BY Art Thiel 11:40PM 05/15/2013

Thiel: Hansen can’t lose much playing hardball

The Kings aren’t coming to Seattle, but the transaction “is not over,” say Hansen and George Maloof as they search for leverage against the NBA hammer.

Responding to a question about whether Wednesday’s vote by owners wiped out Seattle’s future ability to create momentum for pursuing another team, NBA Commissioner David Stern said something intriguing. “Seattle,” he said, “will always act in its best interests.”

Spoken like the insincere, unctuous monopolist that he is, Stern used used a high-minded phrase to disguise his true meaning that Seattle tries hard but doesn’t succeed.

But it’s not the full Charlie Brown, because Seattle gets in its kicks. Stern and NBA keep  keep moving the goalposts.

By a 22-8 vote of owners Wednesday who met for four hours in a Dallas hotel, Seattle was handed its hat a second time in five years by the NBA despite, in Stern’s words, “Chris Hansen doing everything he could have done.” So what, then, was the point of the exercise?

To push Sacramento to do what Seattle did not do from 2005 to 2008 — gather wealthier local ownership to buy a franchise that can force to be built a new NBA arena with a large amount of public funds the municipality can little afford. And as side benefit, inflate the equity appreciation of the other 29 franchises.

Well done, Mr. Hansen. And the reward for being used? A commitment to an expansion team, right?

No.

“Just our promise of fair dealing,” said Stern, “and ultimate consideration on our part.”

Whoo. Hoo. That and $3 won’t even get service at Howard Schultz’s little coffee shop.

The fact that none of this can be a surprise does not lessen the emotional impact for fans of Seattle pro hoops, not to mention Hansen and his buddy, Steve Ballmer. Which helps explain why Hansen, responding with cool defiance on his website sonicsarena.com after the vote, wrote that he “looks forward to hearing back on our agreement to join the Maloofs as limited partners in the Kings.”

That refers to his “backup” deal announced Saturday, in anticipation of being denied relocation, to buy 20 percent of the franchise from the owners, the Maloof family, for $115 million, as they continue to operate the team in Sactown.

Stern, on the other hand, believes the Maloof family will come to their few senses and sell their 65 percent share of the team to the Sacramento group led by Vivek Ranadive for $341 million, instead of the $406 million offered by Hansen. Apparently, the Maloofs are as dim as everyone keeps saying.

“It is my expectation that we’ll be able to make a deal with the Maloofs and the Ranadive group to transfer title of the team in Sacramento,” Stern said. “It’s not a certainty, but we’re going to work (toward) that result.”

The positions of Hansen and Stern are in direct conflict. And as the cartel leader, Stern seems fated to win, because the NBA claims the right to veto minority owners as well as majority owners.

I wrote Monday that Hansen’s “backup”  bid was a misstep because even if it worked, the outcome potentially was too much like the wretched, but NBA-approved, ownership of the Sonics by Clay Bennett, who spent two years tearing down the team and pulling it away from the community in preparation for the 2008 relocation to Oklahoma City.

But seeing that Hansen didn’t get so much as a potted plant for his efforts, and presuming  the Maloofs are smart enough to figure out that $406 million is more than $341 million, what could it hurt? Are the Maloofs going to have another gold star ripped from their NBA epaulets? Will Hansen be fined by a league to which he does not belong? Will Seattle be denied a team a day past forever?

Yes, even to a Seattle resident, the idea of keeping the Maloofs around another year is unpleasant. And the idea of Hansen partnering with them to help move forward the infant arena plan is as insufferable in Sacramento as Bennett was here in 2007 stomping around the weeds of the Muckleshoot wetlands claiming to be looking for an arena site.

But really, that isn’t the point. The point is to have some leverage right now. Hansen had a deal with the Maloofs, and neither party feels compelled to go away yet. But they probably would, if the NBA offered a commitment to a 2014-15 expansion team so that the arena project can move ahead.

Sacramento no more deserved to lose the Kings than Seattle deserved to lose the Sonics, a plan set in motion in 2005 when Stern nudged his pal Bennett into the face of then-owner Schultz. Neither city was a bad basketball market; they were both victims of desperate, foolish owners.

