Ratto: Kings fans can thank Lakers owner

May 2, 2011, 6:41 pm
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We presume now that Sacramento is allowed to keep its basketball team that it will do the polite thing and send a nice fruit basket to Jerry Buss in Los Angeles.

Yeah, yeah. The Laker guy. Hes the one you thank.

It may be romantic to think that everyone was sold on Sacramentos fervent love for the Kings. It may be good real estate policy to think that this will provide the impetus for a new arena, presumably at public cost.

But thats not the way things work, ever. Seattle lost the SuperSonics because Clay Bennett didnt have enough opposition to his plan to move to Oklahoma City, come hell or high water. Oh, there was Mark Cuban, but who listens to him? Certainly not his partners.

There was, however, plenty of resistance to the Maloof Brothers' plan to find their bliss in Disneyland, and it began with Jerry Buss, who simply didnt want the television audience for his LakerTV network to be splintered further by the addition of a third Southern California team.

There were impressions all along that Buss had gotten the votes he needed to beat back the Kings, and the reports that the Kings were staying in Sacramento were at least two weeks old before they were confirmed.

It also helps that leagues like to look distressed when they enter into labor negotiations, and the Kings in Sacramento looked more threadbare than the Royals in Anaheim.

Do the Kings need a new arena? No. Does Sacramento need one? Thats up to the citizens who would be asked to pay for it. Money, as you might have heard, is kind of tight these days.

But when Gavin Maloof was asked if there was any unhappiness with the Lakers role in foiling their escape plan, he didnt answer for a good 10 seconds before saying he wanted to focus instead on Sacramento and its fans.

Thats code for, Were only staying because of them. And its true. Leagues are not just amalgamations of franchises. They are political organizations, with political figures running them. Buss played politics with his fellow owners, and David Stern didnt get in his way. Thats a tough pair to beat.

Sacramentos future remains cloudy in the longer term, and no, dont start in with the Bay Area again. Joe Lacob paid twice the value of the Warriors to own the Warriors, and if the league can screw one guy so eager to buy a team, the act of screwing him would dampen the resale market for other teams. San Jose, in short, is closed until the politics change.

But if it helps, Jerry Buss wouldnt mind the Kings going there.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.