Commentary: NBA vote order helps Sacramento; highlights morals over money

SEATTLE –While I’m still confident about Seattle’s chances in the fight for the Sacramento Kings, we put our spotlight on a huge twist that came on Friday:

The voting itinerary.

Until Friday, we all assumed the NBA’s Board of Governors’ first vote would be whether to approve the Kings’ sale to Chris Hansen’s group, which needs a three-quarter majority. If approved, relocation, which needs simple majority, would’ve been a foregone conclusion.

Instead, NBA Commissioner David Stern reversed the two – stating the NBA would vote on relocation first, and then the actual sale to Hansen’s group.

This is a huge development. It puts the larger focus on the relocation – and shoves the Hansen purchase agreement aside.

The first vote is no longer asking “which deal is better for the league?” It’s asking “are you really ready to move the Kings franchise out of Sacramento?”

In other words, the NBA is putting morals ahead of money – which seems unprecedented.

SternIt’s a clever move by Commissioner Stern, who says he’s impartial to the ultimate decision. But this voting order reflects reports that Stern is doing everything he can to support Sacramento’s side. If the owners reject relocation first, then they never have to officially vote on Hansen’s purchase agreement with the Maloofs. In essence, they wouldn’t be giving Hansen and Steve Ballmer a direct “no” based on the merits of their plan. They just wouldn’t be voting on it at all.

If relocation wasn’t involved, the decision would be simple. Hansen’s plan has better funding. It has a larger media market. It has potential for more money – that would contribute to the league’s new revenue-sharing plan.

It’s a no-brainer.

But by voting on relocation first, it lessens Sacramento’s comparative deficiencies, and could potentially reward the incumbent city’s patchwork plan and last-minute effort by allowing it to keep its team.

Imagine if David Stern had posed this question to the Board of Governors back in 2008? What if he had said forget the logistics, the money, and a viable arena plan. Is this committee ready to uproot the Sonics from a city it has been a part of for 41 years? Is it ready to punish a devoted fan-base by taking their team?

I’d imagine fewer than 28 owners would’ve said “yes.”

In a sense, that’s what’s happening here. By voting on relocation first, Stern is asking his owners, “has Sacramento done enough” – not “what more can Seattle offer the league?”

Again – it’s morals over money.

It’s an ironic twist: David Stern has seemingly grown a heart. And the timing couldn’t be worse.

Because as a result, Seattle might be left without a team once again.

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24 comments

  • T. Rivers

    I have issue with your opinion about Sacramento’s last minute plan. Yes, it was in the eleventh hour but it was not known that the team was for sale until the eleventh hour and it was “First and goal to go”! Hansen & Microsoft, base upon all reports have been preparing for this for years. Vetting their investors, buying land, arranging financing, etc. Sacramento did not have this luxury! Discussions may have been going on but, the accusations of misuse of government resources would have been off the charts. Spending city dollars on a investment group for a team not for sale! Common any reporter, including yourslf, would have jumped all over that. Additionally, why would the relocation of the Sonics been first on the agenda? Seattle had no arena plan and that is why relocation occurred. Not because of the viability of the Seattle market. And lastly, the issue that pro-Sonics and most Seattle based reporters miss, overlook, or avoid is the impact this move would/could have on the current NBA owners. A market that has supported the team for years and a local government entity that has shown, TWICE, the ability to finance an arena and then is abandoned? What happens when the Spurs owner goes to the mayor of San Antonio, or the owner of the Bobcats (MJ) and asks for help or the team will move. Those cities will potentially say, ‘we are not going to go through all this work, for you to walk out anyway. Thanks but no thanks’! There is a greater financial picture here than Seattle’s larger TV contract. This move could negatively impact all of the teams financial picture long term. That is the issue! Not sentiment, not ‘we’ screwed Seattle last time and not attempting to create a bidding war! It is about long term economics and not making a few million more per year with the Sonics back but, losing 10s or 100s of millions over the years by “screwing” another city!

    • mikebailey4052

      If the folks in Seattle knew that the Kings were for sale, why didn't the people in Sacramento?
      As for what happens when a team moves and another is relocated, ask New Orleans, San Diego, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Vancouver, Syracuse, Minnesota, Charlotte. All of those cities have had teams relocate, and ironically it's the fine city of Kansas City that once called the Kings home.
      As for the impact the move of a team from a smaller to a larger market, well geez a bunch of billionaires just got the opportunity to roll in more dough.
      You're argument is invalid if you think it's about making it up to Seattle. You are naive and should be banned form the interwebz

      • kennadog

        Basically, because the Maloofs kept swearing to the fans and the city hat the team that the team was not for sale, while negotiating with Hansen behind our backs. They swore they'd rather die than sell the team, shortly before the deal was announced. Sacramento had at least one possible buyer in Burkle as far back as 2011.

        And contrary to comments otherwise, we had an NBA-negotiated, NBA-approved arena deal in 2012. It was the Maloofs who backed out. So , although the identified site for the arena changed and the city's partners in financing changed, the city's contribution to an arena is the same as 2012 and much of the consultant and city analysis and had already been done and only needed updating.

        I know the fans in Seattle didn't have anything to do with losing the Sonics, but Schultz wouldn't have sold the Sonics to anyone, if he could have gotten an arena deal.

        On the other hand, for three years, the city of Sacramento has done everything the league has asked it to do. Yet, because the Maloofs are slimebags who went behind our backs to screw us, we should loser our team? That would be an even more criminal result than what happened to Seattle.

        Now we know they never intended to stay in Sacramento. We've been lied to for years.

        • Kevin

          I don't think you can say what happened in Sacramento is more criminal than what happened in Seattle. The NBA has bent over backwards to keep the team in Sac. Stern has fought tooth and nail to keep the team there.