But the NBA takes no responsibility; it merely takes advantage. That view would ebb if the NBA decided to make good with a bidder “who did everything he could” and his partner, whom Stern called “the prototypical NBA owner.”

But that would mean losing a tool against the next city who needed help with its “incumbency” in a cash-strapped municipality.


YourThoughts

  • Michael Kaiser

    Art says, “So what, then, was the point of the exercise?
    To push Sacramento to do what Seattle did not do from 2005 to 2008 — gather wealthier local ownership to buy a franchise that can force to be built a new NBA arena with a large amount of public funds the municipality can little afford. And as side benefit, inflate the equity appreciation of the other 29 franchises.”

    Hooterville, get over yourself. You stepped into this yourself. No one came and got you.

    “Well done, Mr. Hansen. And the reward for being used? A commitment to an expansion team, right?”

    Used? Excuse me? And who wanted to steal another city’s team. Wow. There is some real cognitive detachment from reality going on.

    “But seeing that Hansen didn’t get so much as a potted plant for his efforts, and presuming the Maloofs are smart enough to figure out that $406 million is more than $341 million, what could it hurt [to push for minority ownership of the Kings]?

    And exactly what did Hansen deserve? Ah, the age of entitlement. The guy came out of nowhere and tried to steal another town’s team. Let us get a few things straight.

    The NBA does not have to give Seattle anything. And any litigation will be extremely short-lived. Perhaps even decided by summary judgment The Maloofs, and Hanson, knew the rules. The NBA determines who becomes an owner. The Maloofs made the mistake of engaging Hanson before assessing if the deal had a chance passing the NBA’s muster. What the Maloofs and Hanson wanted to do was huge, and they actually thought they could pull it off under the radar? What complete, delusional fools if they even really thought that.

    And as for Hanson and Balmer continuing to pursue this. After being punked again and again, just how far further can the two of them bend over.

    • Tim

      “What the Maloofs and Hanson wanted to do was huge, and they actually thought they could pull if off under the radar.”

      Ah, now you get to write your own version of history and gloat about it. Yes, what they sought to do was huge but instead of hyperbole–”the guy came out of nowhere and tried to steal another town’s team,”–why not be at least honest. Bennett, with Stern’s blessing did something huge to Seattle a few years ago, and it was so under the radar that we still don’t know what hit us. Chris Hansen was doing business the NBA way and merely following standard protocol to buy a team, and he got used and burned.

      BTW, while I’m happy for the city of Sacramento for keeping the Kings and would much prefer expansion anyway, I wouldn’t have felt too much sympathy for them given how they, as you would put it, “stole” a team from Kansas City that they now cherish as their own.

      Have fun dancing in the street all by your smug self.

      • Michael Kaiser

        Rewrite history? I was saying from day one that Hooterville was not getting the Kings. And your opining on what Bennet “did . . . to Seattle a few years ago” is nothing but your opinion. Seattle blew it. Take responsibility. Stern would have liked nothing more than to have seen the Sonics work in Seattle. And as for “preferring expansion,” don’t hold your breath.

        • Tim

          I get that you hate the city of Seattle and probably the Northwest but you have an overinflated opinion of yourself. You’ve got the nerve to say what Bennett did to Seattle is nothing but my opinion followed by your opinion that Stern would have liked nothing more than to have seen the Sonics work in Seattle. Wow. Aren’t we all expressing our opinions here on this forum? Here’s another opinion of mine: you’re a head case–case closed.

