City Beat

Mayor Kevin Johnson has awkward appearance with Kings owner Vivek Ranadive

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson didn’t get his jersey in the rafters of Golden 1 Center.

And Kings Chairman Vivek Ranadive didn’t get a handshake.

The two men most responsible for downtown’s new sports arena took part in an awkward ceremony Monday night honoring Johnson in the final moments of his tenure as mayor. It was held during the second quarter of the Kings’ victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The appearance came after a flap last week over whether the Kings should hang a “MAYOR KJ” jersey in the rafters at Golden 1 Center alongside the retired jerseys of legendary players.

The Sacramento City Council passed a resolution calling for the city to pursue such recognition for Johnson, and Vice Mayor Rick Jennings believed there was a deal in place to make that happen. But the Kings said the team had no immediate plans to hang a jersey for Johnson.

The Kings said Tuesday that nothing had changed; a spokeswoman for Johnson did not respond to questions.

After a 45-second video clip was shown in Golden 1 Center highlighting Johnson’s biggest moments in the arena saga, the mayor walked out to center court to warm applause from the crowd. He was soon joined by Ranadive, who presented Johnson with a basketball signed by Kings players, owners and executives.

As Ranadive handed Johnson the ball, he appeared to extend his hand. But Johnson simply took the basketball.

Johnson, Ranadive and two Kings cheerleaders then posed for photographs. Johnson and the cheerleaders smiled, but Ranadive looked forward without an expression.

The two briefly exchanged words, and they smiled as Ranadive pointed out something on the basketball. Ranadive reached over and patted the mayor on the back as he walked off the court, without shaking or embracing.

The signed basketball – and a crown-shaped plaque on a wall in Golden 1 Center – were the Kings’ parting gifts to Johnson.

Johnson leaves office today, and Darrell Steinberg will be sworn in this evening at the California State Railroad Museum as mayor.

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis

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