Sleepless in Seattle…


I would not recommend David Stern spend much time in Seattle after he retires as the NBA commissioner in 2014. No Space Needle, no Pike Market Place, no Experience Music Project tours for you dear sir… After yesterday’s ownership representatives’ meeting in Dallas, in which the NBA blocked the sale of the Sacramento Kings to a Seattle consortium headlined by lead investor Chris Hansen, I am going to go with the notion that Seattle’s resident’s are counting down the days until Stern’s retirement. Ownership representatives from the league’s 30 teams met Wednesday and ultimately voted to reject the Kings’ proposed move to Seattle, thus backing last month’s unanimous recommendation from a relocation committee to keep the team in Sacramento. The vote to remain in Sacramento turned out to be 22-8. Stern, rather blandly, realized the all but certain toll this saga would steep both cities in, stated rather unconvincingly , “I would say it’s a victory for Sacramento, not a victory for the NBA.” Hmmm…someone is trying to walk the wobbly fence of non-commitment… The extreme nature of the saga was clearly seen by Seattle’s last ditch desperate attempt to return to the ranks of professional basketball.  In an attempt to sway owners to dismiss the recommendations from the league-appointed relocation committee, Hansen/Seattle increased the value of their offer for 65 percent of the Kings from $358 million to a record $409 million, pushing the overall valuation of the proposed transaction to $625 million. (NBA History lesson: The previous record for an NBA franchise sale, by comparison, is the $450 million paid by a Joe Lacob-led consortium in 2010 to purchase the Golden State Warriors.) And for an added cherry on top, Hansen/Seattle also offered each team a relocation fee payout of more than $4 million — for a total of $115 million — in hopes of securing the 16 votes Seattle needed for the original sale agreement to be ratified. But in the end the deal failed. Stern went on to say at a news conference afterward that the Maloof family that owns the Kings has “the right to retain ownership” of the team under league bylaws. However, Stern expressed his unabashed desire to have the franchise sold to the consortium assembled by Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson and headed by Silicon Valley billionaire Vivek Ranadive. A move that would keep them in Sacramento.
“It is my expectation that we’ll be able to make a deal with the Maloofs and the Ranadive group to transfer title of the team in Sacramento,” Stern said. “It’s not a certainty, but we’re going to work [toward] that result.”
Two sources close to the process indicated Wednesday that it has been conveyed to the Maloofs that approval from fellow owners is unlikely at this point if they try to sell to a group other than Ranadive’s, given the considerable capital and commitment that the prospective ownership team Johnson pulled together has poured into its offer to match the considerable bid from Hansen’s side. In other words, the other owners liked the Ranadive/Sacramento offer more because it had even more money. So wait a minute…this was all an elaborate and expensive televised dating game, with Stern portraying the game show host Dr. Love? And once again Seattle is left the gilted lover. In a statement issued Wednesday night (imagine this in a reality television reunion show setting), Hansen said: “While we are obviously extremely disappointed with today’s relocation vote and truly believe we put forth both a significantly better offer and arena plan…I truly believe we did everything possible to put our best foot forward in this process and you all should be proud and hold your heads high today. Our day will come … and when it does it will just be that much sweeter for the struggle. I love you, Seattle!” The outcome of the vote understandably comes as a bitter blow to the basketball fans of Seattle, who will understandably bristle at Stern’s explanation that Sacramento prevailed as much because of “advantage incumbent” as anything. However, Seattle fans will only see the Stern dynasty as ruthlessly and inexplicably removing both opportunities it has had for professional basketball. ”This was not an anti-Seattle vote. This was a pro-Sacramento vote,” Stern has said. Be that as it may, and business may just be just that…business, I would still recommend that Stern stay away from the Emerald City for the time being. Hell hath no fury….