    • Bawbert

      Wow, this is something new – a post with simmering anger filled with uninformed information. Under the radar? Chris Hansen was up front from the very beginning in regard to what he had planned. From the beginning he was in contact with the NBA, jumping through whatever hoops they asked. It just so happened that David Stern guided KJ and the Sac group through the same hoops and as he repeated yesterday – “the incumbent team” did what was necessary to keep the team. HBN did nothing to lose the Kings, Sac did what it took to KEEP the team.
      The HBN group did everything the NBA asked, which is why they are deserving of at least a promise…

      • Michael Kaiser

        Simmering anger? I love what happened to Hooterville. Sorry, buddy, but anger is the last thing I am feeling right now. And while Stern may or may not have provided some level of guidance to Hanson and company out of courtesy, the Kings never were going anywhere, and only fools would have believed otherwise, regardless of whether Stern, in his capacity as Commissioner of the NBA, extended basic, essentially boilerplate-type background guidance, to Hanson and company. Lord, how many people have been living this circus for the past several months? Pathetic.

        • art thiel

          Michael, you forgot your rule. You’re responding to those beneath you.

          • joe

            You know this guy?

    • Playhouse

      Came out of nowhere? He’s been working on this plan for the better part of three years, with the NBA’s full knowledge. It’s not for nothing that Think Big composed their letter to Hansen back in February of last year threatening him to not come after the Kings. The NBA, and from what it sounds like Stern personally, introduced Hansen to the Maloofs and did advise them through the process leading to their PSA. Just because you didn’t see it coming doesn’t mean that there weren’t significant measures known by most of the parties involved throughout the last year leading to this point.

      • Michael Kaiser

        Perhaps I should have stated it a bit differently. Sure, there was discussion on what teams might be available for Seattle. And certainly the name Sacramento came up. That of course is also when I told Art that from what I had heard, the Kings were going nowhere. Art responded, “Things can change,” or something along those lines. Still, that was a HUGE cry from actually inking a deal to take the Kings from Sacramento. And I am sorry, I did not live this circus, I just knew that Seattle never had a chance, and so I never heard of “Think Big.”

        • art thiel

          From my Jan. 28 column, shortly after the Hansen-Maloof deal:

          “All is possible; Hansen has shown extraordinary patience and skill in maneuvering a difficult project to get this far, this fast. But now,
          there are people beyond the Mariners and the Port of Seattle who don’t want him to succeed; rich people who may like basketball in their town as much he likes his in Seattle.

          Getting back together with the ex is never easy. Much must be forgiven and forgotten. And the way forward may be harder still.”

  • 3 Lions

    Is that the play button on Maloofs face or a clown nose?

  • Gimmeabreak

    I’m a first-generation Sonics fan (attended game 4 in 1979 with another former P-I circulation department employee – carbon-dating myself). I also have strong family ties in the Sacramento area. I no longer live in either city, but understand both sides. Much as the idea of a Sonics Rebirth appeals, I’m happy for all the Kings fans I know.
    Seattle needs to collectively tell the Hansen-Ballmer group that it is either expansion or nothing, and on Hansen-Ballmer’s terms. If the NBA thinks they hurt the 12th largest media market in the country by witholding their product to satisfy the Commish’s spite trip, then there’s usually more than enough going on at Safeco Field, Century Link Field, Husky Stadium and Edmondson Pavilion.

  • Jack Mama

    Still seems like a soap opera of a situation after watching Maloof’s interview here. I think Kevin Johnson certainly put together a viable ownership group to keep the team in Sacramento, but the economics behind his proposed arena plan seems extremely sketchy. There is a detailed analysis of the proposed Sactown arena plan on fieldofschemes.com, it cited that the real city subsidy could actually be in the $330 million range, unlike the $258 million number being touted publicly. You would assume that the NBA might be wary of this plan too because if it comes to a public vote then you can bet the voters of Sactown will reject it. It seems pretty obvious, the arena situation in Seattle is much more sound and likely to happen, but since the NBA is still supporting the Kings in Sac, it leads one to speculate that perhaps this really does come down to some amateurish personal grudge Stern, and perhaps Bennett as well, has against the city of Seattle. What a joke the NBA is in reality..

    • uolj

      The arena plan in Sac is very similar to the plan that the NBA negotiated and approved last year with Sacramento, the Maloofs and AEG. So I wouldn’t expect the NBA to be skeptical of this year’s plan after all the work they put into designing the framework for it.

