Notes and quotes: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s press conference on Kings to Seattle rumors

A defiant Kevin Johnson took to the podium at City Hall today to address the latest rumors surrounding the Kings future in Sacramento.  Though reports spread like wildfire about a near done-deal to sell the team to the ownership group based out of Seattle, the mayor addressed media with a confident and optimistic outlook.

“Today is a significant day for our community because it is the first time it appears that the Sacramento Kings are for sale,” Johnson said in the impromptu press conference.

He added: “I’m going to make every effort that I can possibly do to identify a potential buyer that would ensure that the Sacramento Kings remain in Sacramento.”

Here are some substantial notes and quotes from today’s presser, including audio of the mayor’s entire 20 minute meeting with reporters.

  • It’s been almost two years to the day since reports surfaced of the Kings’ previous attempt to move to Anaheim.  The mayor reminded the community that they’ve experienced this kind of drama in the past.  “We’ve been here before.  We’ve been here when it came to Anaheim, and we know how close they were to moving to Anaheim.  We’ve been here before when it comes to Virginia Beach – we’ve all heard those rumors swirling around.  And now there’s one in Seattle.  We have said all along that we should be in control of our own destiny and I think this gives a tremendous opportunity to do that. “
  • Johnson reminded reporters of the three scenarios he mapped out involving the team’s future in Sacramento – same team, same owners, same team, new owners and new team, new owners.  Because the deal in Seattle is not yet final, Johnson is optimistic he can find an ownership group to put in a bid on behalf of Sacramento.  “Right now, what appears to be in play is scenario two – same team, new owner.  And we’re going to do everything possible to be in the driver seat and to participate.”
  • The mayor also touched on Sacramento’s never-say-die spirit.  “You guys know that Sacramento has a fighting spirit.  Our fans show up every game and they fight tirelessly for their team.  Our community has had their back against the wall on more than one occasion and this is going to be no different.  We’ve done the impossible.  We kept the team from going to Anaheim.  We came up with a financing plan last year that was a win for the Maloofs, it was a win for the NBA and it was a win for the city and here we are with another opportunity.  And I expect us to do everything that we can possibly do to come out victorious.  There is no guarantees in this scenario, (but) we’re gonna fight and we’re used to being in this situation.”
  • Johnson wouldn’t speculate on the reported sale price of $500 million, but he believes it would be more cost-efficient to keep the team in Sacramento.  “From our standpoint in Sacramento, we believe it’s cheaper to stay here in Sacramento.  It won’t cost as much.  We’re a proven market.  Our fans and our community have done everything that was asked of us over the last two years and more.  In fact, we’ve exceeded the expectations in a down economy.”
  • The former All-Star point guard is interested in finding an ownership group similar to the one that saved the San Francisco Giants from leaving the bay.  “A local came group together and they said we can partner with people who have money that aren’t from the bay area, but there’s going to be a local presence.  That will be the model that we’re going to explore here in Sacramento.”
  • Has the mayor contacted the commissioner? “I called David Stern probably an hour or two ago.  I have not talked to David Stern.  So again, here’s my commitment to you guys and the NBA in general – every time a rumor comes our way, I don’t call the commissioner on it.  That’s just not the right thing to do.”
  • Has the mayor contacted the Maloofs? “I communicated with a couple of the Maloof brothers within the last week or so.  I reached out to two of them today and I have not talked to them.”
  • On once again reaching out to billionaire magnate Ron Burkle to buy and keep the team in Sacramento: “He and I consistently have a conversation, so that is why I guess I’m answering it slightly different. Burkle was in discussions about a possibility a year ago or two years ago when we were there.  And we’ve always stayed in constant contact.”
  • The mayor said he’s had conversations with other parties interested in buying and keeping the Kings in Sacramento.  However, he wouldn’t identify them at this time.  “I think at the appropriate time, they’ll determine how and when they want to become public.  Most people who have means, they don’t just do press conferences.  That’s not how they operate.  They’re behind the scenes, they put a deal together, they negotiate and then at the appropriate time, they come forward.  Now, we’ll have some conversations with them along the way to make sure that our threshold issues are being addressed, our core tenets are being addressed.”

Can’t see the audio player?  Listen here.

Audio courtesy of Megan Goldsby from KFBK.


Jonathan Santiago
Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.

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