Archive for the ‘ Seattle SuperSonics Blog ’ Category

Here’s the Seattle Post-Intelligencer blog reporting:

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the Wall Street Journal Thursday that he would be open to making another play for an NBA franchise, even if it means not bringing a team to Seattle.

Ballmer spoke with the Journal prior to giving the commencement address at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business on Friday.

He wouldn’t commit after reporter Shira Ovide’s asked if he was interested in bidding for the Los Angeles Clippers. NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned longtime Clips owner Donald Sterling for life on April 30 following the release of audio tapes in which Sterling is heard making racist remarks. Ballmer and Silver were spotted together on Sunday when the Clippers hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Playoffs.

The big victory for the Kings in recent years, as far as Sacramento is considered, is that the team is still in town and did not wind up being relocated to Seattle or elsewhere. Here’s the Sacramento Bee:

Kings

Standing at center court in Sleep Train Arena on Wednesday night amid smoke from exploding fireworks, new Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, microphone in hand, uttered a few words.

“Sacramento, I have just one thing to say to you,” he said, pausing, his face a mask of seriousness. “This is your team. And it is here to stay.”

A standing-room-only crowd in Sleep Train Arena exploded in cheers. It was a moment many here thought just six months ago would never happen. And yet, the Kings hosted a noisy, purple-hued celebration Wednesday in Natomas, launching their 29th and most improbable season in Sacramento.

The game, which the Kings won 90-88 over the Denver Nuggets, capped a triumphant night.

Many in the crowd said they had come to bask in the fact that Sacramento had somehow, over the last three years, fended off serious attempts by two cities to take the team – both of which seemed, at points, to be done deals.

Hall of Fame center Bill Russell was arrested this week at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after Transportation Security Administration officials found a loaded gun in his luggage.

Russell was arrested Wednesday night as he attempted to go through security. Airport spokesman Perry Cooper confirmed Friday night that Russell was cited for having a weapon in a prohibited area. Russell’s gun was confiscated and he was released.

Russell’s gun was a .38-caliber pistol and was loaded with six rounds, according to a TSA spokesman.

Reported by the Associated Press

The price of admission to Sleep Train Arena has just gone up 5 percent.

As part of a complex deal between the city and the Sacramento Kings for a new downtown arena, the team this month added a 5percent fee on tickets to all arena events. The funds will be used to speed up payoff of a $74million loan the city issued to the Kings in 1997 to help previous team owners refinance arena debt. The Kings still owe the city $62million, after making a $2million July payment, City Treasurer Russ Fehr said.

The fee is expected to be in effect for upcoming events, including a Josh Grobin concert in two weeks, Disney on Ice and Kings pre-season and regular season games.

The surcharge is part of a series of expected agreements between the team and city as part of a joint plan to build a $448million arena at Downtown Plaza.

Reported by Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee

Kings

A fresh fight broke out Wednesday over the proposed public subsidy for Sacramento’s new NBA arena, this time over an allegation that opponents of the subsidy are illegally using voter-registration information for commercial purposes.

In a complaint to the California secretary of state’s elections fraud unit, the pro-arena group DowntownArena.org accused its opponents of using voter lists to pitch the services of a for-profit energy company. “Voter registration information shall not be used for any commercial purpose,” reads the letter from DowntownArena.org.

But John Hyde, a spokesman for the anti-subsidy group STOP, for Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork, called the charge “absolutely false.”

The exchange was the latest flare-up between DowntownArena and STOP, which is working on a ballot initiative to force a public vote on the city’s proposed $258 million subsidy for the arena. Last month, DowntownArena filed a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission that resulted in the dramatic disclosure that a portion of the signature-gathering effort was secretly financed by Chris Hansen, the investor who tried to buy the Kings earlier this year and move them to Seattle.

Reported by Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee

Sacramento Kings
Sacramento push for new Kings arena continues
This new arena stuff is taking a while to materialize

Eight local legislators joined Friday to back a bill to shield Sacramento’s downtown arena plan from lengthy litigation that could cause the building to miss a tight, NBA-imposed deadline for opening.

