DEMAIN EVENT: Sneaky Maloofs shouldn't be allowed to get off scot-free
I'm not one to speak poorly of anyone. I'm really not.
So when I spend an entire column ripping the majority owners of the Sacramento Kings, I do so from the bottom of my heart.
To say the Maloof family's actions have been shameless and sneaky over the past two years would be an understatement.
The Anaheim situation
Two years ago, Grant Napear and Jerry Reynolds were among thousands of Sacramento Kings fans shedding tears as speculation continued to grow regarding the Maloofs' threat to strike a deal with Anaheim if Sacramento couldn't organize a plan to build an arena.
Well, Kevin Johnson and Sacramento called the Maloofs' bluff and put together a structured blueprint to build a downtown arena, even inspiring NBA commissioner David Stern.
So the Maloofs backed out. OOPS.
Their actions revealed this: They didn't think Sacramento could pull it off, and when the city did, not only did the owners look bad, Stern was furious.
The hangup, according to the Maloofs, was that as the primary tenant of the would-be new arena, they shouldn't pay the pre-development costs. The cost was $3.5 million. Keep in mind, the Maloofs owe the city of Sacramento more than $77 million. It was a drop in the bucket and it appeared suspicious.
On April 2, 2012, George Maloof spoke publicly for the first time since the collapse of the deal on KHTK's Grant Napear Show.
He maintained the Maloofs' loyalty to Sacramento.
He went as far as saying that the Maloofs are "100 percent committed" to Sacramento, and they were sticking to the initial deal.
George also said he was "optimistic" that the deal would get done, but stood on principle that they should not have to pay the $3.5 million.
So I ask, if this was so important to the owners and the ends outweigh the means, why not pull the trigger? Because they never had any intention of staying in Sacramento. George was lying.
The back-door Seattle deal
Seven months later, rumors of the Maloofs striking a deal with an investment group led by Chris Hansen to sell the Kings surfaced. Hansen's number one priority is moving the team to Seattle, where a new arena has been approved to be built.
Not only did this confirm suspicions, it was a complete slap in the face to Sacramento and the NBA.
Sacramento was never notified that the team was for sale, nor was the NBA.
Sacramento never had a chance to bid and neither did anyone else.
Two weeks ago, when the news went public and other investors grew interested in the opportunity to buy the Kings, the Maloofs burned their last bridge by saying they wouldn't sell to any investor who wanted to keep the Kings in Sacramento.
Hmmm ... why would this be?
Likely because they don't want to see another majority owner make the Kings a viable team in a small market, therefore damaging their legacy and reputation as owners — but as you can see, they did it to themselves.
Last week, the purchase agreement was reached with Hansen, and the last stamp of approval needs only the NBA Board of Governors on March 1.
The only asterisk that exists is an unprecedented opportunity Stern gave Mayor Kevin Johnson — Johnson is allowed to present his own case at the same meeting.
What can be done
While Johnson works diligently to round up investors who could match Hansen's offer to keep the team in Sacramento and a plan to build a downtown arena, fans are doing the same.
Herewebuy.org is a commitment made by the fans, a place to pre-order tickets to future Kings games if they were to stay in the city.
The other wrinkle in this saga is Ron Burkle's interest in buying the Kings. On Thursday, Burkle met with Stern for two hours. It was an optimistic sign for Sacramento fans as he has been on record saying he wants to keep the Kings in Sacramento.
The bottom line is that David Stern and the Board of Governors can make an unprecedented statement at the meeting.
Given the Maloofs' past, their decisions, lies and sneaky actions, Stern and Co. can vote down the agreement based on morals, rather than fortune.
Wouldn't that be nice for once?
Why reward the obvious bad guys? Why let them sell a team for nearly twice its worth? Why let them rob the bank and the fans of Sacramento?
Well, money. The Seattle market is probably deserving and would bring in more revenue to the NBA, and the owners know this.
But if the Maloofs backed out of a deal that would have pulled in more revenue based on principle two years ago, maybe it's time the owners applied the same logic, and base their decision on principle.
The best possible outcome is that they turn down the Maloofs' agreement and encourage the Maloofs to sell to Ron Burkle and Co. to keep the team in Sacramento.
The worst possible outcome is that Johnson's plan is not a viable option, the NBA OKs the purchase to Hansen and Co. and the sneaky, back-stabbing Maloofs get away scot-free.