A former NBA point guard, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson knows quite a bit about the inner workings of an NBA team as well as the politics that surround both the NBA and city government.
On Friday, Johnson used that knowledge to his advantage.
The NBA Board of Governors granted an extension to the owners of the Sacramento Kings, Joe and Gavin Maloof, until May 2 to file their relocation papers to the city of Anaheim.
The Board of Governors had been meeting with city officials from both Sacramento and Anaheim over the last two days, and Mayor Johnson convinced the Board of Governors that additional revenue streams had been discovered and that the city of Sacramento did indeed have interest in building a new arena for the Kings.
The Maloof brothers originally had until Monday to file their relocation papers until the recent extension.
It certainly looks like an 11th hour reprieve, but will the extra time actually save the Kings from a possible relocation?
We will examine five possible motives as to why the 11th hour extension was granted.
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In a statement made on Friday, NBA commissioner David Stern indicated that the NBA wanted to exhaust all options before allowing the relocation of the Sacramento Kings.
“The mayor’s vision...we don’t know if it’s real or pie-in-the-sky but we’ll knock ourselves out finding over the next few weeks,” Stern told the Los Angeles Times. “...This is very building-focused.”
Stern was referring to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and his revelation that an additional $9 million had been raised in season-ticket sales and sponsorships for next season.
However, there is also the news that Ron Burkle, a Los Angeles-based billionaire who originally made his mark in chain grocery stores and retail, has made a bid to purchase the Sacramento Kings.
Burkle, who is also part-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, has promised to keep the team in Sacramento and will back a proposed downtown arena in the city.
While the Maloof brothers have indicated they are not interested in selling the team, it appears that the NBA and Stern's interest has been piqued.
According to USA Today, the value of the Sacramento Kings just three years ago was $350 million. That value has dropped to its current $293 million.
With the interest given by Ron Burkle to purchase the team and provide new revenue streams with a new downtown arena, it's entirely possible that the Maloof brothers could be stringing both the city of Sacramento and the NBA along, just to up the ante for a possible sale.
With the proposal of the Sacramento Kings to move to Anaheim, City of Anaheim officials have stated that $25 million in improvements to the Honda Center were passed as part of a $75 million bond package.
The NBA has asked for more details regarding the improvements to be undertaken to the arena, and have requested more details regarding guaranteed television revenue.
While Honda Center president Henry Samueli declined comment on the matter Friday, NBA commissioner David Stern said that the NBA was looking for specifics in how the upgrades at the Honda Center would “enhance the fan experience at the building.”
Um, the city of Anaheim has already laid out detailed plans before. This has been going on for months, and it's not like Stern and the NBA didn't have prior knowledge of the inner workings of the potential move to the Honda Center.
With the farce that was the move of the Seattle Supersonics franchise to Oklahoma City for the 2008-09 season, the last thing that the NBA and David Stern want right now is a protracted fight between two cities for the rights to a franchise.
However, with that being said, does anyone else find it a little bit more than odd that the person heading up the NBA Relocation Committee is none other than Clay Bennett, the owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder who spearheaded the move in the first place?
The NBA was embarrassed by that particular move. Why in the world would they put the man who orchestrated the move in that position?
With the potential of an upcoming NBA lockout, the league would rather put the focus on an outside issue.
Yeah, it's a stretch, but no doubt David Stern would love nothing more than to keep the ongoing NBA dispute off the front pages.
What better than to have a Mickey Mouse/Disneyland scenario to do just that?