Ailene Voisin: Comeback for the city is one for the ages
04/30/2013 12:00 AM
05/16/2013 11:41 AM
The cheering, the chanting, and soon enough, those damn cowbells. Wow. It's all coming back now.
Sacramento pulled off the comeback that beats all comebacks. The community that was stung by the Lakers in 2002, that suffered chronic headaches from relocation threats throughout the last decade, that most recently feared the Kings were going to become extinct and reintroduced as the Sonics, stiffened its spine and accomplished something extraordinary.
It reached for the sun and the moon and the stars – executed an offense that featured the power and precision of that Webber-Divac-Stojakovic collaboration – and capitalized on an immensely significant home-court advantage.
The mayor (former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson) is a hometown kid. Prominent developer Mark Friedman is a native son. The billionaire investors are California software tycoons. Interestingly, the leader of the group, Vivek Ranadive, was born in India, the world's second most populated country and the region regarded as the NBA's next frontier.
With local leaders eschewing partisan politics for the sake of securing the future of the region's only major professional sports franchise, they convinced the relocation committee that, after 28 years, it's best to keep the Kings home.
"Justice prevailed," said Jerry Reynolds, who has been with the Kings since their inaugural 1985-86 season in Sacramento. "This is the right decision. Seattle is a great city that deserves an NBA franchise. And at some point, they'll have one."
"But this is our team," Reynolds added forcefully, and note the high level of cooperation that was necessary to facilitate the public/private partnership for a downtown sports and entertainment complex. "Sacramento is a major-league city, and it simply has to have a major-league sports team to grow.
"When we travel around the country and see how these arenas have revitalized downtowns in Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Miami, to name a few cities, I keep thinking that a downtown arena here can be just as special. And this was probably Sac's last best chance."
While the mayor chose his words carefully during his Monday afternoon news conference at a midtown restaurant, and reminded Kings fans that the relocation committee's recommendation still must be adopted by the board of governors in the upcoming weeks, expectations are expanding by the day, and inching closer and closer to the court.
Ranadive, who will relinquish his ownership interest in the Warriors if his attempt to acquire controlling shares in the Kings is approved, didn't become involved to continue sitting on the sideline. He figures to be every bit as attentive as Warriors CEO Joe Lacob, who within 13 months went from being booed in Oracle Arena for trading Monta Ellis to being praised for hiring sharp basketball executives and empowering them to pursue aggressive, even risky, personnel moves.
If the committee's recommendation is approved as expected and the Maloofs accept the Ranadive-led offer, the Kings' business and basketball operations departments will undergo overhauls.
In contrast to the Warriors, the Kings' roster lacks balance, shooting, passing and chemistry – basically all the basics.
"But it is still fantastic for a community, and I mean Sacramento, to be able to say that despite all the adversity with the team, it never quit," said Andy Dolich, a longtime Bay Area sports consultant and former president of the Memphis Grizzlies. "The other NBA owners take note of that. While Seattle is also a good market, Sacramento has done nothing to deserve losing its team. What the mayor, the sponsors, the fans, and potential new owners keep saying is this: 'This is our franchise, and we'll fight for it to stay here.' That's hard to walk away from."
Call The Bee's Ailene Voisin (916) 321-1208 and follow her on Twitter @ailene_voisin.
About This BlogAilene Voisin, who has been with The Sacramento Bee since 1997, writes columns on a variety of sports, from the NBA, NFL and baseball to local high schools. Voisin previously worked for the San Diego Union, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She has been a beat writer covering the Dodgers, Angels and Clippers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 916-321-1208. Twitter: @ailene_voisin.
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