Put up or shut up.
David Stern is too much the diplomat to put it like that, but it was the gist of his comments in a Monday conference call discussing the decision by the Maloof brothers not to seek relocation from Sacramento to Anaheim.
Couching everything in words of praise for Sacramento fans and their outpouring of support, and for Mayor Kevin Johnson’s plan and energy, Stern echoed what the Maloof brothers said earlier in the day — if there is not a stadium deal well along the road to done by next March 1, the Kings will be free to leave.
And that could be back to Anaheim: “I think that Anaheim is in the future of the NBA,” Stern said.
Sacramento, your move.
Stern added that as of right now nobody really knows how this new stadium will be financed. So, there’s that little detail. In an interview with reporters earlier in the day George Maloof sounded like they would not be putting up cash into any plan. Getting any public money will be nearly impossible.
The NBA is going to play fair — they are sending a team of nine people from the NBA offices to work “in every aspect” of the Kings business, including sponsorships, ticket sales and media relations.
The reason is likely to mend relationships, according to Tom Ziller of SB Nation’s Sactown Royalty. Right now, there is not a lot of trust or love between the Maloofs and the city they tried to ditch. Fans have questions about if the Maloofs have enough money to be viable NBA owners — Stern said they do — and their commitment to making this work. The Maloofs told Stern they would try. Even so the NBA sends in people to make sure this gets a fair shake.
Two other interesting comments from Stern.
One came when he asked what was different about Sacramento than Seattle, another failed mid-sized market that could not keep an NBA team.
Stern talked about “hostility” from the Seattle mayor and a lack of the state legislature to help out in any way. With Sacramento both the mayor and local state senator are leading the charge to keep the team.
“Night and day,” Stern said.
Secondly, he had to tie the collective bargaining agreement into the Kings plans.
Stern said that an agreement needs to be in place with the players that allows a market like Sacramento to be competitive. Which they were a decade ago under this basic economic agreement, but whatever, we get the idea. But his point about fairness ties back to revenue sharing as well — if the Kings are making $11 million a year on their local television deal and the Lakers near $200 million, then without revenue sharing (teams currently do not share local television dollars) then everything else basically will be moot.