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NBA Kings Owner the Maloof family is weighing "competing offers" for the team and on Thursday said that they "want to press ahead with the deal they've made with investors from Seattle," according to Lillis, Kasler & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. A source said that the statement is the "strongest indication yet that the Maloofs favor the Seattle deal over a backup offer from investors trying to keep the team in Sacramento." The NBA BOG finishes its meeting Friday, but is not expected to vote on the Kings' fate "for at least two more weeks." Meanwhile, it remained "unclear whether the Maloofs would sell to Sacramento's bidders if the Seattle deal is vetoed." Disagreements have "developed between the Maloofs and the Sacramento group," led by Warriors Vice Chair Vivek Ranadivé, "over some of the terms of Ranadive's backup offer." A source said that Sacramento's counteroffer to Seattle hedge fund manager Chris Hansen's recent offer "calls on the Maloofs to scrap the Hansen deal before it comes to a vote." The source said that another possible "sticking point is that Sacramento's bid isn't a binding offer." Meanwhile, Warriors co-Owner Joe Lacob on Thursday said that he "encouraged Ranadive to pursue the Kings." Lacob: "I wish him the best." Asked if it would help the Warriors financially to have the Kings leave Northern California, Lacob said, "I don't think we look at it that way. I don't think that's an issue" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/19).
INSIDE THE MEETING: In Seattle, Bob Condotta writes "much work still remains" to be done. Pelicans Owner Tom Benson on Thursday said that the BOG is just now "getting into the meat and coconuts" of the Kings issue. The BOG is "scheduled to meet again Friday morning and afternoon, after which NBA commissioner David Stern is expected to meet formally with the media." The BOG on Thursday "met for about six hours and concluded" around 9:00pm ET. There was "undeniably little talking publicly about what may have been said, however, as owners and other officials emerged from the meetings here at the St. Regis Hotel in midtown Manhattan decidedly tight-lipped." Trail Blazers BOD member Peter McLoughlin, who was filling at the meeting for Owner Paul Allen, said, "It's very confidential at this point." Kings co-Owner George Maloof "tried to sneak out a hotel side door," but ended up speaking to reporters. Maloof "revealed little other than that the family hoped 'to get it over with at some point' and that he expects the decision to come in May." Several owners on Thursday reiterated that expansion is "not being discussed" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/19).
GOING GLOBAL: In Sacramento, Joe Davidson writes much like former NBAer Yao Ming "helped increase the NBA's popularity in his native China last decade, imagine what the league could do in India should Ranadive and his group gain NBA ownership approval." At halftime of Wednesday's season finale, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson "beamed during a private moment and talked about the untapped frontier that is India." The NBA already "has an office in Mumbai with six employees marketing the league" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/19).
The Nuggets enter the NBA Playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference following a team-record 57-win season, and proof of "Nuggets Fever" is being seen by what fans "collectively have done with their actions, and their wallets, backing a team that has surprised many by doing so well without a superstar," according to a front-page piece by Christopher Dempsey of the DENVER POST. The Nuggets drew the "second-most fans in franchise history" to Pepsi Center this season. The demand for team merchandise is "at an all-time high," as Nuggets items at the Altitude Authentics store in the arena have "flown off the shelves." Kroenke Sports Enterprises Dir of Retail Operations Jon Waldron said, "This is my 15th year now, and it's the highest it's ever been." Dempsey reports a unique quality to the fan support is the "variety of jerseys being sold." There is "not the sight of person after person wearing" a jersey for former Nuggets stars Carmelo Anthony or Chauncey Billups. Instead, fans are wearing jerseys "honoring one of six or seven players on the team." The club's new gold jerseys "have been the fan's favorite." Meanwhile, local ratings on Altitude Sports & Entertainment were "up 25 percent over last season's average," including hikes of 89.8% over March '12 and 54.1% over last April (DENVER POST, 4/19).
