Reporting Steve Large
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Mayor Kevin Johnson says he believes Sacramento’s bid for the team will match Seattle’s and he’s feeling a rush nearing the NBA’s decision day.
“You’ve got to find a balance but there’s something about this that creates a certain adrenaline,” he said. “I’ve still got to get up in the morning, get my workouts in, church on Sunday.”
Johnson calls it a balance, but the Kings basketball saga has been more prone to the bizarre.
Johnson offered Thursday to talk to reporters from his office library. He explained that since NBA Commissioner David Stern’s shocker three weeks ago — the Sacramento team bid was substantially lower than Seattle’s $525 million offer — his whale investors have stepped up.
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“They have assured me that come April 3, come April 18, whatever number they have to do to keep the team in Sacramento, they’re willing to do that. And, that is a good thing for Sacramento,” Johnson said.
We’ve seen the number of investors grow from billionaire Ron Burkle and 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov to adding Golden State Warriors minority owner Vivek Ranadive and Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs.
“I think we’re whaled out,” the mayor said regarding anymore investors joining the team. “We knew we had more than one all along; we joined two together. I knew we’d roll out another one. I think the ‘Fab Four’ is what we’re going with.”
With the ‘Fab Four,’ the mayor is trying to dislodge a deal the Maloofs made to sell the team to Seattle. They’ve been on opposite sides of bargaining tables for years, but Johnson isn’t bashing them ahead of this NBA decision.
It has become seen as scorched-earth Sacramento Kings relationship between the mayor and the Maloofs, but Johnson says people might be surprised with their relationship.
“I actually communicate to them more than people think. We argue and get into heated discussions on should the team stay or go. We’ve been doing that for two or three years, but there’s a mutual respect,” he said.
The mayor says he even told them congratulations when they sold to Seattle.
“They sent me back and said ‘I know you’re gonna fight like crazy to keep the team in Sacramento,’ ” Johnson said. “I said ‘yes you’re right. That’s what I’m supposed to do.’ “
However, the mayor did not want to talk about his last exchange with the brothers. Simply saying, “I’m gonna keep that to myself.”
The mayor puts Sacramento’s chances of keeping the Kings at 90 percent.
“When you shoot 90 percent from the free throw line, you don’t think you’ll miss one of those free throws. I don’t feel like our community is going to miss this shot,” he said.
The mayor says he doesn’t have any plans to deliver any more surprises at the NBA meetings. He is just going to stick with his mantra: Sacramento is a better market for the NBA.