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The throne belongs in Sacramento

Crown Downtown

Crown Downtown

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These are troubling times in the kingdom, troubling times indeed.

Adrian Wojnarowski, a NBA columnist for Yahoo! Sports, set the sports world ablaze when he tweeted, “The Maloofs are finalizing an agreement to sell the Sacramento Kings to the Hansen-Ballmer led Seattle group, sources tell Yahoo! Sports.”

He went on to tweet that the deal is like “first and goal at the 1,”  meaning that it was almost a sure thing. But in true warrior spirit, Sacramentans weren’t going to let Seattle seize the crown so easily.

Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson quickly went into action, talking with the NBA and local millionaires in an attempt to thwart the inevitable deal.

But just as soon as Johnson and several other local groups-including HereWeBuy.org where fans pledged over $20 million in tickets-could counter, Seattle landed another huge jab.

The Maloof family, majority owners of the Kings, sold the franchise to the group headed by billionaire Chris Hansen on Jan. 21, effectively moving the team to Seattle. The deal was reported to be worth $525 million for 65 percent of the franchise.Things became worse when Hansen said he would try to buy the remaining 35 percent from minority owners.

Not only did Hansen buy the Kings, but the hedge fund manager of Valiant Capital bought land surrounding Safeco Field, where the city’s baseball team plays, to act as a future spot for a new NBA arena.

At that point it was left up to the NBA Board of Governors who only had to approve the sale and relocation of the team.

But just as the fat lady started to warm up her voice, a glimmer of hope began to shine through the beaten-down capitol city. Johnson’s bulldog-like approach surfaced a billionaire of its own, one that would keep the team in Sacramento.

Ron Burkle, a Southern California grocery titan, met with the NBA about buying the embattled franchise. The meeting, which was brokered by Johnson, reportedly lasted two hours and presented matters beyond the Kings, including building a new arena at the current site of Downtown Plaza.

So there we have it, a city with a new hope. But as the old saying goes, “things happen in threes,” Kings fans had more reasons to smile about.

Larry Ellison, a software tycoon in Silicon Valley, tried to buy the Golden State Warriors, but was unsuccessful because of a late bid. Apparently he is back in the market for an NBA team.

Ellison, who is said to be worth $41 billion, is expected to meet with Johnson soon about the situation surrounding the Kings.

The third ray of hope comes from a legal technicality called right to first refusal. According to the law, the Maloofs had to negotiate with current minority owners before speaking with a third party.

Bob Cook, who owns 7 percent of the franchise, claimed that minority owners were denied their legal right to match the Seattle offer.

While all these scenarios seem to be “what-ifs,” it still gives valuable time for Johnson and others to work their magic like they did last year, before the Maloofs backed out of the deal that would keep the team in the capital city.

It’s been a long battle, but one thing’s for sure: Sacramentans have nothing to be ashamed of. They have repeatedly shown their character to the NBA and each other.

Like a true storybook, let’s hope this tale has a happy ending, this city sure needs it.

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The throne belongs in Sacramento