I call him the puppeteer.
Because in my opinion, that’s exactly what NBA Commissioner David Stern is and has always been.
Whatever happens with the Sacramento Kings, he’ll absolve himself of any guilt. Yet, it’s my feeling he’s still pulling the strings in a final act before retirement.
On Friday, Stern said that the Sacramento bid to keep the Kings needed work – that it wasn’t quite there compared to Seattle’s bid. Unless it increased, Stern said, it wouldn’t get to the state of consideration with the NBA owners.
Most Seattle fans regard this news as very encouraging. I regard it as nothing more than lip service, since the vote is still more than a mont away.
It gives Mark Mastrov’s group more than enough time to raise their bid, to close the gap with the $341 million dollar offer from Chris Hansen’s group.
Stern’s update is no more than a public kick in the butt to Mastrov’s group – so the dramatics are even greater down the stretch. To Stern, what’s better than a down to the wire finish?
Remember, just weeks ago, Stern said he didn’t think it was a bidding war. But as of Friday, he was closer to acknowledging that it was becoming one.
It’s one more reason to believe that Stern’s public message throughout this process has been purposely ambiguous.
The only semblance of encouragement i found from Stern’s comments on Friday was the additional April 3meeting in New York. Both sides will now apparently present their case to the board of governors two weeks earlier than originally expected, before the owners vote on April 18.
This puts a significant amount of pressure on Sacramento’s side, specifically in getting the details for a downtown arena approved by their city council. April 18was a stretch. April 3 is an even bigger challenge.
Whichever way it goes – and I’m still thinking it strongly favors Seattle – the Kings sale is an absolute boon to the league. One of the cheapest valued franchises will be sold for a record amount.
And ultimately, Stern will have presided over the sale.
Worst of all, the puppeteer has created a verbal and online war between the fan bases of two cities. Sacramento’s fans will always hate Seattle. Seattle fans will always feel threatened by Sacramento. The verbal assaults only get worse by the day, and will likely reach a crescendo by April 18.
Both cities deserve a team. They don’t deserve to turn each other into enemies.
Instead, thanks to the league’s model. And the often dismissive public statements by the league’s commissioner, we’re merely puppets being pulled by the dollar signs at the top.