that it wasn’t. It was the opener of the season that wasn’t supposed to be, with 17,317 customers in the building representing the hundreds of thousands from the region who were not. This was a celebration of beating Seattle and beating the odds much more than beating the Nuggets 90-88 to start campaign No. 29 in California’s capital city.

The greatest comeback in NBA history complete by overcoming the strong bid to buy the Kings and move them to Washington state, a passionate fan base danced on the unused grave a lot of others built for them.  It had screamed its redemption before, when the Board of Governors denied the Seattle bid on May 15 and again when the unpopular Maloof family sold the team to a group headed by Vivek Ranadive, but that was different. That was the offseason. Wednesday night was the tangible: their team back on the court.

Jerry Reynolds, with the franchise ever since the move from Kansas City as a coach, executive and, now, television analyst, spoke for the masses when when he said, “It’s a new beginning. It really is. I really equate it to the first home game in the history of the Sacramento Kings. The excitement and the optimism looking forward and all that, and I think that’s exactly where we are 28 years later. New owners, new front office, new coaching staff, a change in players. And more importantly, it’s a new enthusiasm for our fans. I go to the grocery store and people want to the talk basketball with me, and it’s different. It goes back to, ‘Wow, we’ve got our team. It’s our team.’ ”

It was a basketball game, and so much more.

“Oh, yeah,” Reynolds said. “No question. It’ll be nice to get to where it is basketball moments, but right now, it’s just way more than that.”

Minority owner Shaquille O’Neal showed up and, obviously delirious while caught up in the moment, started talking playoffs and even the No. 6 spot in the Western Confetence. (He also said of some former teammates who actually did make the postseason and then some: “There’s a lot of guys on that Lakers team that couldn’t play. Couldn’t play at all.”) Mitch Richmond, the former Kings All-Star who also owns a small portion, was there. So was advisor Chris Mullin, the ex-Warriors great among the many Golden State connections in the new-look Kings. John Doleva, the president and CEO of the Hall of Fame, came from Massachusetts. Mayor Kevin Johnson, the biggest local hero, the mayor who made Season 29 possible, was of course in attendance.

Commissioner David Stern was too. He walked the purple carpet set up for the occasion outside one of the entrances, high-fived some fans and shook hands with others. He generally got a hero’s welcome after many years of being wrongly cast as a villain in the raging Sacramento inferiority complex that the NBA was out to get the small market. It was never close to true – the reality is the Kings would have been gone long ago if Stern didn’t keep standing in the way.

Now that the NBA had backed the California capital, what may be his final trip to town before his retirement was as a hero. He got a loud ovation between the first and second quarters, as he stood at center court with Johnson on his left and Ranadive on the right and received the key to the city from Johnson. The mayor also declared Oct. 30 as David Stern Day, indicating it would be a permanent distinction and not simply this Oct. 30.

“I would say that we have a pretty appreciative group of fans here,” Stern said when asked about his new popularity. “For the NBA. I don’t take it all personally. The owners did the right thing. They had a vote to cast and they cast it in favor of Sacramento. They did it because of what the mayor and the new ownership promised and Senator (Darrell) Steinberg (a representative from Sacramento and president pro tempore of the state senate) promised and the city council promised. Every promise was kept that was made to the NBA and the NBA kept its promise that if these things happened we’ll keep the team here. It’s a grand bargain in the best possible sense.

“This is a very important opening night, and I go to important opening nights. Expansions. Rings. New buildings. And new beginnings. And this is a new beginning, just as I went to Memphis last year on opening night because they had new ownership. I try to get all of the places where there’s new ownership, but I also try to get to places that are worthy beyond that even of celebrating. This is a celebration of the Sacramento fans and what they’ve meant to the league and to this franchise.”

The game was broadcast live in India, Ranadive’s birthplace. The Kings dancers did a routine to Indian music and in native dress. Johnson hugged Stern with a stronger hit than KJ put on Magic Johnson when they rumbled in the Suns-Lakers days, jostling the commissioner. Ranadive presented Stern with a construction helmet to signify the planned new downtown arena. The crowd cheered everything, including, and deservedly, itself.

