Tag: Kevin Johnson


Sacramento approves new Kings arena in final vote


Years and even decades of struggles came to an end on Tuesday, when the Sacramento City Council voted 7-2 to approve a new Entertainment and Sports Center that the Kings will call home as soon as the 2016 season. This is the final vote on the arena and demolition of a failed mall at the new arena site in Sacramento’s downtown will commence immediately.

Tuesday’s vote was marked by all-day celebrations including appearances by owner Vivek Ranadive, point guard Isaiah Thomas, and a host of local figures that were instrumental in keeping the team in town.

Sacramento had tried for years to come to an agreement on an arena with the intransigent Maloof family, who lost the means to own an NBA team and desperately sought to relocate as a solution to their financial woes.

The team was eventually sold to Ranadive after Seattle billionaires Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer tried to cut a quick deal with the Maloofs, which the league rejected because of its preference to keep the team in Sacramento. The Maloofs begrudgingly sold the team to Ranadive after it was clear that they had no other choice.

Kings fans have dealt with relocation threats for many years and their grassroots efforts to keep the team were well-documented. Their local politicians and business leaders made a concerted effort to keep the team in town. That support was the difference between keeping the team and suffering the fate of other cities like Seattle that did not want to play ball on the issue of public funding for state-of-the-art arenas.

While the topic of public funding for arenas is controversial, what isn’t in doubt is that Sacramento put its time and money on the line and the city deserves tremendous credit for keeping its team. Tuesday’s vote leaves just one last step in a long journey – opening night.

Kevin Johnson not interested in NBPA job, but he would be the best man for the job


One of the best opening playoff rounds in recent memory got turned on its head when TMZ released audio on Friday allegedly containing several terrible, racially-charged remarks that Clippers owner Donald Sterling made to his girlfriend.

The next day in Memphis, a somewhat overwhelmed Adam Silver held his first presser under duress as the NBA’s head man, just as news of the death of former Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley hit the wire.  The commissioner spoke in his usual lawyerly style, which was proper as the NBA tip-toes through a minefield of legal issues.

To date, the NBA Players Association has worked alongside Silver to ensure that due process is followed, that things don’t get out of hand from the players’ standpoint, and most importantly from their point of view that the NBA does everything it can to deal with the Sterling situation with the heaviest hand possible.

Part of why the players and the NBA have worked well together so far has been the familiar face of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.  Johnson has been in the process of finding a new executive director for the beleaguered union, but he was called upon by Clippers point guard Chris Paul to get involved with the players’ response to this issue.

Sources close to Johnson tell ProBasketballTalk that he is not interested in the union’s head job, despite round applause from people around the league for his handling of the Sterling situation so far.

Johnson was a driving force behind Sacramento’s success in keeping the Kings in town last year.  He worked alongside the league, David Stern and Adam Silver to secure a qualified owner and new arena with the Maloof family wanting out of the league.  The Maloofs knew they needed to create a bidding war in order to get the highest sales price possible, and they struck a controversial deal with Seattle billionaires Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer to sell the team.  The deal was designed to quickly put pressure on Johnson and Sacramento to deliver a qualified response, and from Seattle’s point of view the strategy was to create an air of inevitability among decision-makers and media that Sacramento had a shaky proposal.

It was amidst this backdrop that Johnson methodically used his political background to outmaneuver his opponents and convince owners to reject the Kings’ relocation to Seattle.  His team boasted political heavyweight and crisis consultant Chris Lehane, and his network of contacts extend all the way up to President Barack Obama.

The NBPA would certainly love to have Johnson in their top spot because he would be the best man for the job, but they’ll have to settle for him finding the next best thing.

Owners to postpone vote on Kings fate, nothing this week

Clippers Kings Basketball

And the anguish of waiting for Sacramento and Seattle fans will go on. And on.

The NBA Board of Governors (the owners) will meet this Thursday and Friday in New York and while they will discuss in some detail the proposed sale of the Kings to a Seattle group with plans to move the team north, there will be no vote.

So tweets Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, who spoke with the NBA:

An NBA spokesman confirmed to PBT there will be not be a vote this week but the owners will debate the issue.

The reason for no vote is in part because the offers keep changing for the team.

The Seattle group — led by venture capitalist Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer — upped its offer last week by $25 million (for the full value of the franchise, they would have to kick in an extra $16 million for their 65 percent). That would take the franchise value to $550 million.

The Sacramento group — put together by mayor Kevin Johnson with billionaire and minority Warriors owner Vivek Ranadive out in front — is expected to modify its offer for the team officially on Wednesday. They had matched the previous Seattle offer and after first saying they wouldn’t match this one they are making some tweaks.

All of this is a lot for the owners to digest — these are two strong offers, both with plans for new arenas. It felt like a week ago Sacramento had enough momentum to keep the team, but the increased offers left basically everyone unsure of how the ultimate vote will go.

The owners are apparently unsure as well and are going to take a little more time getting around to looking at the numbers and voting.

So Wednesday night may be the final Kings game ever in Sacramento. Or it may not.