The Kings relocation saga is the story of the century in Sacramento. It has more legs than a millipede and a longer narrative than War and Peace. It is both a dream to cover and an emotional drain. And trust me, we are knee deep into this thing.
As we sift through sources and contacts trying to build a knowledge base on this story, I was asked a question about what the NBA would do in this situation by an acquaintance in Seattle. The question stopped me in my tracks.
“They wouldn’t just take the highest bidder?”
My first instinct was to break my phone or maybe delete the contact. But then it hit me – there is a world outside of Sacramento and it has no idea what this city has done to save the Kings.
You can watch “Small Market, Big Heart” to get some perspective, but that is someone else’s story playing out in movie form.
You could also surf through the last two years of coverage we’ve had here at Cowbell Kingdom or go to the Sacramento Bee archives. But again, who has the time?
Needless to say, there has been a fight to keep the team in Sacramento. The fight has been epic. There are heroes and villains and everything in between. It is Hollywood, it is gut wrenching and it is far from over.
So no, the NBA shouldn’t just accept the highest bidder. This is about the fabric of a real-life community. It is about righting too many wrongs. It is about tipping your hat to the better man. You know? The guy who did nothing wrong and everything right.
So while the folks in Seattle want a team badly, this isn’t the right team to take.
The fans in Seattle deserve a team. Sacramento would fight alongside you to make that happen, but running up the price again and again in an attempt to outbid Kevin Johnson’s buyers is just bad form.
You will get your team Seattle. It might take a few years, but you will get an expansion team to put in your shiny new building with your billionaire owners.
Better yet, you will get a team that is fresh and new. A team that is guilt free and with players that you can embrace as your own – not the residuals of a long lost Sacramento franchise.
Waiting is hard, but you have the right ownership group that is ready to do what it takes to bring basketball back to the Emerald City. But there should be a line between doing what it takes and doing what is right.
So let me propose a solution that seems so basic on its face. Let’s work together. Let’s find a resolution for everyone involved.
There is an ownership group that needs to be replaced. Chris Hansen and his team have allowed the price to get out of hand only because they are hungry.
$500 million is outrageous. So is $525 million or $600 million. You are playing into the hands of a defunct ownership group that has spread enough ill will throughout the country that they may want to find a new place to live.
The price for NBA expansion last time around was $300 million. If we take that $300 million and the $500 million offered to purchase the Kings and combine them, we come up with $800 million or $400 million for each city.
That is my proposal. Present a shared front to the NBA. Put away the price gun and present an alternative where everyone wins.
Seattle gets the Sonics back through expansion. Sacramento saves their Kings with a new ownership group. The NBA rids itself of the Maloof family, gets paid back the millions they are owed and takes in another $300 million to share among fellow owners.
Wrongs are righted. Wrongs are avoided. It is a win, win, win.
David Stern is retiring in a little over a year. He has an opportunity to cement his legacy as perhaps the greatest commissioner in sports history. He can walk away with a clean conscience and a league that is as healthy as it’s ever been.
Small markets will live to fight another day. Large markets will get another breadwinner. Fresh billionaires will enter the league hungry to make their teams better. The NBA Players Association gets another 14 players earning wages.
Victory can be found in compromise. Stop with the posturing and the 24-hour news cycle that is doing irreparable harm to the NBA.
Let everyone win this time.