August 26, 2012

Marcos Breton: It's no fun playing Internet hall monitor on Kings rumors

The Maloof "boys" aren't talking – and when they do, nobody should trust them anyway – so Virginia Beach seems plausible even in absence of any facts.

It was so twisted.

A website I had never heard of reported Thursday that Virginia Beach, Va., was working to build an arena with Comcast and lure the Kings from the state capital to the backwater sticks.

Then, a Sacramento TV station picked up on the Virginia Beach story and tweeted that the Kings WERE moving to Virginia.


We went down the rabbit hole of social media, where innuendo is "re-tweeted" as a fact that triggers a feeding frenzy of media reporting – and analyzing – overheated rumors.

People say the media were far more trustworthy when the venerable Walter Cronkite soberly delivered the evening news on CBS back in the day.

Yeah, sure. Uncle Walter never got scooped on Twitter eight hours before the TV lights shone on his sensible glasses.

Within minutes of the Virginia Beach non-story story, my cellphone blew up. Radio dudes in Seattle – the other market poised to steal the Kings – wanted to talk with me about what it all meant.

No way.

Then New York was on the horn. Satellite radio producers were telling me the Kings story was in the Washington Post.


I looked it up and there it was – a Washington Post blog rehashing the original Virginia Beach Web story.

Did I want to talk about the Kings move on radio coast-to-coast?

Not really.

But as soon as I hung up that call, Comcast television was on the phone from San Francisco and local TV dudes wanted their own sound bite.

This all happened within five minutes of the original Virginia posting, and there was no stopping it.

No matter how vociferously I said – and tweeted – that the Kings weren't moving, people wanted to talk about how they were.

I never felt so old in my life.

My journalism career began in 1986, not long after Cronkite signed off for the last time. That was back when standards and fact checking and analysis based on knowledge was still the universal standard in the business.

Those standards live on, but they are far from universal. When they are not upheld or are plainly overlooked by people trying to post "provocative" information online, you have a story about nothing becoming the biggest story of the day.

Be careful when you blame the "media" for this rubbish.

Many of us in the business hate days like Thursday. I foolishly spent the better part of that day as a half-baked Internet hall monitor – preaching standards to people who don't care about them.

What's especially galling is that we know the Kings owners don't want to be in Sacramento. Consequently, there is going to be smoke in any Maloof-related fire because that is the sorry state of the Kings under Maloof "leadership."

The Maloof "boys" aren't talking – and when they do, nobody should trust them anyway – so Virginia Beach seems plausible even in absence of any facts.

With the Maloofs, Sparks, Nev., would be plausible as a future home of the Kings.

Joe, Gavin and George Maloof blew up Sacramento's arena deal because it called for outrageous conditions, such as the owners putting their own money into the building.

These guys will go wherever they can get a city to build them an arena for free, raising the value of their franchise while they retain control of it.

They want everything for nothing.

An early 1970s soul song about them could go something like this:

"Gavin was a rollin' stone/wherever he could freeload was his home ... And when they fled!/all they left us was a loan."

The Maloofs' best deal would be to go back to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and rebuild what they obliterated in April.

If they did that, the Maloofs would go from loathed to liked, and I personally would observe a Maloofian cease-fire.

But it appears they remain in the grips of dysfunction while claiming they are staying in Sacramento until the day they apply for relocation.

That means the Virginia Beach story was just the first in what promises to be an endless series of Kings rumors that Sacramento will have to endure as long as these chaps own the team.

So let's remember who we are dealing with: Six straight losing seasons, cheapskate player payrolls, a disheveled building where the Kings play and which most top musical acts avoid – and endless rumors that the team is going to leave.

Whatever happened to that Maloof talk of retrofitting Arco Arena? It's another rumor the media have chased on the Maloof highway to nowhere.

I could start my own rumor – "BREAKING: Sacramento keeps Kings, dumps owners" – but that's not what we do.

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