The Sacramento Kings haven’t been to the postseason since 2006, but the NBA relocation committee’s decision yesterday on April 29 could be the city’s most important win since the fifth game of the 2002 Western Conference Finals, when Mike Bibby sank the game-winning shot against the defending-champion Los Angles Lakers.
The relocation committee unanimously recommended that the Kings stay in Sacramento by a vote of 7-0. With the Kings set to stay, fans feel like they’re bringing home the championship trophy, but the fight isn’t over yet.
The NBA Board of Governors is scheduled to vote on the sale of the Kings to Chris Hansen’s Seattle group on May 15. Amid the celebration with fans, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said at yesterday’s press conference that his job isn’t done:
I feel like we have won a round in the playoffs. … There is still work to be done. We do not want to dance in the end zone.
NBA Commissioner David Stern also spoke about the committee’s decision:
I didn’t see a unanimous vote coming but they decided as strong as the Seattle bid was, and it was very strong, there’s some benefit that should be given to a city that has supported us for so long, and has stepped up to contribute to build a new building as well.
After Sacramento and Seattle gave their pitches for the Kings to the NBA’s relocation and finance committees, Sacramento has come out on top after Johnson scrambled to bring a deal to the table.
Johnson put together an investment group headed by software mogul and Golden State Warriors minority owner Vivek Ranadivé that also includes 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and members of the Jacobs family that founded Qualcomm.
The news broke on January 9 that the Maloof family was selling the team to Chris Hansen’s group in Seattle, planning to bring back the Seattle SuperSonics, with the franchise’s price set at $525 million. Hansen added $25 million to the deal on April 12, bringing the Kings’ overall value to $550 million.
Hansen plans to make another pitch at the next month’s meeting that could be a last ditch effort for Seattle:
While we are disappointed with the relocation committee’s recommendation, we just wanted to let you all know that we remain fully committed to seeing this transaction through. … we plan to unequivocally state our case for both relocation and our plan to move forward with the transaction to the league and owners at the upcoming Board of Governor’s Meeting in Mid-May.
In the ongoing Kings’ relocation saga nothing can be set in stone, but it looks like there’s finally a clear leader in the Kings sweepstakes and the city of Sacramento is on the verge of keeping its team.