No, there definitely had never been anything like it. It was the night the city had been waiting for. It was Game 2,249 and Season 29 after all.


VIDEO: Thompson’s board work helps seal thrilling opening win for Kings

Welcome To The @JCrossover Show!





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – For those of us who cannot get enough of the actual games of basketball, and not necessarily all of the periphery factors involved, this part of the offseason has only a few possibilities.

If you’re in the right city at the right time and you just happen to stumble upon the right court, you could get treated to what hoops heads in Seattle have been enjoying this summer. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin, Spencer Hawes and many others have shown up there this summer and dropped jaws with their play in the Jamal Crawford Pro Am.

The Los Angeles Clippers star has been a more than gracious host, but he’s a showman at heart. So you know he couldn’t let those other guys put on a better show than he could on his home turf.

The @JCrossover show was in full effect over the weekend … enjoy the freak show the Lob City crew put on (combining for 100 points in one game. Highlights above and below courtesy of our friends at Ball is Life):


Chris Hansen Hurt More Than Himself

Chris Hansen apparently wasn't ready to let things be in the Sacramento saga.

Chris Hansen apparently wasn’t ready to let things be in the Sacramento saga.

 

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HANG TIME WEST – Businessman-investor-covert-ops man Chris Hansen made sure to be sorry Friday. The man who led the charge to bring basketball back to Seattle was revealed as the anonymous donor behind the Hail Mary bid to stop plans to build an arena to keep the Kings in Sacramento.

A state commission said he broke laws about the lack of disclosure while trying to re-route the team to Seattle, so he apologized. After being caught.

This level of, umm, opposition research is hardly shocking where tycoons of Hansen’s level play every day in deals measured on the Richter scale. And just maybe there are one or two NBA owners who built their money stacks by indiscreet means. But within the NBA itself, the actions are potentially huge.

The Sacramento aspect may actually be the least of the problem. It is certainly the focus of the moment as Hansen searches hard for new lows in league skullduggery, and a particular contrast to what he had displayed in the effort to buy the Kings and then in being gracious in defeat once the Board of Governors kept the team in the California capital. The attempt to stop the arena was a long shot at best amid continued strong signs the plan would move forward (although this is the ultimate never-say-never drama).

If there is an apology to be made, it should be to Seattle for the way Hansen has injured his hometown’s efforts to get the NBA back. That is the true lasting impact of news Hansen secretly contributed $100,000 to help fund the petition drive to derail arena plans in Sacramento.

Ruin hopes in Seattle? Not even close. This doesn’t change the other facts: It is a great sports market with a proven level of support for the NBA and a corporate infrastructure few cities can match. If Hansen is not involved in whatever future bids may develop, there are plenty of other locals who are conversant in big business. And if Hansen is involved, perhaps enough owners shrug away the revelation as a simple misdemeanor of overreaching in the attempt to cover all the bases to close a deal potentially worth billions.

But this is unquestionably a setback in a time when Seattle cannot afford any, given the microscopic difference between winning and losing this kind of game. Look at the layers that went into play in the Sacramento saga, then add one more. Not a positive layer, either.

Hansen’s statement on Friday, via the Sacramento Bee, began with “I made a mistake I regret.” He emphasized he never had direct contact with the group trying to halt the Sacramento arena, apparently keeping his influence to merely helping the group stay afloat and having other people saying what he wanted.

Hansen continued:

”I have not agreed to provide any further political contributions and do not intend to make any further contributions.

I would also just point out that the contribution was made in my personal capacity and not on behalf of our ownership group or my partners. In fact, I have never discussed the contribution with them to date.

While I’m sure everyone can appreciate how easy it is to get caught up the heat of battle, with the benefit of hindsight, this is clearly a decision I regret. I wish the city of Sacramento and Kings fans the best in their efforts and they have my commitment not to have any involvement in their arena efforts in the future.”

He’s going to let the people of Sacramento handle the business of Sacramento. How magnanimous.