          Yet, there was no fighting for Seattle when Bennett sought relocation. The league, the whole country, turned the other way. Bennett lied to Seattle in much the same way the Maloofs lied to Sacramento, but at least Sacramento has the commissioner on its side. Seattle had nobody. And lost its team of 41 years.

    • Cali.Gone.North

      I'm a former Sacramento resident (I lived in Natomas and could see the arena from my bedroom window). I seem to recall an arena proposal back in the mid-2000's coming up for a public vote and getting absolutely hammered by the public. Twice, if memory serves. This proposal looks, to me, a lot like that one. Has Sacramento even approved the arena funding, the land sale, the permitting? No. Simply put, Seattle has everything ready to go. Sacramento has nothing but a handful of investors trying to cobble something together at the last minute without thinking it through. It's a no-brainer. That all said… I hope the Kings and their perpetual 30% win record stays in Sacto and we get an expansion team where we can build a championship out of the gate. We deserve a winner. Not someone's leftover refuse.

    • Jerry Sandefur

      "What happens when the Spurs owner goes to the mayor of San Antonio, or the owner of the Bobcats (MJ) and asks for help or the team will move. Those cities will potentially say, 'we are not going to go through all this work, for you to walk out anyway."

      I agree completely….this is a bad precedent. What happens when teams in even smaller markets than Sac (Salt Lake City, Milwaukee, Cleveland, or Orlando) go to negotiate with their city governments? the cities are going to say…hey, Sac bent over backwards for you guys and you still let them move, I aint risking my political future to get screwed the same way. No public funds for you!

    • mikebailey4052

      No the difference between Hansen/Ballmer and Bennett is that Bennett was a weasel about it, claiming initially that relocation was never part of the plan. Only after the team was purchased did he and his cronies admit their true plan. Hansen and Ballmer have been very upfront about their plan.

      • kennadog

        Only semantics. The villain for Sacramento was and is the Maloofs, who refused to even negotiate with Sacramento's buyer since 2011 and swore they would never sell the team, while negotiating with Hansen behind Sacramento's back.

        The first confirmation the city had that the team was even being offered for sale was when the Seattle deal was announced in January. No its not Hansens' fault, but we are being screwed just as bad. Even worse, when you consider Sacramento had an NBA-approved arena deal in 2012, that the Maloofs backed out of.

        I've seen Sonics fans writing crap about OKC fans for, among other things, not understanding what went on in Seattle. I find Sonics fans at least that ignorant about the history of the Kings/Maloofs/Sacramento and how long the Maloofs have been lying and screwing over the fans here.

        • Jonathan

          So wait you are telling me that the owner of the team backed out of a deal they weren't comfortable with? My god you guys really are just whiners.

  • guest

    We SURE wouldn't want to put morals ahead of money in professional sports. To use Aaron's words, that would be unprecedented!!!!!

  • Sactown Gal

    Dear Seattle,

    I wish you had an idea of what it really feels like dealing with an ownership group called the Maloof family. You see, they are not to be trusted. This is our third time on this roller coaster with this family. As sick to our stomachs as the loopty-loops make us, we're still standing. It's like being in a relationship with someone that tells you, "I love you baby! You're all I need!" to find out that they were sleeping with someone else the last year of your relationship with no knowledge whatsoever.

    Don't forget, the league even offered to loan $$$ to this family to have them snub David Stern in the face last year. Why do you think Mr Stern made it perfectly clear that owners do not decide where teams are located? If you don't get that, then go learn what it means to own a franchise in the NBA. Disrespecting the process is disrespecting David Stern, period. I don't know the man personally, however, any time I watch a press conference lead by him, something tells me he has the memory of an elephant and will never forget a family by the name of Maloof. Why do you think it's going to this length? It's now personal between Stern and the Maloofs. In a nutshell, the jig is almost up. You're about to get Maloofed not by the family, but David Stern. Unfortunate as it is, you'll just be the collateral damage.

    Before you continue to take numerous jabs at our city which is the capital of the 8th largest economy in the world, in the words of our beloved Grant Napear, "get your facts straight!" when it comes to thinking the Maloof's can be trusted to sell the team to your Steve Hansen. Take a little time to give yourself a history lesson of what got us to this point and demand that when you do get a team (because I truly believe you will, just not this one) and RESPECT THE PROCESS AND THE LEAGUE! That includes throwing personal jabs at us, our Mayor (who has been nothing but classy and respectful to you, your fans, Mayor and city).

    Like I said, I really hope you get a team, but you sure as hell are not going to get ours!

    Sincerely,
    A Proud Sactown Fan

    • Jonathan

      So you think we had a super happy fun time in 2008 when out of no where we found out our team was sold. Then taken on a 2 year bs ride to keep them in Seattle only to uncover emails that showed that the Bennett ownership group never intended to keep the Sonics in Seattle. So yeah we have idea what it is life. Get real

    • Kevin

      No idea how it feels, huh? Imagine if Hansen were to purchase the team. Imagine he promised to never move the team. Imagine he said "Sacramento and the Kings are synonymous." Imagine your city has already funded an NFL and MLB stadium. Then imagine Hansen proposes a ridiculously expensive NBA arena, and proposes to put it in the worst traffic area in the state. After it predictably gets voted down by state legislature, imagine Hansen throws up his hands, saying he tried. Imagine he then chooses Seattle as the new home of the Kings. Then imagine you uncover emails saying his intent all along was to move the team to Seattle, proving his public statements and proposals were all for show.

      Then imagine the league voting almost unanimously to approve the relocation (with only Paul Allen and Mark Cuban caring enough to vote no).

      So, yeah, I think we have an idea of what it feels like. Except, we've actually lost our team. You're lucky enough to have a commissioner who has bent over backwards to keep the team where it is. If only Seattle were so lucky…


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