Things are dire in Sacramento.
Mayor Kevin Johnson (yes, that Kevin Johnson) said yesterday that the talk about the Kings moving to Anaheim was more than just rumors. Then today we learn that the Kings owners asked for, and likely will be granted (by a vote of the other owners), an extension past the March 1 deadline so they can continue to explore a move next to Disneyland. This is the NBA’s Statement:
“The Sacramento Kings have requested an extension of the March 1 deadline to give Kings ownership the opportunity to discuss their options with the Board of Governors at its April 14 – 15 meeting. The Board is currently considering the Kings’ request.”
They want to discuss their options with the other owners? Be afraid, Sacramento. This is picking up a lot of momentum. Anaheim has an NBA-ready building in the Honda Center. It’s a good building, a bit old and not as nice as Kansas City, for example.
But Anaheim comes with a massive, massive television market.
What Anaheim also has is a billionaire in Henry Samueli, the owner of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks and co-founders of Broadcom. He is worth an estimated $1.7 billion. The Maloofs have said however they would not be selling the team to Samueli nor accepting a loan from him.
We heard from a league official that if the Kings were to move they would not have to pay territorial rights fees to the Lakers and Clippers (which likely would have killed such a move). The NBA Board of Governors (the other owners) could vote to make the Kings pay fees to the two Los Angeles teams, but that is not likely.
Did we mention there is a lot of momentum here? And it sucks.
Sacramento fans have been good to the Maloofs. Look at it this way: Phil Jackson — who has inspired more hate from the people in Sacramento than any person who has not been governor — thinks the team needs to stay there.
There is a push called Here We Stay, backed by Tom Ziller, one of the best bloggers in the business with his Sactown Royalty, among many others in the city. They are trying to sell out an upcoming Kings game. Then boost attendance at the other dozen home games the Kings have this season. To show that despite the team’s play, despite the economy Sacramento backs the Kings. They really shouldn’t need to display that because they did it for more than a decade. The Maloofs know that.
But it’s about suites and television deals. It shouldn’t be, it should be about the game and loyal fan bases. But it’s always about the money.
It’s clear which way this thing is leaning. And it sucks for Sacramento. For Kings fans. For the NBA.