The 11th-hour effort, championed by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, would speed up the judicial process for handling environmental lawsuits, limit the courts’ ability to stop construction, and add mediation to the mix.

Steinberg, who promised the league in New York this spring he’d help shepherd the arena project through the state’s often lengthy environmental process, said the bill keeps the arena on a fast track to open in 2016.

NBA officials have said they are willing to give Sacramento an extra year, but Commissioner David Stern has warned that the league reserves the right to force the team to move to a new city if the project lags.

Reported by Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra addresses the Seattle Seahawks

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra clearly has the football bug. He apparently also carries a message that resonates beyond basketball.

Three weeks after attending practice and then addressing the University of Tennessee football team in Knoxville as a favor to friend and Volunteers coach Butch Jones, Spoelstra was in Renton, Wash., on Tuesday, addressing the Seattle Seahawks.

“Just having him here in front of the team and just having him in meetings with us and having him out here in practice is an unbelievable experience for everybody,” quarterback Russell Wilson said after Tuesday’s practice. “For him to be able to talk about how his basketball team was successful and the way that they went about their business in terms of sacrificing . . . just that whole idea of sacrificing everything, the players, LeBron [James] coming to Miami, and Dwyane Wade sacrificing all that, all that type of sacrifice that it takes to be great and to be great so often, is kind of what he talked about for the most part. And having that discipline, as well, too, is something that he talked about, and just working hard, continuing to work hard, continuing to believe in yourselves and ignore the noise.

“That’s the main message he gave. And it clicked right with us.”

Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The Oklahoma City Thunder used to be the Seattle SuperSonics. Kevin Durant’s NBA career began in Seattle. And in the Jamal Crawford Pro Am Seattle game, Kevin Durant took a reported 62 shots to finish with 63 points. According to Ball is Life, his team ended up losing 147-141 in OT.

There are also tons of highlights from Jamal Crawford himself, who reportedly scored 46 points.

Here’s the fun video:

Sacramento has kept its Kings but is facing strict deadlines, imposed by the NBA, for building the team a fancy new arena.

Hours after Vivek Ranadive and his partners completed the record-setting purchase of the franchise from the Maloof family, NBA Commissioner David Stern revealed that the Ranadive group must meet “a series of benchmarks” for a new arena - or risk losing the Kings to another city.

If deadlines are blown, Stern told The Sacramento Bee, the NBA has the option of pulling the Kings out of Sacramento and arranging for the team’s sale to new owners.

The Ranadive group agreed to the deadlines in writing, Stern said.

Stern said he doesn’t expect Sacramento to miss its deadlines, but league owners insisted on the doomsday option “in the unlikely event” Sacramento can’t get the arena project rolling in a “reasonable” amount of time…

The NBA is insisting that the building at Downtown Plaza open no later than 2017 - one year later than city officials forecast. The rival investors who tried unsuccessfully to move the team to Seattle agreed to similar deadlines, Stern said.

Reported by Dale Kasler, Tony Bizjak and Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee

Opponents of a public subsidy for a new downtown sports arena are seeking to put the issue before voters in a special election.

The campaign behind the initiative - called Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork - notified the city clerk’s office on Wednesday that it intends to gather signatures for the Voter Approval for Public Funding of Professional Sports Arena Act. The city attorney’s office now has two weeks to write a ballot summary before the campaign can begin collecting signatures.

City Clerk Shirley Concolino said the group will need valid signatures from 15 percent of registered voters in the city - about 33,000. The campaign will also need to collect a buffer of several thousand more to account for invalid signatures and duplicates.

Those signatures would need to be filed with county elections officials by mid-July, giving the campaign just a few weeks.

Reported by Ryan Lillis and Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee

NBA approves sale of Kings to Ranadive group

The epic fight over the Sacramento Kings ended quietly Tuesday.

