Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin: Hansen's actions derail his credibility

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 - 10:10 am

Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles. That was a surprise. Chris Hansen throwing up his dirty hands and shoveling $100,000 worth of anti-arena mud at Sacramento's proposed sports and entertainment complex?

Sleazy. Petulant. Testosterone-driven. Not a surprise.

Remember what I said a few months back about bullies? This was like beaning Alex Rodriguez with a fastball when he has his back turned and is walking toward the dugout.

One cheap trick often leads to another, even among billionaires.

Hansen bankrolled the anti-arena campaign after the following events transpired: The NBA board of governors approved the Kings sale and the proposed downtown sports and entertainment complex; Commissioner David Stern and his deputy, Adam Silver, made it abundantly clear Seattle would be considered when the league expands or one of the NBA's distressed franchises meets the criteria for relocation; the Seattle hedge fund manager apologized for his predatory behavior and his attempt to steal another city's viable franchise.

"I'm not going to wrestle (another) team away, be a predator," Hansen said during interviews three weeks ago with Seattle's King5 TV and KJR (AM) radio. "The Seattle-Sacramento fight made us all uncomfortable. It made me sick to my stomach. How did I get myself into this position?"

He got into this latest situation by contacting a Los Angeles-based law firm and contributing $100,000 to a group that opposes public funding for a new arena and is attempting to get the issue on the June ballot. The parties' failure to disclose the source of the funds by the July 31 deadline violates state law and takes an even bigger chunk out of Hansen's credibility.

And how funny is that? After everything that has happened in Sacramento the past decade – inertia, incompetence, political infighting and numerous unsuccessful arena proposals before the parties came together on the current downtown project – the masked man wasn't a Maloof.

Sacramento kept its Kings and will build that new facility. The petition drive and the opposition aside – and things were awfully quiet before Hansen started shooting off his mouth and opening his wallet – the shovels come out of the woodshed in April or May. And who knows? Maybe DeMarcus Cousins and his pals will shock the world about the same time and reintroduce themselves to the playoffs.

Perhaps by then, Hansen will have come up with a two-tiered recovery plan, one element to restore credibility within his community and another to placate league executives and owners who take it personally when a prospective investor (Hansen) attacks one of their own, in this case, new Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive.

League sources differ over whether Hansen's actions jeopardized Seattle's standing as the next city in line for a franchise.

One owner suggested Hansen "severely damaged, if not outright destroyed" the chances of a Sonics expansion franchise emerging in the next few years.

Other league executives theorized that, once the Sacramento arena is completed, interest in the Seattle market will be renewed, possibly even accelerated with someone other than Hansen leading the campaign.

Some of the league's highest-ranking executives feel Hansen was less than forthcoming during his negotiations to purchase the majority interest of the Kings from the Maloofs and remain angered by his attempts to drive up the sale price in the final hours.

Perhaps the overriding concern both for Seattle and for Hansen/Steve Ballmer is this: It's not the way Silver wants to start his tenure Feb. 1, when Stern retires.

Extending the national television contract is the No. 1 priority – and a precursor to serious expansion exploration. But in the decisive board of governors meeting in May, when the owners voted 22-8 to keep the Kings in Sacramento, Silver effusively praised the Hansen/Ballmer effort and left no doubt that he regarded Seattle as an appealing and potential future market.

But now who knows? Maybe Ballmer shoves Hansen aside. Maybe Seattle's civic leaders balk at the prospect of investing $200 million on an arena project overseen by someone willing to sabotage another city's agreement.

Maybe this will all be forgotten by the time the NBA entertains expansion. Maybe the league extracts a pound of flesh ($$$) from Hansen by increasing the expansion fee.

Whatever. Hansen is Seattle's problem now. Hopefully, he just stays away.

Call The Bee's Ailene Voisin (916) 321-1208 and follow her on Twitter @ailene_voisin.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from UNLV and a law degree from the University of San Diego before committing full time to journalism.

Her career includes stops at the San Diego Union, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and time spent as the backup beat writer for Dodgers and Angels, Clippers and NBA beat writer, sports columnist, along with numerous assignments covering international events and the Olympics. Ailene joined The Sacramento Bee in 1997.

Phone: 916-321-1208
Twitter: @ailene_voisin

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