Reporting Nick Janes
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – On Monday, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson finally addressed claims in a new book that says he hates the Kings.
The arrival of Shaquille O’Neal isn’t the only thing making news on the Kings front. The tell-all book paints a surprising picture of the mayor, who is now pushing back.
“Haven’t seen it, haven’t read it, and don’t have any comment,” Johnson said.
Still, we had to ask the mayor, does he really harbor ill will toward the team he’s credited with saving?
“First of all, Kevin Johnson hates the Kings,” author R.E. Graswich said.
The former special assistant to the mayor claims in his book — “Vagrant Kings” — the grudge dates back to 1987, when the team passed up on Johnson in the NBA draft.
The mayor had a clear, two-word response.
“That’s absurd,” he said.
Graswich, also a former Sacramento Bee columnist and CBS13 commentator, says the mayor was intimidated by NBA Commissioner David Stern, comparing him to a 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.”
Graswich paints Stern as the real driving force behind keeping the team in town, not the mayor.
“I can’t comment on a book I haven’t read, but what I will say is that…certainly for our project here in Sacramento, he’s been a champion for smaller and mid-size markets. So I don’t think anyone would dispute his involvement and his commitment,” said Johnson.
That’s all the mayor would say. He is clearly dismissive of a book that paints a very different picture of him behind closed doors.
In the book, Graswich also said that Johnson once compared Stern’s behavior to that of a mafia godfather.
The mayor did not say if he has any plans to read the book.