The NBA board of governors unanimously approved the franchise’s sale to the group led by Vivek Ranadive, essentially ending the Maloof family’s turbulent tenure as Kings owners. The league announced the vote in a simple, one-paragraph news release.

Experts said the peaceful conclusion to a battle that has lasted since January was a tribute to the NBA’s skillful navigation through the process – a result of lessons learned during previous, bloodier disputes over franchise control.

The NBA was able to snuff out the possibility of legal challenges, despite speculation that the Maloofs or their prospective business partners in Seattle were going to sue the league if they didn’t get their way.

“Thirty years ago, this wouldn’t have ended so calmly,” said Mike McCann, a sports law expert and contributor to NBA TV.

Reported by Dale Kasler and Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson announced to screaming throngs of Kings fans Friday that the deal to sell the NBA franchise to a group led by software tycoon Vivek Ranadive has been signed.

The announcement at a City Hall rally brings to an end nearly five months of maneuvering by Johnson to secure a new ownership group, convince the council to commit to building a new downtown arena, and to show the NBA that the capitol city of the most populous state in the nation has the fan base to make the venture successful.

”This was one heck of a comeback,” Johnson, a former NBA All-Star, said on a stage shared with two dozen investors, fans and politicians who had worked to keep the franchise in the city.

Earlier this week, NBA owners rejected a bid to move the franchise to Seattle.

– Reported by Tracie Cone of the Associated Press

Mayor Kevin Johnson arrived home today and said the group led by Silicon Valley executive Vivek Ranadive was close to finalizing a deal to buy the Sacramento Kings.

“It’s going to be close to being signed in the next day or two,” the mayor said at Sacramento International Airport. “I’ll be surprised if we get past the weekend. I feel very confident about that.”

Ranadive is in talks to buy the Kings from the Maloof family after the NBA on Wednesday rejected the franchise’s proposed move to Seattle. NBA Commissioner David Stern said the league was working to close the deal by the end of the week.

Speaking by phone, Kings co-owner George Maloof said negotiations with Ranadive are “going on fine.”

– Reported by Ryan Lillis, Dale Kasler and Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee

If the NBA Board of Governors denies the pending sale and relocation of the Sacramento Kings, the Seattle group seeking to purchase the franchise has a backup deal with the Maloof family.

The backup agreement would have the Seattle group, led by investor Chris Hansen and Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer, purchase a limited ownership of the Maloofs stake in the Kings, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Saturday. The limited partnership would be a purchase of at least 20 percent of the Maloofs stake in the franchise at a valuation of $600 million.

The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publically discuss the details of the offer. ESPN.com first reported the backup deal. If the backup plan is used, the Maloofs would retain majority ownership of the franchise and continue to run the team in Sacramento. But Hansen’s group would hold a two-year right to purchase a majority interest of the franchise at a later date.

– Reported by the Associated Press

The NBA announced today that the league’s Relocation Committee has unanimously recommended that the NBA Board of Governors deny the application of the Sacramento Kings to relocate to Seattle.

The Board will convene during the week of May 13 to vote on this matter.

Anything can happen in the full vote, but unless something drastically changes it’s expected to that the full board will follow suit and vote to keep the Kings in Sacramento.

Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer, part of the group attempting to purchase the Sacramento Kings and move them to Seattle, said Thursday he believes ”there will never be a better opportunity” than now to bring back professional basketball to the Puget Sound.

Ballmer, who has been mostly quiet about his basketball pursuit, spoke briefly Thursday before a fundraising luncheon for the A PLUS youth program in Seattle. His brief comment came hours after an NBA spokesman confirmed that the NBA committee deciding whether the Sacramento Kings should be sold and relocated to Seattle will hold a meeting via conference call Monday.

”Today is about A PLUS. I will say that we’ve got our fingers crossed. Chris Hansen has worked really, really hard, really intelligently,” Ballmer said. ”Seattle has got a great bid. We’ve got a great arena plan. I think we’ve got the better arena plan. We’ve got a good offer, it’s been accepted by current owners. We’ve got a great market. It seems like there will never be a better opportunity. But it will be up to the NBA owners.”