Hansen was gracious in defeat when the Board of Governors turned down the attempted purchase and relocation, what appeared to be the final official word from the Seattle side that had done and said so many things right. That group did not lose the bid so much as Sacramento won it because the league believed the future in Northern California could be as bright as the past. It’s just that the apology is really owed to Seattle.

Here’s David Stern explaining the much-talked-about Kings non-move in May:

Rule Tweaks, ‘Hornets’ Buzz Busy NBA’s Board Of Governors

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LAS VEGAS – And in a matinee clash in NBA Las Vegas summer action, it was Vespines 1, Felines 0…

Actually, that’s just a fancy-schmancy way of saying that “Hornets” is back in Charlotte and “Bobcats” is the league’s latest amnesty casualty, in a reset-by-nickname approved Thursday at the Board of Governors meeting here. The Board also approved five rules changes – three involving the expanded use of instant replay, a tweak to the clear-path foul and a reminder to offensive players to stay within the boundaries of play.

The transfer of “Hornets,” made available when New Orleans opted for “Pelicans” earlier this year, is intended as a reminder of a different sort. The franchise granted to Charlotte nine years ago, after sputtering on the court and at the gate for nearly its entire existence, will try to reach back to happier times by reclaiming the nickname that got relocated with the original expansion team to the Big Easy in 2002. The Board unanimously approved the switch, which will cost the Bobcats an estimated $3 million or more in changeover expenses and take effect after the 2013-14 season.

What’s in a name? Apparently, “Juliet” and the Bard had it wrong. Charlotte team president Fred Whitfield said the costs and efforts involved in this switch will be worth it to his team and its fans. He said the club wants to “grab those fans that love the NBA and haven’t connected with us.”

“Being a former season ticket holder of the Hornets,” Whitfield said, “I understood the energy that came into that building every night. So as we look forward to the future, we’re thrilled that our Bobcats fans and our Bobcat corporate sponsors that have supported us to this point will be able to connect to the old Hornets fans and have that galvanize our community around our NBA brand, not just in Charlotte, but in the Carolinas.”

This has been a basketball operation and civic relationship in need of a fresh start. Whatever obligation the NBA might have felt in returning to Charlotte two years after unpopular owner George Shinn moved the Hornets to New Orleans wasn’t returned with a honeymoon period. The new owner in town, Bob Johnson, didn’t seem to connect with the public much better than Shinn, the Bobcats nickname was a vanity choice based on his first name and, oh yeah, the basketball decisions and performances were shaky at best.

In 14 seasons, the Hornets had led the NBA in attendance eight times, stringing together 364 sellouts, while going 542-574 (.486). They won 50 games three times and reached the playoffs seven times.

The Bobcats, er, have been less successful all around. They ranked 28th in home attendance in their inaugural NBA season (2004-05) and 24th last season, only once averaging as many as 16,000 fans. They have finished above .500 and made the playoffs just once, posting a 250-472 mark (.346) since their inception.

They have been Michael Jordan‘s problem since he purchased control from Johnson, but have more in common with his Birmingham Barons stint than his Chicago Bulls majesty. Insiders say that even NBA commissioner David Stern, after initially dismissing the “Hornets” diehards, began to sell Jordan and others in team management on the value of some nickname nostalgia.

“I sort of laughed at it initially – you know, it is what it is, get over it,” Stern said. “But no. It stayed there, bubbling below the surface, and there is something to it.”

Chief among the Board’s other business Thursday were the rule changes that will take effect for the coming season. The first three involve expanded replay use:

  • When reviewing a block/charge play to determine whether the defender was inside or outside the restricted area, officials will be permitted to reverse or uphold the call based not just on the defender’s location but also whether he was set or not.
  • Replays can be used to determine whether an off-ball foul occurred before or after a player has begun his shooting motion on a successful shot attempt, or before or after the ball was released on a throw-in.
  • While reviewing a play, the officials will be permitted to assess penalties for unsportsmanlike and unnecessary acts that they spot during the reply.
  • Also, a clear-path-to-the-basket foul will not be assessed if at any point before the foul is committed the defender is positioned ahead of the offensive player in the frontcourt.
  • A team on offense will lose possession if one of its players leaves the floor and does not immediately return, unless he is injured, attempting to save the ball or in other extenuating circumstances.