      That fact also kind of counters Art’s point that Hansen bid forced Sacramento to build an arena. It was the Maloofs who canceled the arena plan. All Hansen’s bid did is force Sacramento owners to bid high enough that the Maloofs would get out of debt and be willing to sell.

      • Jack Mama

        I understand it is similar to last years proposal and it is just as fiscally questionable a move for Sacramento this year as it was last year; this is a city with a nearly 15% unemployment rate and on the risk of a credit downgrade according to Forbes’ 20 worst run cities in America and the Mayor seems to think a 300 plus million subsidy is a good idea right now.

        • http://twitter.com/madzillagd Nacho

          CA has 58 counties – 2 of the richest counties (#6 and #7) sit on the outskirts of Sacramento. The first five are in the Bay Area, you won’t find a SoCal county until #9. Sac County is all the way down at #27. You can look at the #s regarding unemployment in Sacramento and the city budget and think this city can’t afford to do this, but you’d be wrong. There is wealth in the Sac area, it just doesn’t live in Sac city and it doesn’t spend it’s money in Sac city at night.
          This downtown arena changes that dynamic forever. Residents of two of the richest counties in CA (the 8th largest economy in the world) will now use downtown Sacramento as their playground and pump money into this city like they’ve never done in the past. That is a huge coup for downtown Sac and this investment will reap dividends for decades to come.

          • Playhouse

            Well, I hope that works out for you guys. The math isn’t in your favor in the slightest, so don’t be surprised to see very different terms negotiated for the final agreement and transaction documents.

          • http://twitter.com/madzillagd Nacho

            For the team or for the bonds for the arena? As for the team, they were valued at $300M last year before Hansen’s $525M offer. Vivek might come up a little just to close the deal faster but he won’t have to come up much because the Maloofs have no leverage now that the team can’t move out of Sac. They know offers only go down from here and if they don’t sell now they’ll never get a $525 valuation again.

            As for the bonds, this is chump change for the firm handling this transaction. That process will go off without a hitch.

          • zigzags

            First you gotta pay for it. I don’t know about you, but an arena plan slapped together last minute, dependent upon parking revenues and money from a bankrupt government, seems a little flimsy to me.

          • art thiel

            Actually, it’s the kids and grandkids who always pay for these kinds of projects.

          • art thiel

            I get why this development is important to a decaying downtown of a capital city. And if it is supported by political leadership and a majority of citizens, good on alla yers.

            It’s why Seattle taxpayers built the Kingdome — on spec, no less. But those days are gone for most municipalities. And the questions always linger about whether the private sector can do the whole project. If the wealth is there as you describe, that will be a central theme of the opposition, especially with Sactown’s economic troubles.

        • uolj

          The plan doesn’t call for taking any money out of existing projects, so negative effects on the local economy would be minimal. Plus, keeping the Kings and building the new arena and surrounding development would actually help the economy.

          Sacramento isn’t helping to build the arena in spite of the local economy, it is doing it to help the local economy.

          I think the point is that if it does come to a vote (which is unlikely) Sacramento would approve it, and the NBA has done its due diligence and approved basically the same plan before Hansen or Seattle ever got involved. The idea that this decision is based on a personal grudge is silly.

          • art thiel

            But parking is revenue foregone, just as Seattle’s plan contains tax forgiveness. They are both subsidies.

            I have not said the Stern or NBA made a business decision based a grudge. I do say he has been inconsistent, contradictory and condescending. And he understood that introducing Bennett to Schultz would start the manipulation that would lead to a city to subsidizing the franchise (turns out it was OKC).

      • art thiel

        Different location, with lots more landowners and complications. And the public subsidy was under the same challenge by activists as the new plan. The opponents didn’t get far because the Maloofs quit on the plan, infuriating Stern.

        Sern wanted new owners and new leverage. Enter Hansen.

    • jafabian

      KJ had a LOT of help putting together this group though. Most of the work was by Stern. And AFTER Hansen’s group made their offer. Is that collusion?

      • art thiel

        Stern works for the owners. It’s his job to make franchises better, and not necessarily to make more franchises. That doesn’t excuse his mendacity and duplicity.

