It appears that a deal has been inked to return basketball to Seattle (where it rightly belongs), leaving even fewer reasons to visit Sacramento. The Maloof family, owners of the Sacramento Kings, struck a deal to offload the franchise for $525 million to a group of investors led by Seattle-based hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer.
This would be an apt time for the financially beleaguered Maloofs to toss the Kings north to Seattle. Not only are the Maloofs looking to bolster their cash flow due to poor investments and mismanagement; according to the ESPN 2012 Ultimate Team Rankings, in just 9 years, the Sacramento Kings, under ownership of the Maloofs, have dropped from #4 to #121 out of 122 sports franchises based on a number of categories including Ownership (ranking dead last), Stadium Experience and Fan Relations. Maybe a contributing factor to the fledgling Kings was the fact that the Kings play in an arena called “Sleep Train Arena”. Yes, it is corporate sponsorship but that name doesn’t exactly inspire excitement, enthusiasm or winning.
In terms of the arena - KeyArena, the Sonics’ cramped and obsolete former home that played a key role in the team’s departure five years ago is now being replaced. The group leading the Sonics hopeful return is also responsible for the new arena, which will be located near the existing Mariners and Seahawks stadiums.
The Sonics will be one of the rare franchises to arrive in Seattle with a built-in rival - the Portland Trail Blazers. The Trail Blazers accumulate more air miles per season than any team in the league, and now they'll be granted a short round trip to Seattle twice per year.
There is a lot of giddiness around this purchase – perhaps more than David Stern has seen in long time. Aside from the excitement churning around Seattle welcoming back their beloved Sonics; a new arena which will delight the Sonics and fans alike; the revitalization of an I-5 corridor rivalry and the rumor that “Zen Master” Phil Jackson will join the Sonics as General Manager.
Chris Hansen and team have pitched the revival tent and are preaching basketball complete with a new an arena and possibly Phil Jackson. This might be time for LA Lakers Dwight Howard to think about joining the revival and take his career north to Seattle.