Islanders Owner Charles Wang on Thursday said the team is "not in any discussions" about leaving Nassau Coliseum next year, according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. Wang said, "It's really not in my control. We will work with whatever the county does. We are prepared to honor the lease, which is what we're doing now ... (Moving early) would be fine, but we're set with where we are and what it is is what it is. We knew this going in." Wang said he had talked to Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner about the possibility of moving the Islanders to the arena in '14, rather than '15, and it "would be nice if we could and there is maybe an opportunity." Best notes moving early would enable the Islanders to "tap into the improved revenue streams" afforded by Barclays Center, while the county "presumably would receive a payment to compensate it for allowing the team to leave" (NEWSDAY, 4/19). Wang earlier on Thursday at the SBJ/SBD Sports Facilities & Franchises Conference was pressed as to whether the opportunity would present itself to play in Brooklyn in '14-15, and he said, "I would think it would make sense to everyone, obviously" (THE DAILY).
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS: In addition to speaking on the Islanders' impending move at the conference, Wang touched on the arena deal failing in Nassau County, but succeeding in Brooklyn. He said, "(The deal) is everything we wanted to do for Long Island. Except we failed. And Bruce Ratner, as you all know, succeeded. It's a bittersweet kind of thing because we wanted to make sure the team stayed local. It was so important because this is where I grew up. This was my neighborhood. ... I didn't think we would fail in building it, and I really didn't think (Ratner) had that much of a chance. After all, he was on top of a rail yard. But with all his obstacles, I didn't realize our obstacles were bigger. ... As time went on, it became more and more evident that this was a great alternative." Wang on the struggles of remaining in Nassau Coliseum and why he would look at other possible sites: "You get cramps from writing the checks. We tried everything we could. It didn't work." He added of talks with other cities, "There were offers, bona fide offers to move it. ... We made the commitment to try everything possible to stay local. It's the New York Islanders." With regard to the relationship with the Nets organization, Wang said Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark's "group will be working with us, but they are going to be responsible for the business side. We keep the whole hockey operations." Asked whether he likes being a team owner, Wang said, "I love the hockey part of it. I love the Islanders. I don't like all the other bullshit that went with it" (THE DAILY). Wang said that there "might be an alternate third jersey that will reference the borough." But he added, "We're part of Long Island still" (NEWSDAY, 4/19).
The Bills’ '13 schedule is "favorable from a ticket-selling and fan-comfort perspective," as "four of the first six games are at home," according to Mark Gaughan of the BUFFALO NEWS. The Bills play "only one December game in Orchard Park, on Dec. 22" against the Dolphins. The team last year played "three December games in Orchard Park and failed to sell out two of them." Late-season home games "typically are harder to sell out." Meanwhile, coming off a 6-10 season, the Bills "did not get any love from the television networks." For the fourth straight year, the Bills are "not scheduled to appear on either" NBC’s "SNF" or ESPN’s "MNF" (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/19). In Rochester, Sal Maiorana notes the Bills have "only two games scheduled for the 4 o'clock time slot, one of those on Sunday, Dec. 1, the annual 'home' game in Toronto where the Atlanta Falcons will be the opponent at Rogers Centre." It is the "fourth year in a row the game in Canada will be played against an NFC foe." However, this is a "vastly different schedule than the 2012 version." The Bills last year played "only three home games by the middle of November, then played four of the last five at home -- all in December -- including their Toronto game." This year, the Bills will play "six home games -- all in Orchard Park -- by the middle of November" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 4/19).
Jets coach Rex Ryan on Thursday "torched" MLB and the Orioles for "not stepping aside" during a scheduling conflict with the Ravens that resulted in the team losing its ability to host its season opener, according to Mike Garafolo of USA TODAY. Every Super Bowl champion has hosted the first game of the subsequent season since '04, and Ryan said, "I understand the Orioles are playing a game at home. Well, who really cares? You've got 81 of them things at home and maybe you could've done the right thing and given one up and played 82 on the road and 80 at home. I really don't think people are going to care about that game." Ryan, who was a member of the Ravens' coaching staff from '99-'08, added, "The defending champion, in my opinion, should always open at home. They've earned that right. To think that something couldn't have been worked out, that's disappointing. ... If baseball had a 16-game schedule, you might understand it. But when they have 162 games, I think you might just, out of common courtesy, say, 'You know what, maybe I'll play this one on the road or whatever'" (USATODAY.com, 4/18). The Ravens will now open the season on the road against the Broncos, and former NBC Sports Group Chair Dick Ebersol said, "It's a heck of a recovery by the NFL, who I think had to have been really shocked at the sort of weak local performance by the Baltimore Orioles in not realizing the once-in-a-generation success that their friends across the street, the Ravens, had. And they refused to move their baseball game to a daytime game on that first Thursday night of the football season. I think the league's done a great recovery" ("Schedule Release '13," NFL Network, 4/18).