    • art thiel

      Lots of questions that will have to be answered on Sactown arena, which is why Hansen is probably stunned that, for whatever reasons, he was rejected.

      There is enormous pressure on KJ to deliver.

      • Colin Powell

        KJ was an all-star in the NBA. Now he’s an all-star in Sactown politics. It figures…they get him, we get Greg Nickels and Schultz. Anyone for drafting Fred Brown for Mayor? (Hey, it almost worked for James Dionaldson.)

  • Jdub

    I still remember ol’ Steve Kelley’s column in the Times right when purchase agreement announced, and he said throughout it was OK to celebrate Sonics fans! Probably wishes he had that one back. I still don’t quite know how we lost.

  • Matt712

    I still can’t get it out of my head. It keeps ringing in my ears. If there were any doubt left of Stern’s continued disdain for Seattle, one need only recall his completely uncalled-for, snide and downright evil opening remark about heading to a game in OKC as he stepped to the podium. It rendered everything that came out of his mouth thereafter smug and disingenuous – neither becoming of commissioner nor a gentleman. Fortunately, of the former, he is almost over. As for the latter, he never was. Mr. Silver, please, please be different.

    • art thiel

      A cheap shot beneath his previous minimum. He’s too smart to be oblivious.

      • Larry Barr

        I actually thought the purple ties that Stern / Silver wore at the Spurs game the night before the vote was also and intentional insult toward Seattle and rubbing it in on the pending vote. One hopes Karma plays a significant role in the payback David Stern so richly deserves.

  • jafabian

    I’m still annoyed at Sterno’s “I have a game to get to in OKC” comment. That’s like drinking a beer in front of a recovering alcoholic. Classless.
    I don’t believe the NBA will approve Hansen’s group as minority owners, stating that letting that happen would contradict they’re voting to not relocate the Kings and they have stated that they have an agenda to bring the NBA back to Seattle. In fact, since Sterno has hand picked his successor, rather than having the NBA do the usual search for one and then voting on the hire, I have my doubts that Seattle will get a franchise anytime soon, whether it be the Sacramento arena deal falling thru or the Bucks or another franchise becoming available. Depends on how much Adam Silver is a yes man to Sterno’s legacy.
    Not sure I’m totally supportive of following the path that Clay-Clay established either. That of purchasing the Kings and demanding a Taj Mahal type arena that the city/county/state can’t possibly match and then moving the franchise though that is the precedent set in ALL professional sports. (Colts, Browns, Warriors, Nets, Islanders, etc) Even the Kings themselves followed that route from Kansas City. And going forward with the arena is no guarantee since cities like KC and Vancouver among others have NBA ready facilities anre are in large markets but no team. If the NBA is going to turn down more than half a billion dollars AND a secure arena deal I don’t see what more can be done here. IMO, Hansen should pursue an NHL franchise and if the NBA door opens again, great. If it doesn’t, life goes on. At some point no means no. And that’s the message the NBA has been sending since 2008.
    Disappointed in the minimal national coverage on this. The NBA has thrown its weight around and made arrogant moves for awhile now as well as contradicted itself time and again. Approve moving to OKC, Brooklyn and SF but deny returning to Seattle? You’d think that would be a story right there.
    I’d like to see the Maloof’s sell to Larry Ellison now. Just to make things more entertaining..

    • art thiel

      The 20 percent play by Hansen was a final act of desperation, and a familiar one by students of Ballmer, who has had Microsoft do the minority buy with companies it wants. Doesn’t work with monopolies.

      Basketball media is busy with the playoffs.

  • Leon Russell

    “The point is to have some leverage right now”
    Hansen has no leverage at all. He never did. The NBA is in total control of this situation. That “backup” offer from Hansen is not worth the paper it is written on, because the NBA can simply reject it. Then where would the Maloofs be? Stuck in Sacramento with no new arena, no money, and no fans. Seriously, who has the “leverage” here?
    Hansen has nothing. He is no factor whatsoever in the future of the Sacramento Kings, unless the Ranadive or arena proposal in Sacramento falls apart.

