There's no question that money talks in the NBA, especially when it comes to matters of relocation. A money-generating arena, sponsorship dollars, television deals and season ticket holder bases: these are the factors by which owners and the league evaluate markets.
Sacramento, a market that was thought to lose its team to Anaheim next season, reportedly received some great news on the money front on Tuesday, when Mayor Kevin Johnson met with NBA officials and local businesses to help demonstrate the community's financial support for keeping the Kings in Northern California.
The Sacramento Bee reports that, following the meeting, Johnson announced that millions of dollars in sponsorship money had been pledged with the goal of keeping the Kings in Sacramento through next season.
The $10 million in business pledges aimed to show the NBA that Sacramento could financially support the team, and to convince the league to keep the Kings here rather than allowing them to move to Anaheim.
This morning, Johnson said, Sacramento businesses "made a down payment on the Sacramento Kings and this being their permanent home." Companies committing to support the team included Sleep Train, Golden One Credit Union, Zoom Imaging Solutions and Arden Fair Mall.
"We are for real and we are here to support the NBA and the Kings --not just for this year, but for many years to come," said Matt Mahood, president and CEO of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.The Maloof family, which owns the Kings, had taken steps to relocate the team to Anaheim and re-name it the Anaheim Royals. Now, suddenly, they are virtually invisible, with the NBA and local politicians essentially conducting their business for them.
These developments have led SacTownRoyalty.com to ask some big questions, such as: "Who is running the Sacramento Kings?"
Note the continued absence of the Maloof family in all of this. These sponsorships were pledged to the Sacramento Kings, owned and operated by the Maloofs, a member of the NBA. These businesses pledged this money because KJ told them that otherwise, the Kings would be gone. The NBA has the power to tell the Maloofs they must keep the Kings here in Sacramento, and to wield that power wants to ensure that KJ isn't selling wolf tickets. Again: it's a reasonable quest.
But collecting local sponsor money is usually a task left for the team. In fact, I cannot think of any instance in which the NBA would collect local sponsor money for a team that doesn't deal with an NBA takeover of a team (hello, New Orleans) and a situation where the local owners have become so poisonous that the NBA would rather take the time and bear the expense to basically do the owners' job for them.The NBA should be commended for standing up for Kings fans and the Sacramento market, regardless of whether their actions are motivated in part by a skepticism towards the Maloofs, a desire to prevent an over-saturation of the Los Angeles market or other outside reasons.
In such an unstable situation -- in the Sacramento market, its ownership group and in the league as a whole -- the less change, the better. That makes the hard money put up by Johnson and the Sacramento businesses that much more important and influential.