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  • Jack Ohman / johman@sacbee.com

  • RENÉE C. BYER / rbyer@sacbee.com

    Mayor Kevin Johnson pumps a fist as he arrives at his news conference Tuesday. He is putting together an alternative to a Seattle deal to buy the Kings and plans to present it in April to the NBA board of governors in his drive to keep the team in Sacramento.

  • RENÉE C. BYER / rbyer@sacbee.com

    Fans David Gutierrez and Maria Davila attend the City Hall event.

  • RENÉE C. BYER / rbyer@sacbee.com

    Mayor Kevin Johnson, above, leads the applause for local business leaders who will each offer $1 million toward a bid for the Kings. At left, fans David Gutierrez and Maria Davila attend the City Hall event.

Editorial: Sacramento deserves its shot to keep the Kings

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 - 11:56 am | Page 12A
Last Modified: Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 - 6:38 pm

At this point, it might seem like a half-court heave at the buzzer. But those shots sometimes go in, right?

That's why Sacramento needs to fight hard to keep the Kings.

On Tuesday, 19 local business and civic leaders took a big step in that direction by coming forward with $1 million pledges as potential investors in the team. They include Sleep Train Mattress Centers founder Dale Carlsen, real estate executive Phil Oates and developer David Taylor. Their commitment shows how important the Kings are to Sacramento, the team's home since 1985.

In coming days, Mayor Kevin Johnson hopes to unveil the potential deep-pocketed majority owner or owners. The mayor and the city are offering the same deal as last year for a new downtown arena.

The other NBA owners who will decide the Kings' fate ought to give Sacramento's pitch every consideration. As Johnson said Tuesday, the city has done everything asked of it.

When the owners meet in April, they will also have before them the deal announced Monday to move the Kings to Seattle. A group led by hedge-fund billionaire Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has agreed to buy 65 percent of the Kings – the 53 percent owned by the Maloofs, plus 12 percent controlled by Oklahoma businessman Robert Hernreich – for about $340 million. That would value the entire franchise at a record $525 million.

If the owners approve the sale, the team would play starting next season in Seattle, which lost the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City in 2008. Only once in recent years has the NBA refused to allow a relocation – in 1994 when the Minnesota Timberwolves were blocked from going to New Orleans.

One positive is that either way, the Maloofs' time as controlling owners is coming to an end. Hansen says his negotiations with the Maloofs "were handled with the utmost honor and professionalism."

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about how the Maloofs have treated fans and officials here lately.

While the Maloofs were part of the team's glory years (culminating in consecutive division titles in 2002 and 2003), they have not invested enough in the team or its current arena. They walked away last year from the arena deal that would have cemented the Kings in Sacramento. Now, it appears they're cashing in at the expense of the community they claim to cherish.

Sacramento has been a great NBA city, and can be again with the right owners. It just needs a fair shot.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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