One of the leading prospects in Sacramento’s efforts to bid on the Kings met with the NBA commissioner yesterday.  Sam Amick of USA Today reports that Ron Burkle had a meeting with David Stern in New York that was facilitated by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson on Thursday.

Stern has had consistent communication with Sacramento mayor and former NBA point guard Kevin Johnson during this situation, but his decision to grant Burkle a meeting is seen by Johnson’s camp as the latest sign that — despite the widely held belief the team will wind up in Seattle — their effort is being legitimized by the league. Stern has already indicated publicly that he will allow Johnson to make his case to the Board of Governors before they decide on the Seattle bid.

Burkle has been linked to JMA Ventures, a real estate investment firm based that owns the Downtown Shopping Plaza.  According to Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee, Burkle advocated to Stern that an arena be built at the shopping mall site.

Reports surfaced earlier this week that Burkle is in serious talks to partner with 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov in a bid for the Kings.  Burkle’s purported interest in the Kings dates back to 2011.  When the Maloofs were on the verge of filing for relocation to Anaheim, Johnson presented the supermarket billionaire as a prospective buyer to the NBA’s Board of Governors.