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2011 Sacramento Kings: How David Stern Is Responsible for the Maloof Debacle

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2011 Sacramento Kings: How David Stern Is Responsible for the Maloof Debacle
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

So I guess we’re supposed to thank them for this?

It now seems that the Kings will remain in Sacramento for another year. With yet another extension of the franchise's relocation deadline, and rumors coming out of the league office that the NBA expects the Kings to stay for one more season, there has been a torrent of media coverage on the Kings situation, what it says about the NBA, and how it can be fixed.

Well, not a torrent really. More of a trickle. Most of the country doesn’t care enough about the Kings to create a torrent, but for Sacramento, any level of national media attention can seem flood-like in its all-encompassing local enormity.

Some have blamed the NBA for not utilizing a hard salary cap and shorter guaranteed contracts. Some have blamed the city of Sacramento for not being able to get a new arena deal done. Some have blamed the Maloofs for hastily attempting to relocate their way out of a bad financial situation.

But really, at its simplest level, the basest element of the problem is obvious. The Maloofs are a joke. They are in over their heads, and it is becoming clearer by the day that they should never have been allowed to own a basketball team in the first place. They are vastly under qualified for their positions as team owners.

The answer to the NBA’s problem with the Kings is simple—don’t let people who know nothing about business or day-to-day basketball operations buy professional basketball franchises! It’s that easy.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
The Maloof family: great at spending money, not so great at making it

Instead of checking a potential owner's bank account, David Stern and the NBA should be checking their track records. Did they acquire wealth through building a business and hard work, or did they inherit it? If the answer is the latter, why would you realistically expect them to be able to run a basketball team?

The Maloofs are going broke owning and operating a casino. A casino! A place where people walk in and voluntarily hand you all the money they have! And sometimes more!

Should it be any surprise that they have found it difficult to own and operate an NBA franchise? Running a profitable pro sports team requires actual business savvy, a clear game plan and knowledge of the intricacies of the sports business world. The Maloofs have none of these.

For a moment at the beginning of their tenure in Sacramento, they walked ass-backwards into a functional, successful game plan, but that was more a product of timing and luck than it was attributable to them.

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes. The problem for Sacramento is that the blind squirrel found the nut, decided to hang onto it despite minimal knowledge of the nut market, let a community get attached to it, then slowly ran it into the ground spending millions and millions of dollars on it in an attempt to make up for their total lack of nut-related savvy.

I have lived in Sacramento my whole life. I have followed the Kings for just as long. I have watched the Maloofs' entire tenure as owners. I still have no idea what it is exactly they are good at or what they bring to the table besides a giant, oversized checkbook.

Nick Laham/Getty Images
This guy isn't the problem. The NBA letting anyone with a blank check own a team is the problem.

So here’s an idea for David Stern and his associates at the league office. If a millionaire or billionaire has no discernible skills, no insightful knowledge of the league or the game, and minimal business savvy, DO NOT LET THEM OWN A TEAM! Once they own a team, it becomes legally difficult for you to help them un-screw themselves.

If you are David Stern, you can’t turn James Dolan or the Maloofs into good owners once they have a team. Like everything in America, once you own it you can do what you please with it. But you can do a little bit of research, and not let them buy a team in the first place.

Judging by their track record, it is obvious that Joe and Gavin Maloof are affable guys who happen to be bad at business. I’m no analyst, but it seems like if the NBA had done a little homework on these guys before they bought the team, they probably would have seen some red flags indicating that maybe they weren’t ideal owners of a multi-million dollar franchise.

Keeping unqualified individuals from owning NBA teams won’t prevent bad teams from existing in the NBA. Mistakes will always be made, even by the smart guys.

Even in a world of ideal owners, someone will always overpay the Joe Johnsons of the world, and it is only natural in sports to have teams on top and some on the bottom. But bad teams and bad contracts aren’t the problem Sacramento is dealing with. The Kings' problems are much larger. They are dealing with insolvent, incompetent owners who are desperately seeking a way out of the hole they have dug for themselves.

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Though they may have destroyed an NBA franchise, this WNBA Championship makes it all worthwhile

The Hawks may regret Johnson’s contract for the next six years, but the Maloofs will kill the Kings, and continue to embarrass the NBA, for as long as they own them. Keeping unqualified individuals out of owners' boxes would prevent the cluster-screw that is the 2011-2012 Sacramento Kings.

The fact that the Kings record is bad is part of sports. The fact that they are currently humiliating the city of Sacramento, themselves and the NBA itself is the fault of the league.

There are only 30 teams in the NBA. How hard is it to find 30 owners who know a thing or two about business, basketball and general economics? I can’t believe it is as hard as the NBA makes it look.

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