– Reported by Tim Booth of the Associated Press

The Seattle group attempting to buy the Sacramento Kings says it has reached agreement to raise the purchase price by $25 million.

Chris Hansen, teaming with Steve Ballmer to lead the group, Hansen announced the decision to raise the valuation late Friday night. In a statement on his website, Sonicsarena.com, Hansen says the group has voluntarily raised the purchase price as a “sign of our commitment to bring basketball back to our city.”

Hansen’s group entered into a binding agreement with the Maloof family in January to purchase the controlling interest of the franchise based on a $525 million value.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Sacramento developer Mark Friedman said today he’s joining the bid to buy the Kings and build the team a new arena at Downtown Plaza.

Friedman said today he’ll also participate in the non-arena development that’s being proposed for the Downtown Plaza site.

Friedman’s emergence comes one day after Mayor Kevin Johnson revealed that Southern California billionaire Ron Burkle had to reduce his role in the project because of a conflict of interest. Johnson hinted at a press conference Monday that there might be additional changes in the ownership structure.

– Reported by Dale Kasler and Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee

Dueling teams of billionaires and mayors are heading to New York for a pivotal Wednesday showdown over the future of the Sacramento Kings.

Before an elite committee of NBA owners, delegations from Sacramento and Seattle will present their arguments on the issue that’s been making headlines for weeks: Should the Kings stay put or be allowed to move to the Pacific Northwest?

The meeting, to be held at a Manhattan hotel, comes a week after the Sacramento City Council approved a non-binding term sheet for a new $448 million arena at Downtown Plaza - a crucial piece in the city’s attempt to keep the team.

The committee is likely to make a recommendation sometime this month. A final decision is expected April 18 or 19, when the league’s Board of Governors, consisting of all the team owners, convenes in New York.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has said deciding between Sacramento and Seattle will be tough. Seattle offers a larger and wealthier population, but Sacramento has had a strong track record of supporting the league. Both cities are offering to build new arenas.

– Reported by Dale Kasler and Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee

With the clock clicking down, the Sacramento City Council took its last shot at keeping the NBA Kings in California’s capital by approving a public-private deal Tuesday to build a new 18,500-seat arena and retail center downtown.

Approval of the arena was the last step in what has been a full court press by Mayor Kevin Johnson to keep the city’s only major league sports team from bolting to Seattle, where a new ownership group and arena deal awaits. He now must convince NBA owners to block the Maloof family from initiating the move, a deal made public in January.

Since then, the mayor, himself a former NBA All-Star, has scrambled to assemble a group to buy the team, convince Commissioner David Stern to consider a counter offer, and get approval for the financial deal that would build a $448 million arena on the site of a shopping mall - a development many say will revitalize a problem area in its bustling city core.

Next week, Johnson will present the arena plan and purchase offer to an NBA committee. The following week, the NBA Board of Governors will vote on whether the team can be sold, and whether it will stay or move.

– Reported by the Associated Press

There were no surprises at the City Council meetings that ended a few hours. Council members voted 7-2 to approve a term sheet detailing the public’s contribution to the proposed $448 million downtown sports and entertainment complex, with Kevin McCarty and Darrell Fong - both of whom expressed concern about the city’s risk and the lack of time to more closely vet the agreement - voting against the agreement.

Tuesday’s vote was the latest development in Mayor Kevin Johnson’s campaign to keep the Kings in Sacramento. The Maloofs already sold their majority interest in the team to the Seattle-based group headed by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, but the league’s other owners (as stated in the NBA by-laws) have to approve all sales and relocations. Within the past several weeks, Johnson, attempting to come up with a counter bid, has put together a potential Kings ownership group that includes billionaire Ron Burkle, 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, Golden State Warriors minority owner Vivek Ranadive and Steve Jacobs, founder of San Diego-based-Qualcomm.

– Reported by the Sacramento Bee

Basketball blog