There is a strange mood in Sacramento right now.
It is one part frustration, one part defianance, one part melancholy and one part exhausted.
This is what the Kings' owners, the Maloof family, and the reports of another relocation have done to one of the best fan bases in basketball. Wednesday afternoon, it appeared as if the team was as good as gone when Yahoo! Sports reported the Maloofs were close to a deal to sell the Kings to a group from Seattle led by venture capitalist Chris Hansen.
At that point, knowing Hansen's group already had a plan in place to build a new arena in Seattle and knowing many people in NBA circles including NBA Commissioner David Stern would like to see a team back in Seattle, many Kings fans sighed, muttered an expletive under their breath and thought their team was gone.
Then Sacraemento Mayor Kevin Johnson held a press conference to say he was not giving up on keeping the Kings in California's capital.
Sadness turned to defiance. Kings fans have been down this road before, when their mayor led a charge against a Kings move to Anaheim. Today the defiance remains, but there is also fatigue and frustration because of the Maloofs. Simply put, they want to have their cake and eat it too.
This morning, Brian May of News10 tweeted the following:
George Maloof tells News10 a deal to sell the Kings to Seattle group is not close.
— Bryan May (@BMayNews10) January 10, 2013
Here we go again. You can never tell with the Maloofs. And many people in the Sacramento area are tired of being yanked around by the brothers, George especially.
There were reports that the Maloofs might want more money out of the deal. Then, Seattle Times reporter Bob Condotta reported that the Maloofs are open to selling the team as long they can keep some control over how the team is run.
You can understand why this would make Hansen's group nervous (and Seattle fans who want a competenly run team).
The source said the sale of the team for the Maloofs goes beyond dollars and cents and stressed how important being involved in the NBA has been to the family.
I do not know how you can sell your majority ownership to someone else and still expect imput in how the team is run. The Maloofs, Joe and Gavin especially, love being in the spotlight, love being loved by fans, etc. Whether they know it or not, the way they have continued to show up courtside at games over the last two years has come off as clueless to their Q-score among their own fan base.
This is not surprising, but at some point they are either going to have to decide to sell and give up being an owner or reverse course and agree to Sacramento's arena deal they briefly agreed to last year and continue being owners of an NBA franchise. But both things cannot happen.
Overall Kings fans want their team to stay, but I get the sense they also want some closure on the situation. They are not angry at Seattle fans for wanting a team, just at the owners who have been jerking them around for the last several years. Hopefully there is closure soon, but given the guys holding the cards (for now) I would not expect a quick or painless resolution.
Photo: USA Today