UPDATE, MARCH 30, 8:22 A.M.: The Anaheim City Council last night unanimously approved the $75 million bond-lease deal to put the NBA's Kings in the Honda Center.
Meanwhile, the Sacramento City Council has moved beyond grief to the anger stage: Cap city leaders last nght discussed possible litigation against the Maloof brothers to keep the Kings.
Speaking of anger, check out this email yours truly received from a Mr. Spencer Hall . . .
How many times has Orange County filed for Bankruptcy?
You should answer that question publicly before you call Sacramento, your own CAPITAL, a 'cowtown'; you little insidious creep. You are a disgrace to journalism and an embarrassment for the second rate publishing company that has the unfortunate title of being the parent to this worthless site. I hope your tap water comes from the LA river and your food, well…
Thanks, Spence. I'll make that an LA River Roadkill Royale with Cheese in honor of our new NBA team.
UPDATE, MARCH 29, 9:42 A.M.: As Anaheim City Council members headed into tonight's special meeting to consider a $75 million bond-lease deal to put the NBA's Kings in the Honda Center, they were lobbied hard against the deal by Sacramento fans and, especially, Cowtown's assistant city manager.
John Danberg's message (essentially): Don't trust the Maloof brothers because the Kings' owners are deadbeats.
The Maloofs' comeback (essentially) Shut your piehole, Danberg!
Danberg claims in the letter a Kings move will cause the franchise to default on $77 million in loan payments owed to Sacramento. For that reason, he urged Anaheim leaders to stop negotiating with the team lest the Orange County city find itself in the same predicament. Sacramento is also seeking state legislation to stop the Kings' talks with Anaheim until the loan issue is resolved.
Calling Danberg's missive “an awful letter,” Kings co-owner George Maloof warned Sacramento against “interfering with our business,” saying the owners take their business “very seriously.”
He added the Kings have not missed a payment to Sacramento, telling the Sacramento Bee, “We have no intention of leaving that town without paying our debt. For someone to imply that we are not going to pay our debts, it's wrong, it's ridiculous.”
The deal the Anaheim council is looking at tonight calls for $50 million in bonds to be used for relocation costs and $25 million to renovate the Honda Center. The city claims taxpayer funds will not be put at risk, as increased Honda Center revenues will pay back the bonds.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers are looking at a deal of their own–and not liking what they are seeing. ESPN.com reports the team's recent $3 billion, 20-year deal with Time Warner Cable loses value if the Kings move to Anaheim. Estimates put that loss at 10 percent, although it should also be noted the Lakers and Time Warner deny the deal's pricetag was $3 billion.
UPDATE, MARCH 24, 11:18 A.M.: “It feels like a slow death,” Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson begins his latest blog post.
He goes on to thank the fans and groups fighting to keep the Kings, saying his heart is with him. But his head “wants this painful drama to end.”
KJ is obviously ready to move on and, with a town committed to pro sports, prove to the NBA it deserves another franchise.
UPDATE, FEB. 25, 3:39 P.M.: Although Phil Jackson is the only one to go public with his opposition to the Sacramento Kings moving to Anaheim (scroll down to last post), there has been a lot of talk about the Los Angeles Lakers franchise working behind-the-scenes to stop a SoCal relocation to protect the market share Showtime shares with Blake Griffin's J.V. squad.
But at least one NBA observer argues the Kings darkening the Honda Center is good for the Lakers and the Clippers.
Take it away, Dexter Fishmore, the Lakers blogger for SB Nation Los Angeles:
The move, if it happens, will make Southern California the unquestioned hoops capitol of the world. Anchored by the Lakers, the league's flagship brand, a full 10 percent of the NBA would have a SoCal address. Locals would relish seeing some of the most electric young talent in the game–Blake Griffin, Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins–-grow up in close proximity. In a few seasons, after the Clippers' and Kings' youngsters have had time to develop and coalesce, three of the eight teams in the Western Conference playoffs could hail from these parts. And think of the buzz and energy if two of the three are ever contenders at the same time. Think back to the Lakers' and Kings' legendary conference finals series in 2002, and imagine what that would've been like if the teams were just down the road from one another. Throw in an A-list college program at UCLA and vibrant prep and pick-up scenes, and SoCal's gravitational pull on the basketball world would be unmatched.
