You have to hand it to both the Maloof family and the city of Sacramento. For two entities without enough money to achieve their dreams, theyre playing their cards like they do.
Thats the center of the crudstorm the two sides are creating for each other as they pursue their mutual goals freedom from Sacramento for the Maloofs, and freedom from the Maloofs for Sacramento. And the kids, er, Kings get caught in the middle.
Isnt that always the way when nobodys got enough jack to make it work?
As such, there are no heroes here. Not even David Stern, who tried to help midwife a deal he must have known was a pipedream. He ended up getting slapped by the Maloofs, who may be cash-poor and getting cash-poorer, but are still one-thirtieth of his supervisors, and a commissioner who picks a fight with an owner is an ex-commissioner who hasnt got his new business cards printed yet.
The Maloofs certainly arent. They cant hold the Kings, no matter what, because their other businesses are cratering, and their selling price obviously goes up if the buyer has the power to come and go as they like. They need a new arena lease in Sacramento like they need a new bank statement.
So why did they do the dance with Sacramento then? So as to minimize their public opprobrium, which lasted only a few days anyway because fans still believe after all this time that their favorite teams are theirs because they have been bought with love and tickets.
Somewhere, the Easter Bunny is laughing his head off.
But there is plenty of blame for Sacramento as well, for cobbling a deal that its revenues could not realistically support, all in chasing a sports dream. But worse, for announcing what a good job theyd done even before it had begun. Why Kevin Johnson thought a press conference was a good idea when he had exactly zero signatures is a level of madness that beggars the imagination.
But he did it because he (a) wanted voters to like him, and (b) wanted to box the Maloofs into a corner by getting them to the presser. Well, adulation talks, but money still walks, and the Maloofs are short-timers trying to cash out as quickly and as lucratively as possible.
Or you could look at it another way. They sped up the process that went on Seattle from years to days, as in We want to stay and play in our city, but you have to build us an arena and you didnt so were going where we wanted to go anyway. There are differences in nuance between Clay Bennetts transformation of the SuperSonics into the Thunder and what happens to the Kings, most notably that Bennett has money and the Maloofs do not, but they are essentially the same thing, namely this:
Dont just show us the money. Give us the money. But since we know you cant, weve already booked office space somewhere else.
In short, the Maloofs succeeded by failing, and Sacramento failed by pretending to succeed. The fans get hosed because it was preordained for them to get hosed. The game, you see, is rigged, for as long as there are other markets to colonize.
And there is a lesson in all this for those people following the As saga. The problems with that move arent procedural, either, no matter how many ways people try to blame Bud Selig or the blue-ribbon panel or the Giants or Jerry Reinsdorf. Theyre all players, but the play is still all monetary, and always has been. They are about leverage and resale value, not about baseball and commissioners.
In the meantime, people in the city want the Maloofs out, as in appealing to Stern to strip the Maloofs of their team, which is an idea so idiotic that its proponents should be locked in dumpsters.
And the Maloofs want the mayor out of negotiations, which is equally moronic and requires only the rental of more dumpsters.
You cant make this stuff up, except that its the only way this could have gone. Its what happens when big hats notice that nobody brought the cattle.