An Open Letter to NBA Commissioner David Stern from Sacramento

Feb 13, 2013 8 Comments

Dear Commissioner Stern:

Let me start by congratulating you on your nearly 30 years of tireless service, commitment and leadership to the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the game that so many of us love. When February 1, 2014 rolls around and you step aside, walk away proud knowing that you are the greatest sports commissioner in history.

Until then, the City of Sacramento and its people need your help yet again. With the news that the Maloof family have agreed to sell their majority ownership (65 percent) in the Sacramento Kings to an investment group consisting of Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer (who plan to relocate our beloved franchise to Seattle) we are counting on you to save our Kings from a tragic end to what has been a wonderful, 30-year partnership.

And we are confident that you can save the day.

See, you love Sacramento almost as much as we do. History tells us this – from publicly stating years ago that Sacramento was a “model small-market franchise for the NBA” to personally helping broker a private/public partnership deal to build a new arena for Sacramento and the Kings last year before the Maloof family walked away.

David Stern

Photo By: Eric Richardson

So no matter how many times Sacramentans hear that the pending sale is all but done, or the decision ultimately will come down to where the NBA Board of Governors wants the team, I believe you Mr. Commissioner hold the cards. Much of the success of the NBA over your tenure has less to do with the owners pulling the strings, but more to do with them trusting your vision to grow and nurture the game and league.

Plus, relocation stinks. Especially when the city whose team is threatened to leave has done nothing but what is expected and has been asked of it to be an NBA city. Sell out 19 of 28 years? Yeah, Sacramento did that. Commit $260 million in public funds to build a new $390 million arena? Yep, we did that too. Launch one of the most powerful and effective fan grassroots campaigns (Here We Stay) in sports history to help keep our team? Check.

When our savior (and your friend) Mayor Kevin Johnson soon delivers on a competing investment group to buy the Kings and build a new arena to ensure the Kings remain in Sacramento, what will you advise your Board of Governors to do? After so many years of supporting our team and your league, will Sacramento get a fair shake? Will the city and fans be rewarded for weathering an ownership group that turned its back on them?

Certainly, we appreciate the encouraging words from you that Sacramento will get a chance to match, but ultimately, we understand that at the end of the day it just may not be enough. While losing the Kings would be a dark day for Sacramento, the loss of the team won’t be because a lack of effort on our part. We didn’t lay down after years of relocation threats and rumors that had the team heading everywhere but Sacramento. It only made us more unified and steadfast in our resolve. I guess that’s what embodies a Sacramentan.

In the end, Sacramento shouldn’t lose it’s only professional sports team, just as Seattle should have never lost the Sonics. There is a way to appease both markets by keeping the Kings where they belong in Sacramento and granting Seattle an expansion team or a franchise that possesses a lackluster fanbase.

I know I am oversimplifying this, but there is a way to make this work for everyone.

I trust you will think of all of this when guiding your Board on this unprecedented decision. I hope you remember the feeling you had when the Sonics were ripped out of Seattle calling it “one of my biggest regrets as Commissioner.” As I said earlier, relocation stinks. It’s bad for the league, its brand, and would set a bad precedent.

This is likely your last major deal to influence and make a difference. Make it count Commissioner.

If you do, we’ll have a front row seat waiting for you next to Mayor Johnson when Sacramento opens its new Entertainment & Sports Arena in 2016.

Thank you.



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8 Responses to “An Open Letter to NBA Commissioner David Stern from Sacramento”

  1. ChgoJohn says:

    Well said & good luck! I hope your Mayor Johnson can put together a good enough package to turn Stern’s head and keep the Kings where they are and belong.

    • William Hodges says:

      Thanks ChgoJohn! It’s definitely an uphill battle for KJ and our city, but obviously there is a chance.

  2. Tim Solis says:

    Stern still owes the city of Sacramento for Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals back in 2002…

  3. Damon, Seattle says:

    Stern also owes us in Seattle a franchise that he assisted in pulling right out from under our fan base. I do sympathize for Sactown but to say you have stayed steadfast in your determination to keep the team is a bit of an exaggeration. It was not until the deal between the Maloofs and the Hansen group had been announced in agreement that you came to life. I follow your determined mayors press conferences and it seems there are still not major financial contributors nor an official site for your arena plan. Apparently the previous site that was determined in the previous plan is no longer adequate. Ask Chris Hansen how long it takes to put together a $500 million dollar arena deal and develop a buying group with the clout to put together a $500 million dollar plus offer together to buy a team. I can guarantee it is a hell of a lot longer than 8 weeks. Honestly I would love to see the commissioner come forward and say he is willing grant Seattle an expansion team and leave Sacramento’s organization to scrape together a deal to get the Magoofs out of there. Based on Sterns steadfast stance against expansion, in fact he has made more stance towards contracting the league, I just don’t see that being in the cards.

    • William Hodges says:

      Thanks for reading and your comments Damon. I think it’s important to know that Sacramento has been in a fight to keep it’s team for 2 + years when the Maloofs were threating to move the team to Anaheim. It didn’t just arise once the Hansen/Ballmer group came to an agreement with the Maloofs. And Never Say Die (comment below) is correct….the Maloofs have been saying for years that the team is not for sale, and then one day it leaks that they are deep discussion to sell the team.

      Also know that Mayor Johnson has been working behind the scenes much longer than a few weeks on an investment group to buy the Kings, build an arena and keep this team in Sacramento. It’s just now that he is mobilizing all the pieces to make it happen.

      Will it be enough? I don’t know. I fully admit that Seattle is still in the driver seat to land the Kings, but that’s not to say that Sacramento doesn’t have a chance. Time will tell.

  4. never say die says:

    “It was not until the deal between the Maloofs and the Hansen group had been announced in agreement that you came to life”

    That’s because up until that point the MaGoofs steadfastly and repeatedly stated that the team was NOT FOR SALE.

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