Johnson won’t give up trying to keep Kings
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
SACRAMENTO – Hope was still floating at Sleep Train arena on Monday night, never mind the latest round of doom-and-gloom reports that the Sacramento Kings were a dead team walking.
Local plans were still being plotted, and people in the know here continued to swear that this story may not end with the Seattle Sonics being born again at the expense of Sacramento. Purple paraphernalia was everywhere during a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, but white flags were nowhere to be found.
Sacramento isn’t giving up, mostly, because the man who runs their city refuses to give in.
Kevin Johnson, the former NBA point guard and Sacramento mayor who kept the team from moving to Anaheim in April 2011 and thus created legions of believers in this area, has that curious look again. His counter-intuitive confidence is the driving force of the optimism in the California Capital, that I-know-something-you-don’t-know vibe of his that carries so much weight because of past successes and his close relationship with NBA commissioner David Stern.
Oh to be a fly on the wall inside his cell phone…
While much is left to be learned about Sacramento’s counter-punch to the reported agreement between the Maloof family that owns the team and the Seattle-based group headed by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, people close to Johnson swear he’s genuinely optimistic that he can save the Kings again. This is fait accompli everywhere else, with league insiders insisting that the Board of Governors would be eager to approve a move to Seattle, but it’s just the beginning of the fight that could turn ugly here if you ask the power players in Sacramento.
Despite the fact that almost every conceivable factor falls in Seattle’s favor – from the collective wealth of the Hansen-Ballmer-Nordstrom group to the arena plan already in place to the air of inevitably that surrounds it all – Sacramento seems determined to go down swinging. The shared goal, according to nearly a dozen people involved in various local plans to buy the team from the Maloofs and build an arena that is … [For more on Kevin Johnson won't give up trying to keep Kings, click here.]