January 16, 2013

Marcos Breton: Don't expect fairness in Sacramento Kings drama

Rarely have so many known so little about something so important and yet so absurd.

Rarely have so many known so little about something so important and yet so absurd.

That's the Kings saga in a nutshell, a story as tedious as it is fascinating. Will the Kings be sold to a Seattle billionaire or preserved in Sacramento by other billionaires? We'll find out this spring when the NBA board of governors settles the whole issue – unless it doesn't.

Many pundits and bloggers are already telling you what you should know about the situation when many of them know absolutely nothing.

Sacramento is throwing its heart into saving a team connected to a heartless business in the NBA. Wealthy, powerful people in Seattle and Sacramento are preparing to commit hundreds of millions of dollars for a terrible, mismanaged franchise.

Fans in both cities use words such as "fair" and "right" to promote their causes when fair and right have nothing to do with this.

National pundits call the Kings central to a small town, as if our little hamlet would die if the team left, when Sacramento is a top-20 media market and the state capital.

The owners of the Sacramento Kings – the "Maloof boys" – hold the key to everything in this saga, while holding the key to nothing in every other facet of their lives.

George Maloof, the "smart" one of the family who turned a 98 percent interest in the Palms Casino into 2 percent, leads them. Dude thinks he's Michael Corleone of "Godfather" fame when in fact he is Fredo.

Yet Fredo, his brother Fredo and his other brother Fredo could command a $500 million price tag for a franchise they ran into the ground long ago.

Sacramento fans have only recently turned against the Maloofs en masse, though they've been hitting Kings fans with the same two-by-four going on seven years.

Obviously, it's easier to despise owners amid seven straight losing seasons than it was when they exhibited the same boorish behavior amid eight straight winning seasons.

Meanwhile, Seattle fans who have cried for years about having their NBA team stolen are now rejoicing at the prospect of gaining the team ripped away from Sacramento.

Is much of this obscene and ridiculous? Yes.

Does that matter? No.

So what's real here?

As mayor of Sacramento and a former NBA star, Kevin Johnson has to make every effort to keep the Kings because there is value in having a major sports franchise in town and because Sacramento's downtown would benefit from the boost of a new arena as an anchor and catalyst.

AEG, the Los Angeles-based entertainment company, told The Bee it remains interested in running a downtown arena – no matter who owns the Kings.

Ownership groups will materialize with plans and money to keep the Kings here.

The Kings in Seattle remains a very real possibility, but community interests demand a good faith effort to keep the Kings in Sacramento – even if the process has nothing to do with good faith.

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