NOT AN EVEN PLAYING FIELD: SI’s Peter King said he spoke with ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian about the situation, and Kurkjian told him that if Orioles manager Buck Showalter “was ever even asked by anybody in the organization about this, as much as he loves the Ravens, which he does, he would have viewed this as a way of putting the Orioles at a competitive disadvantage." Under that set-up, Showalter "never would have agreed to it” ("The Dan Patrick Show," 4/19).
LOOKING TOWARD THE FALL: In Baltimore, Jeff Zrebiec notes the Ravens "won’t get their season-opening home game," but they "will play four prime-time games, including a Thanksgiving night showdown at home" against the Steelers. Their schedule is "highlighted" by the matchup versus the Broncos. The team's two primetime road games will "be an opener in Denver and a matchup with the Detroit Lions before a Monday Night Football audience on Dec. 16 at Ford Field" (Baltimore SUN, 4/19).
The Red Sox are scheduled to play the Royals Friday night in their first home game since the Boston Marathon bombings, and the game will "be about Boston," an opportunity to "bring a city and a fanbase together to mourn and pay tribute to the victims of the bombings, and the first responders," according to Nick Cafardo of the BOSTON GLOBE. Fans will "likely see a similar show at Fenway Friday night" to the Bruins' first home game on Wednesday. Red Sox Senior Advisor Dr. Charles Steinberg is "not looking for a major production." Instead, he is "looking to capture the moment in the most natural way possible." Cafardo notes a "good bet is that the crowd will join in on the national anthem, and a moment of silence will be observed." It also is a "good bet you’ll see some sort of player participation, though no formal show is planned." The Red Sox’ road jerseys include the word "BOSTON" on the front, while the home jerseys say "RED SOX." It would be a "good idea to have the Red Sox wear their road uniforms at Fenway for one night" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/19). ESPN BOSTON's Gordon Edes wrote a reminder of the bombings "has already been affixed on the Green Monster in left: The team's 'B' logo, with the word 'strong' underneath, an avatar that has been adopted in countless places across cyberspace." The Red Sox will "follow the example of the Bruins on Wednesday night and cue organist Josh Kantor to provide accompaniment for a collective singing of the anthem before Friday's game" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 4/18). Royals P Bruce Chen said, "The game is something that gives them hope and is something that helps them to keep going. We’re all concerned about the security, but one of the things we’re doing is trying to help the city get back to a sense of normalcy" (K.C. STAR, 4/19).
LENDING A HAND: The Bruins and Penguins will auction off their game-worn jerseys from Friday night's game to support those affected by the bombings. The Bruins' jerseys will include a blue and yellow "Boston Strong" patch, while the Penguins will wear a "617" patch representing the Boston area code. The Bruins also announced official sweaters will be raffled off at the Panthers-Bruins game on Sunday and the Lightning-Bruins game on April 25 at the Bruins Foundation Table located at Level 4 Loge 4 to support The One Fund Boston (Bruins). Meanwhile, SPEEDTV.com's Mike Hembree notes some NASCAR teams are "stepping up to show support for Boston" in the wake of the bombings. The three Roush Fenway Ford Fusions will "carry 'B-Strong' decals during this weekend’s NASCAR event, and RFR co-owner Jack Roush has pledged to donate $100 for every lap the team leads" during Sunday’s Sprint Cup STP 400 at Kansas Speedway. Team Owner Michael Waltrip "plans to honor the victims ... by running special door numbers on his three Sprint Cup cars at Kansas." The door numbers on the No. 15, 55 and 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyotas "will replicate the 2013 Boston Marathon runner 'bib' numbers" (SPEEDTV.com, 4/18).