[H]aving the Kings in the neighborhood could actually benefit both the Lakers and Clips by converting two road games a year into de facto home games. Instead of flying up to Sacramento twice per season, they'd need only cruise down the I-5 to Anaheim. And when they arrived, they'd find a much friendlier crowd than they would at ARCO. This holds especially true for the Lakers, who dominate the mindshare of local basketball fans. Until the Kings earn the affections of an organically grown, Orange County fanbase–a process that will take years, if not decades–the Lakers will feel at home and much-loved when they visit the Honda Center.
Considering how long it would take the Anaheim Kings to reach contender status, the Lakers would continue to be loved in Orange County for years to come.
As Fishmore puts it, “People don't forego buying Chateau Lafite just because Ralphs has a special on Heineken 12-packs.”
UPDATE, FEB. 24, 11:47 A.M.: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson confirmed to local reporters that buzz about the town's Kings NBA team possibly moving to Anaheim "are more than rumors.”
League Commissioner David Stern informed Johnson before the All-Star break that the Sacramento franchise's owners, Joe and Gavin Maloof, are in serious negotiations with Anaheim officials to come south. Not that there is anything former NBA point guard Johnson can do about it. "As a city, we can only control what we can control,” he told reporters.
So, what's Johnson's answer to keeping the Kings in Sacto? Buy home-game tickets, merchandise and anything else to support one of the league's worst teams.
Oh, and everyone get behind a new arena fit for the Kings.
"Sacramento used to have the best fans in the NBA,” says Johnson, who hails from the city's predominantly African-American Oak Park community and went on to star at Cal and, after one brief season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Phoenix Suns.
"David Stern has said repeatedly he loves the Sacramento market,” observed Johnson, who added the NBA's chief executive identified the franchise's current problem being "a half dozen failed attempts” over the past 10 to 12 years to build the Kings a new arena.
Other small markets are also dealing with this, as owners staring into a possible player lockout see more revenues generated from state-of-the-art facilities as a way to remain economically viable, Johnson explained.
He said the Maloofs would be looking at Sacramento differently if the city had a new arena in place that was named after a generous corporate sponsor.
You know, like Anaheim's Honda Center.
To keep the NBA in town, the Sacramento community must share that new arena vision. Unfortunately, the Maloofs are running out of time. If they choose to have their team play somewhere other than Sacramento next season, they must inform the NBA by March 1–although there are reports this morning the bros may seek a relocation extension through the end of the season.
"They are business people, and they have to make a decision on what is best for their business,” Johnson said. "Hopefully, staying in Sacramento will make the most sense.”
Count Phil Jackson among those who seconds that emotion.
"I think we'd like to see them stay there,” said the Lakers coach who was famously serenaded with cow bells by fans at Arco Arena after he complained Sacramento is a "cow town.”
Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Jackson conceded Los Angeles is not a "saturated town” because it still lacks a pro football team, but he said three NBA teams in Southern California would be "a little bit overdoing it.”
Many NBA observers believe the owners of the Lakers and LA Clippers are working behind-the-scenes to stop a Kings move to Anaheim out of fears an Orange County team would slice into their financial pie.
Both LA teams would get a small share of a relocation fee paid by the Kings' owners, but it wouldn't be as financially sound as maintaining an absolute grip on sales of pro basketball tickets and merchandise in the region, the Times reports.
ORIGINAL POST, FEB. 21, 8:57 A.M.: It did not overshadow the Los Angeles Clippers' phenom Blake Griffin winning the slam-dunk contest by jumping over a car or LA Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant winning the All-Star game MVP award for a record-tying fourth time, but hot NBA news out of the Staples Center this past weekend did concern Orange County.
Commissioner David Stern confirmed rumors that the owners of the Sacramento Kings are in serious discussions to bring the team to Anaheim.
"I do know because I read in the newspapers that they are supposed to have had discussions with Orange County, and they have,” Stern told the Sacramento Bee. "I don't know whether they are ongoing. No one has told me that they have been tabled, and no one has told me that they are ongoing.”
Stern added he is "not driving it or making any recommendations, and we'll see how that goes.”
Kings' co-owner Joe Maloof has only confirmed on the record that the team is talking to other cities while Sacramento Mayor (and former NBA point guard) Kevin Johnson and business leaders try to keep the Kings in Cow Town. Voters there have repeatedly killed efforts to build the team a desired new arena.
Officials at the Honda Center are not squawking, but the professional-sports franchise whose owner also owns the building has expressed a desire to have the NHL's Anaheim Ducks share the space with an NBA team.
Such a move would give Southern California three NBA teams (yet still no pro-football franchise).