Sacramento business leaders are asking NBA Commissioner David Stern and league owners to "strongly encourage" the Maloof family to sell the Kings so a deal for a new arena can proceed.In a letter signed by about two dozen of Sacramento's most powerful businesses leaders and sent to Stern on Thursday, the group accuses Kings owners Joe, Gavin and George Maloof of not negotiating in good faith. It also questions whether the Maloofs have the finances - and motivation - to keep the team in Sacramento."We feel it is time for the Maloofs to sell their ownership of the franchise, for the good of the city and in the interest of advancing Sacramento's effort to build a downtown arena," a portion of the letter reads. "The city, the fans and the NBA deserve and require an ownership group that is fully committed to being a good-faith constructive participant in the arena process."And we deserve an ownership group that is not only committed to the long-term viability of the franchise in this region but also one that has the wherewithal to make it a thriving, competitive organization."The timing of the letter was no accident.The Maloofs were giving an update on the project to the NBA Board of Governors during its annual spring meeting in New York. It was exactly a year ago when Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and the city's business leaders convinced owners - along with presenting more than 10 million of new sponsorship and ticket sales for this season - at the same Manhattan hotel to keep the Kings in Sacramento instead of moving to Anaheim, Calif.Family spokesman Eric Rose said the Maloofs are "saddened and disappointed" by the letter. He said the Maloofs are not selling the team and are committed to help fund the estimated 391 million arena, which would open for the 2015-16 season, pending final approval of the non-binding agreement the City Council already passed."We share in the community's frustration on forging a workable agreement on what is ultimately a 400 million transaction that will impact the region for many years to come," Rose said in a statement. "However, we must all remember what is at stake in the development of a new arena in Sacramento, and must insure the agreement works for all parties involved, and most importantly, the residents of the City."Sacramento's place on the NBA map seemed secured only a few weeks ago.Under the non-binding term sheet, Sacramento will contribute 255.5 million, mostly by leasing out parking garages around the facility. The Kings agreed to pay 73.25 million and arena operator AEG will contribute 58.75 million. The remaining gap will be covered by a ticket surcharge, advertising around the facility, the sale of public lands and a sponsorship campaign to sell bricks and plaques around the complex.The biggest sticking point has been a dispute over environmental and predevelopment costs.Under the term sheet, the Kings and arena operator AEG each were to pay about 3.25 million in pre-development costs with the city paying the remaining 6.5 million. George Maloof said in a phone interview that he does not believe the team should pay 3.25 million in pre-development costs because they're "playing the role of the tenant."The NBA, which helped broker the deal, agreed to pay about 200,000 to cover the initial costs and keep the project on schedule. Whether the rest will be covered - and who will cover it - was among the items expected to be discussed this week in New York during two days of meetings, which end Friday.Sacramento city officials are not attending the meetings. Johnson has said the city has done its part and it's up to the Kings and the NBA to resolve the issue.
Some professional athletes take a stand by kneeling on the sidelines or raising a fist into the air. Some write succinct tweets expressing their dismay with the current political climate in the United States of America. Others just get right to the point with a poignant off the cuff statement to a waiting camera.
Former Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins has certainly mastered the art of the cryptic tweet, but he’s also never been one to shy away from a direct question when asked. When an inquiry was thrown his direction about confederate statues in New Orleans and his home state of Alabama, Cousins was brief with his words, but very clear.
"Take all them mother****ers down," Cousins told TMZ while navigating a security line at the airport. "Take 'em all down.”
Cousins may not have chosen the most eloquent words, but his point of view is shared by plenty of others. He isn’t the first athlete to take a stand with regards to race in America over the last week as racial tensions have spilled out into the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia. Social media is filled with professional athletes adding their thoughts to the conversation.
The Warriors’ Kevin Durant has made it clear that he will not visit the White House and President Donald Trump, a visit most teams make following an NBA championship.
"Nah, I won't do that," the 8-time All-Star told ESPN on Thursday. "I don't respect who's in office right now.”
"I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that,” Durant continued. “That's just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me."
Garrett Temple has used Twitter to make his thoughts known as well. Recently named the Kings’ Players Voice Teammate of the Year by the National Basketball Players Association, Temple has used his position as an NBA player to speak out multiple times.
Over the last week, he’s fielded questions and had plenty of discussions through social media on the issues of race and equality. His Twitter timeline is littered with thoughtful replies and some not so thoughtful ideas as well. Plenty of fans thanking him for using his position to further the conversation and of course, there is the occasional, “stick to sports” comment.
Agree or disagree, today’s athletes have huge platforms to share their opinions. From Cousins to Temple, there are varying degrees of engagement, but the time of players staying out of the discussion is long gone.
Gavin and Joe Maloof have gambled plenty in their lives, which is in part how they ended up losing the Sacramento Kings. They ran big, they hit a dry well, and they ended up selling the works.
So their decision to bet $880,000 on Floyd Mayweather in his “thing” with Conor McGregor for a $160,000 payout seemed the perfectly daft idea for two guys who were painted as perfectly daft when they were running the Kings and their other businesses into a freeway abutment on I-80.
In fairness, they are planning to donate their winnings to a number of charities in the name of their hangover drink (Never Too Hungover, although I might have gone with the more lyrical HurlNoMore), so it’s not like their hearts aren’t a place close to the mythical “right place.”
But it does beg the question, “Why don’t they just give $160,000 and skip the scam?” Because it wasn’t about charity, it was about promotion, and while there’s nothing wrong with promotion, attaching it to one of the seediest carnival events of the modern era makes it seem, well, kind of creepy.
Or maybe “creepy” is too strong. Maybe’s it’s just opportunism, which is more, well, Vegas-y.
Kings fans will remember the Maloofs as the family that saved the foundering team from the clutches of owner Jim Thomas, and then remember them as the family whose clutches Vivek Ranadive had to save the team from 15 years later. It’s the nature of most ownerships – you do good to eliminate a prior evil, and eventually become evil yourselves when the fans turn on you.
But the Maloofs aren’t evil – even their most strident critics will say that. They just saw an opportunity to scratch a bunch of itches at once – good-heartedness, advertising, gambling and Vegas’ most important product – selling you things you could never imagine wanting.
It almost makes you wonder if they harbor a secret itch to take the $160,000 and double down on behalf of the charities for another of their pet projects – the Vegas Golden Knights. If they put it on the Knights to win the Stanley Cup at 200-1, that’s $32,000,000. Then if they took that and . . .
. . . and before you know it, they’re trapped in the fantasyland of Las Vegas at its weirdest. Maybe it’s just performance art with more money than most of us can eat.