Mitch Richmond is buying back into the Kings. Emotionally, for sure. Financially, he hopes. And we knew that.
The first legitimate star of the Sacramento era is among the investors who each have committed $1 million and are bidding on the seven percent share being auctioned in bankruptcy proceedings.
But that's not the bottom line. Richmond wants back into basketball, too.
After a meet-and-greet session with fans and reporters Thursday at a downtown restaurant, the six-time All-Star quietly revealed that, if the Mastrov/Burkle ownership bid for the Kings prevails, he will pursue a position in the basketball front office.
"That's where my interest is, what I'd be looking at," said Richmond, a consultant with Golden State until 2009. "I left when (Chris Mullin) was let go."
Because uncertainty intrudes into virtually every conversation about the Kings and their future, Richmond declined to elaborate. There is an exhausting list of issues to be addressed and resolved before one city celebrates and the other city slumps.
But if things shake out Sacramento's way? If the Mastrov/Burkle offer is presented and approved by the board of governors during the April 18-19 meetings? If the incoming owners clean out the basketball operations department headed by longtime president Geoff Petrie who, coincidentally, traded an aging, discouraged Richmond in a masterful maneuver for Chris Webber in 1998? If Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson retains his influence and provides the necessary job references?
Richmond will contact a moving company and pack his bags. Though he has a home in Southern California, where he oversees a foundation (Rock Life) that addresses bullying and other social issues affecting children, he says he has not lost affection for Sacramento or forgotten the best of times with the Kings.
After overcoming the initial shock of being traded from the Warriors in 1991 in a deal for the underperforming Billy Owens, Richmond known as "Rock" cemented his stature as one of the league's elite performers and one of the great scorers of his era. He was named to six All-Star teams in his seven seasons with the Kings (1991-98) and, partly because of his perseverance and consistency, was one of Lenny Wilkens' personal selections for the 1996 U.S. Olympic squad.
"This is a city that really gave me a lot," Richmond said. "There was a time when I wasn't happy about the trade, but this city, this team, the fans stood behind me from Day One. They came out and sold out every night. The (investment) was a good way to try to give back to the city, get involved. The Kings mean a lot to this community. It would just be a sad day if the Kings leave this community."
Interestingly, Richmond cited the 1996 Kings-Sonics opening-round playoff series as his favorite Sacramento memory. The Kings, who had reached the postseason only once since the franchise relocated from Kansas City in 1985, split two games in KeyArena and held a late lead at Arco Arena in Game 3 in the best-of-five series.
"We had an opportunity," he added. "We felt we could beat Seattle, but then I got hurt (ankle). We fell a little short. But that was one of the moments."
Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, who coached the Sonics from 1992 to 1998, remembers his team teetering, nearing a double-digit deficit before Frank Brickowski and Sam Perkins made crucial three-pointers. After that, Karl said, his team's confidence soared during the series clincher two days later and for the remainder of the playoffs.
"I have pretty good memories of what happened here because it was a wild and crazy crowd," Karl said after the Nuggets played the Kings on Tuesday. "I mean, it was loud. There are about 10 games of my life where you walk off the court, and most of them were in Seattle, where your ears are just ringing. That was one of those nights."
On Thursday, as Richmond walked toward the restaurant exit, he was asked about participating in another Kings resurrection. He stopped abruptly, smiled and presented his business card. He wants back in. He definitely wants in.