As far as the application and effectiveness of flopping rules from last season, Stern said the NBA competition committee felt they were working well and warranted no changes.

Despite the commissioner’s label of “unremarkable” hung on this meeting in the desert, other topics came up either in the owners’ session or in the news conference that followed. Among them:

The CBA is working: Early indications after 18 months functioning under the current collective bargaining agreement suggest that NBA teams are navigating the rules, provisions and penalties in a way the owners had hoped. “Teams who are up against the tax level or even above it find themselves making hard decisions about what players are necessary to retain or not,” Stern said. “All of which strikes us as being pro‑competitive in terms of the league.”

Not only has the CBA led to shorter contracts and player movement for the coming season, it has boosted offseason interest in the league not unlike baseball’s “Hot Stove League” of winter.

“That’s a huge, huge builder of awareness and gets fans excited, teams excited and I think players excited about what their team reconfiguration is, so that’s all good,” Stern said.

Viva Las Vegas: The resort and gambling destination continues to loom large on the league’s radar. The summer league, a project of particular interest to NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver, Stern’s successor upon the commissioner’s Feb. 1 retirement date, has been a hit, they said, both for the basketball opportunities and its convention-like aspect. “What we’re moving to, in conjunction with Orlando, is a real sense of what baseball has in their winter meetings and where everyone gathers,” Stern said.

Added drug testing (eventually): Enhancements in the league’s anti-drug policy, particularly a “biological passport” concept and testing for human growth hormones, has been slowed by the National Basketball Players Association search for a new executive director. Stern said he expected that they could be added in time for the 2013-14 season.

Sacramento on track: The progress since Sacramento secured the Kings franchise continues with added season-ticket sales and an increase in sponsorship commitments. Reports on revenue sharing and the league-wide credit facility also were favorable. It all is part of what Stern called “another banner year for the NBA.”

Expansion spitballing: Silver said there has been no dialogue with Seattle and those behind efforts to restore the NBA to that market, and the deputy commissioner only acknowledged the potential for discussions about expansion “down the road,” be it in Seattle, Las Vegas or other possible cities.

But Stern, who enjoys dumping expansion questions on Silver, did note that plans for a new arena in Seattle are continuing, after mentioning similar plans in Las Vegas moments earlier. “It wouldn’t surprise me if Commissioner Silver was looking at strong applications from Las Vegas and Seattle in the coming years,” he said, “and I’m going to enjoy watching it.”

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.

Sacramento Or Seattle? Committees Offer Up Recommendation On Monday

The NBA’s relocation and finance committees will have a conference call on Monday, April 29, and make a recommendation on whether to approve the sale of the Sacramento Kings to a Seattle-based group that would move the team there next season or to reject the sale and keep the team in Sacramento.

After the recommendation is officially delivered to the NBA, the league’s owners will have seven business days to contemplate what to do and to conduct a final vote. That would mean the league could have a final vote as early as Wednesday, May 8, though it does not mean they would vote that day.

The NBA’s Board of Governors did not take a vote on whether to allow the sale from the Maloof Family to a group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at its annual meeting earlier this month. The city of Sacramento, led by Mayor Kevin Johnson, has put together an ownership group led by software magnate Vivek Ranadive and 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov that has put in a bid to buy the team from the Maloofs and keep them in Sacramento.

Both cities have received local approval for building new arenas that would take some public funding as part of the construction costs. Owners on the committees wanted more information concerning the schedules each city has for constructing the building, as well as potential environmental and legal issues each city faces before construction can begin.

The Hansen group reached agreement with the Maloofs in January to purchase 65 percent of the team, on a franchise valuation of $525 million, equaling $341 million for the 65 percent, and gave a $30 million non-refundable deposit to the Maloofs. Earlier this month, after the Ranadive group made it clear to owners it would match the Hansen offer, Hansen announced his group would “voluntarily” raise its franchise valuation of the Kings to $550 million, meaning an additional $16.5 million would go to the Maloofs, for $357.5 million for 65 percent of the team.