    • zigzags

      His money was the leverage. The Hansen group would win in a bidding war, which is why Stern moved the relocation vote first, ahead of the vote on the sale, so the NBA isn’t forced to tell the Maloofs they have to sell for $60 million less (and bring up some serious anti-trust issues).

  • Leon Russell

    “and presuming the Maloofs are smart enough to figure out that $406 million is more than $341 ”
    You forgot to include Hansen’s $30 million “non-refundable” deposit. That would make it $371 million if the Maloofs sell to Ranadive, if the Maloofs kept Hansen’s deposit. Which is still a gap, but not as large.
    And, that $406 is no longer on the table. That agreement has been terminated.
    Why is it that everyone, particularly Mayor Johnson and Stern, seems absolutely certain that the Maloofs are going to sell to Ranadive, and probably within the next couple of days? They both have been right every step of the way, so far. Everyone, including the Maloofs, says that the Maloofs have been negotiating a deal with Ranadive for quite some time, already. The Maloofs only public complaint about the Ranadive offer was that they didn’t believe the Ranadive group actually had the money. But, now Ranadive says the full amount has been put into escrow. So that problem has been solved.
    And, I didn’t hear Hansen/Ballmer making any comments about “we still have options”. Just a lame reference to their offer to buy 20%, which the NBA can simply reject.
    I would think the Maloofs would want to take the cash now and get out of town.

    • art thiel

      The $30M will be refunded to Hansen, reported a few weeks ago.

      The Maloofs are negotiating to sell to Ranadive. As I wrote, Hansen was seeking leverage for a commitment to expansion. The NBA goals were to push Sacramento into an arena deal and get rid the the Maloofs. Mission accomplishing.

  • Hammtime

    No surprises here. I think most people expected this to happen.
    As for you Mr. Stern, here’s hoping you come down with a case of flesh eating virus in a very sensitive and private area.

    • art thiel

      You’re strict.

    • Colin Powell

      Before or after I kick him there repeatedly?

  • Leon Russell

    “Thiel: Hansen can’t lose much playing hardball”
    What is Thiel’s definition of “playing hardball”? Offering to by 20% of the Kings from the Maloofs? lol That is “playing hardball”? Wow. I can almost see Stern shaking in his boots over that.

  • 1coolguy

    Let’s all remember if SCHULTZ had sold to a local owner none of this would have transpired and we would still have the Sonics.

    I don’t blame Stern at all – as commissioner, he should try to keep teams in their local market.

    We all know Seattle didn’t come up with a local owner and frankly, it’s a shame Schultz bailed out.

    The Sonics were MISERABLE under Schultz’ ownership and why he never replaced WALLY WALKER is totally beyond me.

    Walker was the NBA version of Lincoln and Armstrong for the Mariners – how in the world did he keep his job with the miserable record the Sonics had, including the poor draft choices.

    • jafabian

      Wally didn’t have the kind of authority he did under Schultz. Schultz was twice the hands on owner that Barry Ackerley was which is weird because Wally is the one who introduced Ackerley and Schultz when Ackerley said he wanted to sell the team. His record is excellent. But he wasn’t GM under Schultz, only team president. GM and Basketball Operations under Schultz was ran by Rick Sund.

      • 1coolguy

        The president hires the GM, so I guess to be most accurate, if I were Schultz I would have let BOTH of them go. With the Sonic’s miserable performance, it adversely affected the value of the team, so they both should have been replaced.
        This makes it an even more compelling comparison to Lincoln and Armstrong.

      • art thiel

        Wally was president under Ackerley and Schultz and when the Sonics went to the 96 Finals as well as to the near bottom.

        • Colin Powell

          Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Too bad Walker couldn’t find either of his.

    • zigzags

      You are correct that this all started with Howard Schultz. In the end, it all comes back to him.

      But THIS David Stern, the one bending over backwards to keep the Kings in Sacramento, is a completely different person from the one we saw in 2008. Yes, our politicians are the reason he has held a grudge and didn’t think twice as the Sonics moved to OKC.

