Reporting Ron Jones
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A shocking tell-all book was just released, detailing the struggle to keep the Sacramento Kings from leaving town.
A member of Mayor Kevin Johnson’s inner circle is sharing what he calls the real story of how Johnson fought to keep the NBA team.
The big surprise is why R.E. Graswich says the mayor secretly hates the Kings, and why he called the NBA commissioner a cold, calculated godfather.
Graswich went from a Sacramento Bee columnist and CBS13 commentator to the mayor’s office as the special assistant to Johnson.
Now, his new book, “Vagrant Kings”, takes us where only the inner circle can go: behind closed doors with the real Johnson.
“I think people will find it very interesting,” said Graswich.
He says it was NBA Commissioner David Stern who fought hard for the Kings, and Johnson just fell in line.
“To do that, he employs his favorite soldier, Kevin Johnson, who happens to be our mayor. That’s what the story is about,” said Graswich.
He says the mayor was intimidated by Stern, likening him to a cold and calculated mob boss.
Graswich quotes Johnson as saying, “No joke, this dude is not normal… Normal people, they get mad, they get over it. Not this guy… You see him sitting there all cool and calm, but underneath, he’s thinking, he’s plotting… He’s like Michael from ‘The Godfather.’ You do not want to mess with this guy.”
According to the book, the mayor even rehearsed before meeting with the NBA godfather.
“Before phone conversations with Stern, Kevin was nervous. He wrote detailed notes on a yellow legal pad. He ran through mock conversations, trying to anticipate questions from the commissioner and memorize credible answers. He was anxious about getting every nuance right to impress the mentor,” Graswich writes in the book.
Then there’s a shocking revelation about Johnson’s true feelings about the Kings.
“First of all, Kevin Johnson hates the Kings. He still holds a grudge since 1987,” said Graswich. “He doesn’t like the team. He didn’t want to participate in helping them when he became mayor.”
Graswich says the mayor still holds a grudge against the Kings for not picking the then-guard in the 1987 NBA draft.
According to Graswich, Johnson asked him just last year how many times he had defeated Sacramento during his playing days with the Phoenix Suns.
“In 12 years, your record was 37 wins, 11 losses… He shot me a dirty look and said, ‘are you sure they beat us 11 times? That doesn’t sound right.’ Kevin needed to be reminded of his domination,” Graswich wrote.
However, he says Johnson’s attitude toward the Kings changed when the NCAA decided not to play anymore games at the aging Arco Arena.
Staffer Joaquin McPeek broke the news, according to Graswich.
Graswich writes, “I told him about the NCAA and he almost flew out of his chair, McPeek said. This was bigger than the Kings, the mayor realized. This was about Sacramento. It was about Kevin Johnson’s legacy.”
Several times, CBS13 has reached out to the mayor’s office for comment about the allegations in the book, but haven’t heard back.