The Ranadive group has matched the $525 million valuation, but has not yet opted to match the $550 million valuation. According to a letter released by the Maloofs earlier this month, the Ranadive group has pledged a $15 million non-refundable deposit.

The Maloofs have consistently told the league that they want to take the deal with the Hansen group. But Commissioner David Stern has been adamant that while the NBA generally allows owners to sell to whomever they like, the league will make the determination whether the Kings will be allowed to move.

A vote to approve a sale requires three-quarters of the league’s owners, or 23 of the 30. A vote to approve a franchise move requires a simple majority, or 16 of the league’s 30 owners.

Seattle-Sacramento Tug O’War Gets 3 More Weeks Of Rope

 

NEW YORK – Calling it a “wrenching” decision, NBA commissioner David Stern told reporters Friday that the thorny issue of the Sacramento Kings’ proposed sale and relocation would be resolved within the next three weeks.

Which way it goes – the Kings staying and playing right where they are or shifting north as the second coming of the Seattle SuperSonics – remains unclear. And, as Stern told it after the latest NBA Board of Governors meeting, it even has him guessing.

“It’s the only time in the last 37 – 47 years – that I haven’t known the answer,” Stern said, playful with his own timeline in response to a reporter’s question, then turning serious about the process. “No, but this is one that’s just been quite difficult and confusing for the owners as well. And we’ve been working very hard to give it a structure at their direction.”

Whether you believe that assessment might hinge on your view of Stern. Did the most powerful (and some would say controversial) commissioner in sports get that way by behaving like Lady Justice, blindfolded and scales all even-steven? Or is he still the delicatessen owner’s son from Teaneck, N.J., adept at resting a thumb ever-so-slightly on the scale?

Advocates on both sides of the Maloof family‘s possible sale and transfer of the franchise to Seattle interests headed by investors Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer are skeptical that Stern isn’t shading or influencing the process in some way. If both sides are worried that it’s tilting against them, that at least is worth something.

The bottom line out of the BOG sessions held Thursday and Friday, after diligent work by the relocation and finance committees, was that any tilting would matter after the week of May 6-10. That’s when a FINAL final vote will be taken and the Kings’ fate decided.

Why the wait? Those committees will meet again next week to sort through remaining questions about arena construction and financing and about the particulars of each group’s offer. The report they issue will be sent to the entire Board of Governors, which must have at least seven business days to review it. Also, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson told NBA.com Friday that he thought his group would be permitted to make a final pitch on that city’s behalf.

All of that pushes the BOG vote out three weeks. A league spokesman said it could be held face-to-face again or via conference call. Any meeting might be back in New York or could be held in one of the active playoff cities. Then and only then would folks watching the NBA Draft Lottery know whether the team card in the big envelope said Sacramento or Seattle.

Said Stern: “What makes this particularly difficult … is the Seattle group has done a lot of work. It’s well funded. It’s got spectacular businessmen who support the community behind it, and the Sacramento group has a very strong base of economic support as well.”

The Hansen-Ballmer group recently upped its offer to $357.5 million for a 65 percent controlling interest in the Kings, which pushed the team’s valuation to $550 million. The Sacramento group led by Johnson and investors Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov also have made a bid that, Stern said Friday, is being treated as a signed agreement. Both offers are “in the ballpark,” Stern said when asked about significant differences.

Both have the same negative, too: Neither the Kings’ current home or an NBA return to Seattle’s KeyArena offers the long-term solution.

“We’ve got two temporary facilities that we’re going to be playing in,” Stern said, “whichever way the board goes, and the quality of those facilities and there’s so many other issues and the critical path based upon environmental reviews, potential lawsuits and the like.”

It’s a hot mess, an either/or dilemma that is likely to leave one of the markets – the capital of California or the former Pacific Northwest home of one of the league’s showcase teams – on the outside looking in.

When asked about expansion to Seattle as a compromise solution, Stern said: “I haven’t heard that in any shape or form, particularly when we don’t know at this time what the next television network contract would be.” Remember, beyond dilution of talent and scheduling and alignment concerns, divvying up the hundreds of millions of dollars a 31st NBA franchise would pay for entry would mean cutting another slice from the broadcast revenues in the future.

