Sacramento mayor says Kings' relocation effort like 'slow death'
Kevin Johnson, the former NBA guard who's now Sacramento's mayor, said on his blog that the Sacramento Kings' overtures to moving to Anaheim's Honda Center is "like a slow death," but encouraged citizens to rally for "a new beginning."
Johnson wrote these are likely to be the team's "final weeks" in Sacramento after 26 seasons. The Kings play their season finale at home April 13.
His comments were made in the hours after Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait announced at Tuesday's City Council meeting that Anaheim was moving toward landing a professional basketball franchise and that the city would consider assisting Honda Center in its endeavor to build or improve facilities, notably a practice venue and an NBA-caliber locker room.
An attorney connected to the Kings has already explored trademarks for a possibly relocated team, including the "Anaheim Royals," which connects the Kings' franchise to its prior homes in Rochester and Cincinnati, when the team's nickname was the "Royals."
Johnson noted in comments tinged in frustration: "We saw the Kings playing games [this season] in “Royals” uniforms –- supposedly to celebrate their history when the club was based in Rochester, N.Y., and Cincinnati from 1948 to 1972."
"Now we have the Anaheim City Council preparing to take action on improvements to the city’s arena, where the as-yet-unofficial Anaheim Royals will play.
"Meantime, Sacramento fans take the high road.
"Thanks to the fans and groups like 'Here We Stay,' I want to keep fighting to keep the Kings. But another part of me wants this painful drama to end."
Anaheim's City Council will meet again Tuesday to discuss the Honda Center's needs, and experts familiar with the negotiation have said the city's enthusiasm to assist could propel the Kings to strike a lease agreement with Honda Center.
Kings' owners Joe and Gavin Maloof have until April 18 to apply to the NBA's Board of Governors for relocation, and the Board of Governors meet April 14-15, when the subject is expected to be up for discussion.
On his blog, Johnson wrote, "The slow death is almost over. It’s painful."
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: Francisco Garcia of the Sacramento Kings. Credit: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images