Johnson Calls On Seattle Group To Back Off After NBA Committee's Recommendation
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson yesterday said Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer should "take the high road and be gracious" after they indicated they were still exploring their options with regard to acquiring the Kings and moving them to Seattle, according to Ryan Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Johnson said of Hansen and Ballmer, "Once the relocation committee spoke as loud and as clear as it did, I would probably take a step back and understand that I'm probably not going to get this team, so how can I put Seattle in the best possible position to get a team moving forward?" He added that he would "travel to Dallas next week, when the full NBA board of governors is expected to take a final vote on whether to approve the Maloof family's sale of the Kings to Hansen and Ballmer -- or to a Sacramento group led by Silicon Valley software exec Vivek Ranadive" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/8). In Seattle, Jerry Brewer wrote NBA Commissioner David Stern would have "loved" for Hansen, Ballmer and their "investor dream team to put their heads down and walk away after the recommendation went public." Hansen instead is "quoting Muhammad Ali and intending to exhaust his 'options' to bring the NBA back to the Puget Sound." Brewer: "If the risk is alienating the league in perpetuity, so be it." Seattle "played nice five years ago in the hopes of getting a team back quickly, and it's not like that turned Stern into an advocate." Still, it is a "false notion that Seattle's hopes would be forever ruined if it challenges the NBA on this Kings sale." It is "time to fight because this is a perfect storm of a fantastic potential ownership group, a supportive local political climate, a re-energized fan base, sensible arena deal and an unprecedented offer to the NBA." If this "investor dream team doesn't win, there's no telling when the city will have an opportunity again" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/7).
RANADIVE'S GAMBLE: ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst wrote the "revelation" that Ranadive had agreed to lessen the Kings' revenue-sharing allotments while the team still plays in Sleep Train Arena and forgo them once they build a new arena "helps explain why owners on the league's relocation committee appeared to pass on what had looked like a better long-term financial situation by moving the team to the larger Seattle market." It was a "shrewd, if quite expensive, card to put on the table as owners were making the challenging decision of what to do with the team." A source said that Ranadive "made the offer after a study projected a strong increase in team revenues once a new arena is opened" (ESPN.com, 5/6).