Then there is Stern’s legacy, which will be sealed next Feb. 1 when he resigns after 30 years. Deputy commissioner Adam Silver has been tabbed as his successor.

Said Stern: “We have expended not only enormous man‑hours but enormous sums of money for outside consultants. This will be by far our most extensive review of anything like this in the league’s history.”

Among other items on the BOG agenda Thursday and Friday:

– Reports on revenue-sharing and the impact of the collective bargaining agreement were heard. “Very upbeat in terms of improving team operations and the competitiveness of the league,” Sterm said.

Jeannie Buss was approved as controlling governor of the Los Angeles Lakers, as the family continues its succession of late owner Jerry Buss. Also, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert and partners purchased additional interest in the Cavaliers franchise.

– The governors “had fun” with a report on officiating, while formally welcoming former NBA player and league exec Mike Bantom as the new head of officiating.

– A report from the competition committee was educational for the owners in highlighting the trends of increased 3-point reliance – from no teams that averaged 20 or more attempts from the arc in 2001 to a dozen that did so this season, Stern said. That, in turn, has opened up the game to the bosses’ satisfaction.

– Security matters also were discussed, especially in the wake of the events this week in Boston. The bombings at the Boston Marathon led to the cancellation of Tuesday’s Pacers-Celtics game in that city. The NBA will be making a “significant contribution,” the commissioner said, to the One Fund established to aid victims of that terrorist attack.

– Stern said he remains optimistic that human-growth hormones will be added to the NBA’s anti-drug testing program but that addition involves cooperation of the National Basketball Players Association, which is busy finding a replacement for executive director Billy Hunter.

 

Sacramento Mayor Johnson Sightsees While Awaiting Kings’ Fate

NEW YORK – Ran into Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson just before noon on the sidewalk here Friday. He was looking awfully casual for a civic leader whose NBA franchise and claim as a major-league sports market was being bandied about at that moment.

The NBA Board of Governors meeting — the place where the Sacramento King’s future was being discussed and eventually will be determined — was being held in a midtown Manhattan hotel. But Johnson was dressed in athletic gear, heading out for an afternoon almost like a tourist. Turns out he cleared his schedule and purchased airline tickets for the cross-country trek, based on early reports that the franchise’s fate — Sacramento? Seattle? — would be decided this week.

It won’t. Johnson’s trip had turned ceremonial, informal and a show of earnestness for anyone wondering about his city’s commitment. The mayor said his information is that the league will continue to address the Kings’ sale and possible relocation next week, with a BOG vote at some point after that.

“There were no presentations for today,” said Johnson, the former Phoenix Suns All-Star guard. “I’ve been told that we’ll be able to address the board again before a vote.”

So how was Johnson going to spend Friday afternoon? “We’re getting a tour of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn,” he said. “And I’m ‘on call’ if I’m needed over at the [Governors] meeting.”

With discussion but not determination of the Kings, the main agenda items Friday include reports on revenue sharing and the collective bargaining agreement, an anti-drug program report and updates from the international and competition committees.

The End (Of 2012-13) For The Kings

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – They met back in the same place Wednesday night, almost two years later to the day, to share emotions; to sing and just to hang around. Especially to hang around.

Kings fans got another season finale that could become the finale and turned it into a pep rally and party. They stayed after the game, and then kept staying.

Twenty minutes.

Thousands of people remained in Sleep Train Arena long after the 112-108 loss to the Clippers before a capacity crowd of 17,317, first on both levels and then congregating entirely around the lower bowl and mostly ringing the court. With the win, Los Angeles got home-court advantage over the Grizzlies in the first-round series that starts Saturday. With the night, the people of Sacramento got its own reward.

Thirty minutes.

Staffers held a rope around the court, presumably because these are days of increased security. Fans, allowed on the floor in the same situation in 2011, had stricter limits this time. It didn’t matter. They were in good spirits, chanting “Sac-ra-men-to!” and “Thank you, KJ” in appreciation of mayor Kevin Johnson, and other rally cries. The security personnel handled it all very well.

