Sacramento Mayor Cranks Up Effort To Keep Kings; Strategy Resembles Political Campaign
Aides to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said that his efforts over the next six weeks to keep the NBA Kings from moving to Seattle "will closely resemble a political campaign," according to Lillis, Kasler & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The "key element of that push is Think Big, a public relations machine funded by private donations assembled to galvanize local support for the cause." Think Big has "another task as well: catching the attention of national media outlets in an attempt to sway the opinions of key NBA officials." Johnson's team has "identified 'swing votes' on the NBA's board of governors who could be sympathetic to Sacramento's cause and vote against the Kings' relocation attempt." One group Johnson is "expected to target: the four men who own franchises in both the NHL and NBA." That is because Penguins co-Owner and Kings bidder Ron Burkle is "well respected among the hockey league's other owners." In order to "block the sale" to the Seattle group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Johnson "must persuade eight of the NBA's 30 team owners to side with him when they meet" in mid-April. The Seattle contingent "is conducting its own intense lobbying effort, having already paid" a $30M deposit to Kings Owner the Maloof family. A source said that reps of Hansen and Ballmer "have been contacting NBA team owners to push for their deal to buy the team and move it to Seattle in time for" the '13-14 season (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/8).
WANTING TO GET INVOVLED: In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin notes former NBAer Mitch Richmond is "among the investors who each have committed" $1M to the Kings and are "bidding on the seven percent share being auctioned in bankruptcy proceedings." Richmond, a six-time All-Star in Sacramento, "quietly revealed" that if the potential Kings ownership group of Burkle and 24 Hour Fitness co-Founder Mark Mastrov "prevails, he will pursue a position in the basketball front office" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/8).