Aaron Bruski Doesn’t Disappoint: NBA, Maloofs, and Sacramento


Nov 5, 2012; NBA commissioner David Stern Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Bruski, writer for ProBasketballTalk, at NBC Sports, has the pulse of the Sacramento community and the keen objective perspective of someone on the outside looking in. In his most recent piece involving the situation between the NBA owners and the Maloofs and Sacramento, Bruski outlines the problems facing the NBA, if the current situation with the owners of the Sacramento Kings continues on the national stage.

The Maloofs as you recall are the owners of the Sacramento Kings, who balked at the Entertainment and Sports Complex (ESC) deal in Sacramento, claiming the deal wasn’t fair to them or Sacramento, earlier this year. The NBA was involved during the negotiating period, even offering to gift money on behalf of the owners so they would not have to offer any upfront money of their own.

Since then, the Maloofs have been in Virgina Beach, Virginia to be party to a sweetheart deal to build an arena, to relocate the franchise to a smaller market area. Again, no upfront money from them.

On the Maloof’s, Bruski has this to say:

"They need Sacramento or another city to give them a lopsided deal or they’re out, sooner rather than later. If they do nothing, they will run out of money in a Sacramento market they torched themselves, and if that doesn’t happen first then Sleep Train Arena eventually won’t meet NBA code and the game will be over."

Of course the good folks in Sacramento are understandably disappointed about the current state of affairs, given the hundreds of hours of time and resources they to put into the ESC deal, which was expected to revitalize downtown Sacramento, bringing jobs, world class entertainment venues, and much needed revenue to an area hit hard by the economy.

Only Lucy pulled the ball out from underneath Charlie Brown. 

Mayor Kevin Johnson and the City of Sacramento did everything they could do, the loyal fans of the Sacramento Kings did everything they could. In the meantime, the Kings have been off to a horrid season. Only sixteen games in and already any hope of making the NBA Playoffs has been dashed.

Fans who renewed their season tickets are having regrets, as attendance has been low, and the quality of play on the court less than advertised. The cost-saving measures taken in personnel are beginning to catch up. Fans are feeling helpless, with apathy setting in. The exhaustion from the emotional roller-coaster over the past year is taking its toll. People are feeling powerless.

Here is what Bruski has to say about Sacramento:

"For Sacramento, if the Kings are allowed to leave 30 years of public investments into the team will have all been for naught. Sure, there were great times and intangible benefits galore. The Kings will have spurred economic activity during that time, and contributions by the Maloofs and prior owners to local charities should not go unnoticed."

It is an untenable situation to be sure, but Bruski says what others either fear to say or simply don’t consider. He is putting the situation back at the feet of the NBA.

"It’s a compelling reason for David Stern to use the best interests of the league clause to get what he wants in this dilemma. Commissioners in other sports have pulled the trigger, and if explained correctly to the Maloofs’ fellow owners they’ll realize that indeed, it’s in their best interests."

Indeed, the objectives of the NBA is not separate from the owners. The actions of each owner reflects back on the NBA. What one owner does can adversely affect upon the league as a whole. Stern reminded Coach Gregg Popovich with sanctions, that the actions of one coach to send his players home for rest was not separate from having his star players make an appearance in a nationally televised game.

So, this reminds teams and fans the NBA still wields control. The actions of a coach can affect the league as a whole. It is an interconnected entity. So, what of the actions of the owners?

Bruski speaks to the revenue sharing the Maloof owners now enjoy:

"As for that revenue sharing, Stern alluded to the fact that the owners could always vote to change their mind about the Maloofs’ continued receipt of their share."

The Board of Governors could decide to strip the Maloof’s of their life preserver, without which they could drown in debt.

Bruski’s piece could have far-reaching implications for Sacramento. He reminds parties, the weight of this issue could fall upon the NBA’s shoulders. The ball is in their court, if they are not afraid to face the indirect threat of an antitrust suit should they begin to intercede. This could be a true test of the NBA’s mettle. Just how far are they willing to allow this situation to continue before it intercedes?

It is an important issue for Sacramento Kings fans and the City of Sacramento. Our hands are tied. But, if our voice can be heard, to implore the NBA to take some action, in the best interests of the league, perhaps there will be a favorable outcome for Sacramento.

Much respect to Aaron Bruski for writing this piece.