Mar 24, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings fans hold signs during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Fight For The Kings Wasn't Yours To Lose Seattle, It Was Sacramento's


There’s been this spin out there ever since the Hansen-Ballmer group came to terms with the Maloof family on a purchase of the Sacramento Kings franchise, that this was Seattle’s battle to win.

Why that was ever suggested, I don’t know, but if you’ve ever looked into how the NBA has handled relocation situations before, it’s done by the book. The incumbent city must do something to lose their team and Sacramento refused to bow out, no matter how dimly lit the light was.

Maybe it was some of the National media who promoted that thought – maybe it was some of the Seattle media – more likely it was a combination of both, but the NBA never budged on their morals, odd as that might be to say.

Just as this wasn’t Seattle’s fight to win, it wasn’t Seattle’s fight to lose. The Hansen-Ballmer group despite having a signed and sealed purchase agreement was never in the drivers seat like many suggested, but it wasn’t Seattle’s fault. Make no mistake, the Hansen-Ballmer group is a very unique and special group – a type of group that the NBA wants to add to their Billionaire Boys club and in my personal opinion will eventually, assuming no bridges are burnt – but back to the point. Seattle came to the bargaining table with a wonderful deal and while maybe not flawless, it certainly was a deal that in most scenarios would be enough to swing the pendulum in their favor. However, for the Hansen-Ballmer group – they ran into a buzz saw of passion and desire they couldn’t overcome.

What Sacramento did was incredible, across the board. From the investment group to fan support, it was something we’ve honestly never really seen before – not at this level. Nobody outside of the Kingdom thought Sacramento could do it, but you can never underestimate the amount of fight in a dog when its back is pushed against the wall.

Seattle didn’t lose out on winning the Kings. They have nothing to hang their heads about, despite their current and obvious disappointment. They fought and fought hard – a fight that most likely in another city they win. Rarely do you see a city step up to the plate like Sacramento did. The NBA did their best to poke holes in Sacramento’s bid to keep the Kings – some may say they did that on purpose to assist the new potential Kings ownership group (and that’s a topic for a different day) in putting together winning formula – but every question the NBA had, Sacramento had an answer for.

Since the start, this was Sacramento’s battle to lose – it was never Seattle’s to win. That’s not my opinion, that’s the NBA’s bible. It’s how they operate as we’ve seen it before. However, in almost all other previous scenarios, there was a problem with the incumbent city. Maybe it was an inability to get an arena plan in place, perhaps it was a financially crumbling franchise who couldn’t garner enough fan support. Whatever the case might have been, the NBA had reason to look elsewhere but with every glance the NBA took towards Seattle, Sacramento stepped up and displayed their ability to do it just as well. I know that’s certainly not something Seattle fans want to hear right now, especially after the continued hype for Seattle – especially early in this race, but the momentum began to snowball and there was no stopping it.

In the end, Seattle couldn’t have done much else – and that’s the hard part for Seattle to swallow. Seattle should be commended for the fight they put up. They gave it everything they had but it still wasn’t good enough for the NBA who had already backhanded them once – a feeling I can’t even imagine.

Unfortunately, early in this saga, so many were told that this was Seattle’s fight to lose, but those people were wrong – this was Sacramento’s fight to lose and they refused.

Most cities would’ve lost this battle.

But most cities aren’t Sacramento.

