Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson Is Fighting To Keep Kings

Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson has until March 1 to propose a counteroffer in the hopes of keeping the Kings. (

Reports came out last week from Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo! Sports that the Sacramento Kings owners were nearing a deal to sell the team to Seattle. Wojnarowski again reported Monday the NBA relocation committee and the league had a conference call to mark out deal points for the move and sale.

BDD wrote back in September that Seattle was moving forward with an investor group and funding for a new arena with the hopes of again drawing an NBA franchise. Seattle deserves another team after what happened with the now Thunder, but what was Seattle's gain is Sacramento's loss.

It sure looks, or looked, like Seattle is the easy frontrunner for the Kings. That is, unless Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson doesn't ruin Seattle fans' dreams. Johnson said Tuesday that NBA Commissioner David Stern has given him permission to make a proposal and counter-offer, which could keep the Kings in Sacramento, by the March 1 deadline.

Johnson has twice before kept the Kings from leaving Sacramento, so he knows what it takes to keep a team, but this time it will be more difficult with another prominent bidder in the open. Johnson addressed this at a State of Downtown event Tuesday, mentioning successful efforts to keep the team in the past, saying, "We want this to be the final act of a saga that's gone on for far too long."

"We have a city and a community that have done every single thing that is required," Johnson said Tuesday. "I hope Seattle gets another team. They deserve another team. They didn't deserve to lose a team in the first place. It just won't be the Sacramento Kings if we have anything to do with it."

As a former NBA player, Johnson has the unique perspective combining the mindset of a professional athlete and that of a public servant. This allows him to see multiple sides of the issue, unlike the Kings' current ownership group, which has largely floundered about when it comes to making forward progress for the franchise and has seemed disinterested in continued ownership on multiple occasions.

That Johnson is once again attempting to retain his city's professional basketball team is no surprise, although his dedication should not have to be tested (again) solely because the whims of the Maloof family are swaying against Sacramento. The city and fans of Sacramento deserve better than the Maloofs have given them. If Sacramento does lose the Kings, there is only one place to point the fingers, and it won't be on Johnson.

The fans suffer most when a city loses a franchise, but it feels worse for fans to know the city didn't do all it could to keep it around. It may be a long shot, but Johnson fighting for the team gives the people of the city the comfort of knowing if the team leaves for Seattle, it wasn't for lack of trying.

Alex Skov contributed to this story

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