      But at some point Stern has to grow up. Let it go. There are new players in the game in Seattle and they did everything he asked of Seattle in 2008 (and then some). And yet he still holds a grudge. Personally I love his little jabs such as when he began yesterday’s press conference: “I have to make this quick because there’s a basketball game in Oklahoma City.”

      Just a classless dude, through and through.

      • art thiel

        He’ll never forget I-91, and Seattle should never forget Howard Schultz.

        • Colin Powell

          aka Seattle SuperSchmuck. Which is ironic, since it’s doubtful he even has one.

    • Trygvesture

      Uhhh, I was surprised to read that Walker is in cahoots with HansBalm… maybe there’s time to change that alliance, too.

    • art thiel

      Stern had a reasonable business purpose in keeping the Kings in Sactown. But he’s been working the new arena deal there for almost a decade without success until Hansen came along and scared the crap out of Sactown. Hansen and Seattle were used. Let’s call it what it was.

      • 1coolguy

        Hansen should have gotten the relocation PRE-APPROVED then moved forward. He put the cart before the horse, which resulted in this long, dragged out process that also gave Sactown time to rally the local troops.

        He sort of painted himself in a box. After awhile, I don’t doubt the NBA owners got tired of the pushing, including by Balmer, and once Sactown found their white knights were relieved to simply let it be.

        There will be other failing teams whose local markets cannot support them and if Hansen gets an NBA pre-approval for the move, it should be a timely process.

        • Larry Barr

          The NBA put Hansen and the Maloofs together in the first place. Maybe not “pre-approved” but certainly “pre-encouraged.”

  • Eric Delfel

    Everything in the NBA is fixed, from the refs giving superstar calls to Donnaghy. Why would we expect this game to be any different. Seattle played by its rules in 2008 and lost a team. We played by the NBA’s rules in 2013 and lost: trouble is that it’s only Stern’s rules that matter, and he’s a spiteful, petty man.

    • art thiel

      You left out Game 7 of the Sonics playoff series with the Suns, who had more free throws than IRS has problems.

      • Indigo Montoya

        why would the nba care if the sonics or suns win, as long as MJ and the bulls are there to face either team in the ratings-friendly finals? i realize sir charles carries more viewers than shawn kemp, but still….

        • mckoosa

          Because Barkley was JUST The MVP of the NBA that year,ahead of MJ himself,that’s all…also, this was only 8-9 months post “Dream Team” in Barcelona…and neither Kemp,and particularely Gary Payton had arrived yet as All Stars,and in GP’s case, Hall of Famer…..Jordan and Barkley were golfing buddies, PHX was loaded with talent, and the ’93 Sonics were led by aging Ricky Pierce and Eddie Johnson along with a morose D.Mckey and the young, yet to reach their potentials, Kemp and Payton….PHX vs. The Bulls was the WAY more sexier matchup…for the NBA,NBC and Worldwide….not even close

  • http://twitter.com/rdog0121 Rob Meston

    Very well said, Art. I have been saying all along…buy the minority ownership (if we can get it) and wait just like Bennett did…then pounce when all the cards come tumbling down next year in Sacramento. Exactly what Bennett did.

    • art thiel

      Bennett was a minority shareholder of the Spurs, but bought the whole Sonics from Schultz. Bennett played the role of grateful acolyte with the Spurs and helped the Hornets after Katrina. He sucked up to Stern so hard it affected the tides.

  • Tony Uskurs

    Completely agree with this article. Somehow have to find the leverage to force the NBA’s hand. Especially with a mayoral race coming up soon.Nothing’s guaranteed.

    • art thiel

      Hansen’s urgency is justified, but his timetable is not the NBA’s timetable regarding expansion.

      Not sure Hansen has leverage, which makes it all the more galling for fans.

      • 1coolguy

        NBA has ZERO need to expand: Why introduce MORE owners who will compete with one another to bid up salaries? That simply doesn’t make sense. Hansen simply needs to wait until there is truly a failed team and then buy it, after getting the NBA’s relocation approval.