Tags: Relocation Sacramento Kings Seattle Sonics

  • KidTnT

    Congrats Sacramento. Congrats. You
    folks sincerely deserve to keep the Kings and, truth be told, this is the type
    of decision the NBA should have made in past situations. Frankly, as a Seattleite
    and Sonics fan, I had mixed emotions, to say the least, about Seattle acquiring
    the Kings at Sacramento’s expense. I had no desire to put Sacramento and their
    top notch fan base through the type of greed based mistreatment that the NBA
    regularly doles out. The only aspect about Hansen’s approach that remotely
    justified the theft was that there were no illusions sold to the Sacramento
    populace that the King’s were to remain in Sacramento following the sale.
    Hansen was up front and honest with his intentions and Sacramento can be
    thankful he was as it allowed the city officials and fan base to rally in time
    to save the Kings. Had Chris Hansen simply purchased the team, a la Clay
    Bennet, under the guise of wanting to buy any NBA team strictly based on a
    desire to own a team and not to move it per se, Sacramento wouldn’t have had
    the opportunity to have rallied the fan base and save the franchise for Sac
    Town. Don’t delude yourselves into believing that you’d have had the singleness
    of purpose in opposing Hansen’s bid had he not been honest and, furthermore,
    don’t waste a second believing that the NBA would’ve denied the request to
    relocate from a new ownership under Hansen post sale.

    Seattle had not been provided the
    same transparency that Hansen’s gave Sacramento as Clay Bennet lied….LIED…
    to Seattle while pilfering the team. Had Hansen done the same, you’d be
    watching your King’s head out on I-5N bound for Seattle. Please don’t forget that
    important chapter in this tale, because while I’m congratulating you now, it
    won’t be too long before I’m offering my sympathies for the further
    exploitation that your newly reestablished relationship with the NBA will
    surely bring.

    David Stern claimed he had no
    intentions of starting a bidding war; however, that was exactly what he’d hoped
    for. Perhaps he just didn’t imagine one would occur. That will count as the first effort to
    further deceive Sacramento while squeezing more money out of the community
    while renewing Sac Town’s membership in the NBA. There undoubtedly will be
    countless more before the NBA decides that Sacramento is “tapped out” and bolts
    for greener pastures or a more naïve locale.

    The NBA will continue its decline
    into irrelevance as the world closes the gap, surpasses, and extends a lead in
    putting the best quality basketball on the court. The continued ham handed manipulation
    of loyal fan bases to fund the spiraling costs of a product no longer capable
    of claiming to be best in the world seems short sighted. But by disregarding the loyalties of those
    who provide that revenue will only accelerate this deterioration.

    The value of an NBA franchise,
    while increasing based on the inflated price of this sale, has begun a free
    fall precipitated by this continued practice of mistreating world class
    metropolitan communities like Seattle.
    The killing of one more of the dwindling stock of golden geese. How many
    communities can and will fully support the escalating demands of a NBA
    franchise in the world today? Certainly one less than there was yesterday.

  • Run

    Sacramento hasn’t “won” anything yet!

    Neither the sale nor the relocation have been formally voted on.

    Sure, the NBA Finance and Relocation Committee (FRC) was publicized as having voted unanimously to recommend that relocation not be approved, but there are three jumps being made right there.

    First, nobody should believe for one second that the vote was even close to unanimous. If it were, the vote would have come on time; the fact that it didn’t suggests that there was dissention amongst the FRC’s members.

    Secondly, the FRC is just seven people, none of whom are needed for Seattle to win relocation. All Seattle needs is 16 of the remaining 23 votes.

    Anyone who assumes that the FRC’s recommendation compels the BoG to vote yae or nae is sadly mostaken. It would be an even bigger mistake to assume that no FRC members can change their votes.

    Finally, you must consider the ramifications of a near-even FRC stance. What if the FRC’s vote was actually 4-3, and Stern simply lied to the public. That means Seattle and Sacramento are still on even ground heading into the BoG vote.

    This situation is one in which votes will swing back and forth until all levers are pulled. A lawsuit accusing KJ and the City of Sacramento of misappropriating funds is pending, and Sacramento has neither the money to pay for the arena not the ability to meet the nba’s desired construction timeline.

    Then there’s the very real prospect of lawsuits by the city of Seattle, the Maloofs and even ArenaCo for antitrust and civil RICO.

    Seattle is taking a scorched-Earth approach to this, because we will not let David Stern burn us again. I say Mr. Stern doesn’t get to control this outcome…prepare for some surprises.