Forty minutes.

There were songs too. Phillip Phillips with “Home” was impossible to miss. So was Red Sox anthem “Sweet Caroline,” an unusual selection in the building but a particularly classy choice: it was a tribute to Boston. And signs, of course. Signs are always part of the Sleep Train experience. The best read:

IT’S NOT

OVER

(AGAIN)

Fifty minutes.

Maybe it is over. Maybe it’s not. A group has reached agreement to buy majority interest in the Kings and move the team to Seattle next season. The Board of Directors, originally scheduled to vote on the sale in the next couple days as part of the regularly scheduled meeting, pushed the decision back at least a couple weeks. Fans left Wednesday night confident, but not actually knowing, whether this was the final game ever in the California capital.

Sixty minutes.

The couple thousand fans that remained were asked to leave shortly after 11 p.m. They had stayed just like April 13, 2011, when the Lakers beat the Kings in overtime with the team on the ledge for the first time amid the possibility of relocation to Anaheim, Calif. That time felt like a wake, people finding cheer in a gloomy time. This wasn’t that. This was more like a pep rally. What a faithful group believed was the sendoff to a season and nothing more.

The Business Of Buying An NBA Team

HANG TIME WEST – Now the group trying to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle has increased its offer in what is either the latest smart strategy move to put disorganized Sacramento on the clock with another problem (the Seattle viewpoint), or the desperate act of an operation that knows a big lead is about turn into defeat and is resorting to Hail Mary passes (the Sacramento viewpoint).

The $25-million bump by the always-proactive enterprise from Washington state would push the sale price for the Maloof family’s 65 percent of the team to $357.5 million – and put the total valuation of the Kings at $550 million. The Sacramento Kings. The Sacramento Kings annually residing in the lottery. The Sacramento Kings rated by Forbes in 2012 as the 23rd-most valuable franchise in the league, with an estimated worth of $300 million.

Those Sacramento Kings.

Except, in what has become the factor too often overlooked, no one is trying to buy a basketball team. That goes for both sides, the Chris Hansen-Steve Ballmer group aiming for the reincarnation of the SuperSonics and the Sacramento counter-strike led by mayor Kevin Johnson and Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov as majority investors trying to keep a civic institution in town. Neither party is paying a record amount for an NBA franchise, the prorated equivalent of $100 million more than what the Warriors sold for in 2010, for the chance to decide what to do about DeMarcus Cousins.

They are trying to buy a piece. As much as they are sports fans with the chance for the ultimate toy, the Kings are the catalyst for a much larger plan. The Washington Generals would be worth $550 million.

Both cities have arena plans. Seattle’s projected building is close to the stadiums of the Mariners and Seahawks. In Sacramento, though, the bigger picture is the revitalization of an entire downtown area. No NBA team, no arena. No arena, no economic injection from construction. (Or at least no arena of this scale – Johnson has said his city will need a new entertainment complex with or without professional sports as an anchor tenant.)

Also, Ron Burkle, once part of the Sacramento bid for the arena and team before a conflict of interest forced him to drop out, has committed to being part of development around the arena. Burkle invested in your city is a very good thing.

In financial terms alone, apart from the emotional value of the only major-league team in town, losing the Kings would have a dramatic effect. The team is a marketing tool that helps Sacramento stay on the national map, and some local leaders through the years have expressed worry that convention business would suffer without the loud presence of the NBA.

How much is having the league back in Seattle worth to Hansen-Ballmer? According to Chris Daniels of King 5, the NBC affiliate there, the group has alreaady spent $100 million just to put itself in position for the honor of setting the value of a 28-53 team at a record level. This is, of course, about much more than the 28-53 team that could be playing its final game in Sacramento when the Kings face the Clippers on Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena. The Seattle group envisions $40 million a year from local television alone, Daniels reports.

The original plan was to have Sacramento-Seattle resolved when the Board of Governors meets Thursday and Friday in New York. When both cities made presentations to a group of owners and league officials April 3, commissioner David Stern raised the possibility of the answer not coming within days of the end of the regular season. Tuesday, it became official: no vote this week, and no new date set.