  • zigzags

    Well said. I also agree that the “back-up plan” was a little questionable, as it immediately put a bad taste in the owners’ mouths — the same people who would have to approve the minority ownership anyway.

    Ultimately, since the NBA has proven it does not value honesty, it probably would have been better for Hansen to privately feed money to the Maloofs to allow them to keep the team for a while longer. Let them do the dirty work of running the team into the ground, make a false attempt at an arena, let it fail, then apply for relocation and ultimately sell the team to Hansen.

    Is it dirty? Yes. Is it shameful? Yes. Is it the “NBA way?” Absolutely.

  • FordFairlane

    I do still like the idea of Hansen as a minority owner in the Kings for a few reasons:

    1. It took a remarkable selling job for Kevin Johnson to get the buy-in for the new area project. I’d like to know how much of his sales pitch was based on the promise of getting the Maloofs out of the picture? Will all of the parties involved be willing to extend themselves if once again it’s the Maloofs they’re bankrolling?

    2. I didn’t know who they were, but I was sure before this was over we’d hear from some CA version of Chris Van Dyk, and I see now that the vote is official, there are groups coming out of the woodwork to torpedo the project. We know from experience how many roadblocks these groups can throw in front of an arena.

    3. From Clay Bennett (minority owner of the Spurs to owner of the Thunder) to Vivek Ranadive (minority owner of the Warriors to future(?) owner of the Kings), we see a stark contrast in how the NBA treats members of the family vs. outsiders. Money talks, but these guys are all rich so it then comes down to relationships. The pattern here suggests Hansen might have a leg up on expansion if he’s already a minority owner of an existing team.

    • art thiel

      Story just posted says the Maloofs are apparently giving in to Sactown.

      Arena has a lot of obstacles in Sactown, and Hansen knows it. But the NBA isn’t prepared to have him part of the fix, and I get that.

      As far as relationships, you’re right. Ask every successful businessman.

      • 1coolguy

        Maybe to establish themselves in this way, Hansen and Balmer, etc, should buy a share of Allen’s Trailblazers. Then they are part of the club.
        Hopefully the Balmer/Allen blood is good.

  • Walt Kennedy

    Seriously, Arthur T.? As a Portlander/Blazer fan, I have no desire for (misplaced) hubris-laden Seattle to receive an NBA team….however, Stern all but placed an expansion team on Seattle’s doorstep in his comments (‘we’ll visit it later’ [when the TV deals are in play--basically now])…further, as much as you all hate Stern (actually, I can understand why), hello, he will be retired and living the sweet life in, I dunno, SoCal? South Beach?…I’m pretty sure y’all prefer soon-to-be-Commish Silver to Stern….or, maybe I’m misreading the expansion issue….but, I don’t think I am.

    • art thiel

      Stern said in 08 to play nice and drop the suit or you’ll never see Danny Fortson again. So Seattle dropped the lawsuit in the interest of good relations with the NBA — and fear that they wouldn’t win a simple landlord-tenant lawsuit.

      His words on expansion Weds were as thin as 08. Hansen can’t move forward on the MOU for the arena on Stern’s grin. Basically most owners don’t want more partners.

  • ReebHerb

    Wouldn’t the Trailblazers be a better team to poach? Paul Allen would probably prefer to consolidate his holdings in Seattle and skip the 757 ride to Portland to see his team play. The media market is larger than Portland and these arenas aren’t the cash cows once thought to be; for example the Rose Garden bankruptcy. A modest cozy arena in Factoria would be perfect for the TV market (Charter Communication). Sodo belongs to a working waterfront.

    • art thiel

      Nice try, Reeb. Allen doesn’t need to compete against himself.

    • jafabian

      Allen probably takes his yacht to Portland.

  • zigzags

    At least when Seattle does get a team, we’ll now have 2 new bitter rivals in OKC and Sacramento.

    • art thiel

      Can’t hate on Sactown. They did what they had to. It may not work financially, but that is rarely what a city’s ardor for pro sports is about.

      • zigzags

        Agreed. It just gets old reading all the nasty comments about Seattle coming from Sactown on other message boards.