During last year’s playoffs, the Maloof family sent an attorney to an Orange County Register reporter’s home to collect evidence. The evidence in question was audio of Phil Jackson comparing the embattled family to unpopular former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.
While the Maloofs may have wanted observers to believe they were merely protecting their image, or even trying to keep the Lakers’ mouthpiece from framing a potential move to Anaheim in a negative way — the reality is that evidence of possible complicity between Phil Jackson, the Lakers, and the NBA against the Maloofs was being collected for a potential antitrust lawsuit against the league.
An antitrust lawsuit (or the threat of one) would be used by the family if they wanted to move the team without the league’s consent.
The decision to send this attorney was widely derided as a bully tactic, though if we take the Maloofs at face value they were told by the NBA that the audio evidence of Jackson’s comments was not available as it normally would be (as pre-game pressers during the playoffs are usually recorded).
Apparently, the Maloofs’ only recourse would be to schedule an appointment with the reporter and ask for the tape. The reporter met with the attorney but declined to give up the tape.
Of course, nothing says ‘we love Sacramento’ and ‘get off my lawn’ like sending an attorney to a reporter’s house to recover antitrust evidence.
One year later with nothing but scorched earth behind them, the Maloofs are at it again – dispatching a former FBI agent to collect information from the 25 local business leaders that asked David Stern to consider changing team ownership.
According to the local CBS affiliate in Sacramento, the FBI agent turned private eye has been contacting those leaders trying to find evidence that one of them forged a signature on the letter they sent to Stern, which was largely ceremonial in nature.
“We got a call from somebody claiming to be a private investigator and trying to get in touch with myself to see if we signed a letter to the NBA commissioner; because they believe our names were forged,” said Stranley Lukowicz.
When asked if his name was forged, Lukowicz said, “No they were not.”
CBS13 asked George Maloof about the ex-FBI agent inquiry by phone and text, and received a statement from his spokesperson.
“It is the Kings’ and Maloof policy not to discuss internal business,” the statement read.
Barring something extremely unforeseen, it’s hard to see the relevance of a theoretically forged signature if the family’s goal is to stay in Sacramento (it’s not).
But if you want to make things uncomfortable for those that might be angling against you, or if you’re collecting more evidence for a future antitrust lawsuit – by all means — go hire a PI and disenfranchise your entire sponsor base.