David Stern’s retirement and its possible impact on Sacramento’s arena hopes

David Stern will no longer be the commissioner of the National Basketball Association and fans in Sacramento may have reason to be worried.

Adam Silver is set to replace the man who has been at the helm for nearly 30 years, but what does he stand for and where do his allegiances lie are questions that may not be known until the winter of 2014 when the deputy commissioner assumes the NBA reigns.

Stern has been great at many things and making the league stronger is certainly one of them. In doing so, he has been an advocate for small/medium market clubs like the Sacramento Kings. In the latest arena deal Stern clearly sided with the city and Mayor Kevin Johnson. It was never more apparent than when the Maloofs announced they were bailing on the proposed plan and held a separate, non-NBA backed news conference to plead their reasoning.

Stern has gingerly walked the line of supporting the city over the Maloofs considering the commissioner reports to the league’s 30 owners. He works for them, not the fans or cities that house these teams.

“We have differences of opinions with all of our owners,” Stern said on a conference call Thursday. “In this case with the Maloofs (it is) with some of the issues that have gone down (with the arena).”

Silver was in the same room during the discussions in Orlando and at the Board of Governors’ meeting where the Maloofs presented their case to leave Sacramento for Anaheim. Whatever was said by Silver behind those closed doors has Mayor Johnson at ease.

“Rest assure Sac, Adam Silver; Solid choice as next commissioner of the NBA.” Johnson tweeted yesterday after Stern’s announcement.

The mayor is confident, but there is no guarantee Silver remains on course. Rarely do new commissioners or CEOs at any company do everything their predecessor would, regardless of how close they are to the former leader.

Silver joined the NBA in 1992 and has served under Stern directly nearly ever since. It is safe to assume the Duke University graduate will not stray very far from Stern’s ideals, as many of them were likely born from meetings the pair had privately. With that deductive reasoning, Kings fans can put that bottle of whiskey down, but relaxing on the notion that Silver will be tough on the Maloofs like Stern has been may be a grave mistake.

The Maloofs want to keep the Kings, but that does not mean in Sacramento. The new owners of Zing Vodka will use every opportunity to sway Silver to do what is “best for the league” which in the end will mean whatever is better for the Vegas boys. Will Silver sacrifice a market for the greater good of the NBA?

Stern did it with Seattle.  Sacramento could find a similar fate under Silver.

The real chance for Sacramento to hold onto the Kings is to continue to show the rest of the league’s owners why this market should keep its beloved team.

It took a near miracle by Greg Lukenbill to get the team to California’s capital and you’ll need to find more than Jesus in order to bring a team back should the Kings leave. So send letters, emails, flowers or heck even cookies to the other 29 majority owners if you want to take your grandchildren to a Kings’ game someday.

Shipping a box to the newest commissioner won’t hurt either, but save the best batches for those who have a vote.


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