Sacramento Kings

Politico drops suit against Ranadive over Kings ownership

Sacramento power broker Darius Anderson took two of the Sacramento Kings’ top owners to court last fall, demanding a piece of the action after he helped keep the team from leaving town.

He walked away with nothing.

The lobbyist and developer has dropped a lawsuit that claimed co-owners Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov reneged on an agreement to let him invest in the Kings two years ago.

Anderson dropped the suit in a terse filing in San Mateo Superior Court. The filing offered no explanation.

In a statement Friday, the Kings said Anderson pulled the plug without “obtaining any recovery of any kind.”

“The early dismissal of this action confirms our statement that this was a frivolous lawsuit, and we are pleased that it has been put to rest once and for all,” the team added. Efforts to reach Anderson and his lawyer were unsuccessful.

Anderson sued Ranadive and Mastrov last December, saying they promised to let him into the ownership group that took control of the team in 2013.

Ranadive and Mastrov had acknowledged having discussions with Anderson about an ownership stake, but “the parties never reached definitive agreement on a single term,” their lawyer said in court papers filed in March. Anderson, they said, “is grasping at straws.”

In his lawsuit, Anderson demanded unspecified monetary damages and an order establishing his “rightful share” of the Kings. He threatened to haul Mayor Kevin Johnson and retired NBA Commissioner David Stern into court as witnesses.

It’s undisputed that Anderson played a key early role in Sacramento’s drive to prevent the former owners, the Maloofs, from completing their sale of the Kings to investors from Seattle.

The politico helped put together the deal that secured Downtown Plaza as the site for the new Kings arena – an essential component in the effort to prevent relocation. He also recruited Southern California billionaire Ron Burkle to help finance a Sacramento counteroffer for the team itself.

Eventually, the NBA board of governors vetoed the Seattle deal and agreed to leave the team in Sacramento. But by that point, Anderson’s role had diminished. Burkle dropped out of the effort altogether, citing a conflict of interest.

The Kings have never said why Anderson was denied an ownership role, although Mastrov once told The Sacramento Bee that Anderson was “a Burkle guy, he’s not a Vivek guy, and Burkle didn’t get the team.”

Anderson did wind up making money for his work on the Kings project. After buying Downtown Plaza for $21 million, he and his partners sold the old mall to the new Kings owners for $36 million. Court papers show Anderson owned 1 percent of the mall, suggesting he collected a $150,000 share of the profits.

But being denied ownership of the team itself meant Anderson missed out on an even bigger payday. The Ranadive group bought controlling interest in a deal that valued the whole franchise at $534 million. Since then, Forbes magazine estimates the team’s value has jumped to $800 million.

As for Downtown Plaza, the Kings broke ground last year on a $477 million arena. It’s scheduled to open in October 2016.

Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.

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