Here they stay.
In an emotional saga that has dragged on for nearly three years, the Sacramento Kings finally appear to be staying put in California’s capital city.
The NBA’s relocation committee voted unanimously Monday to recommend that owners reject the application for the Kings to relocate to Seattle, the latest — and by far the strongest — in a long line of cities that almost landed the franchise. The committee made the decision over a conference call and forwarded the recommendation to the NBA Board of Governors.
The board, which consists of all 30 owners, will convene during the week of May 13 to vote on the matter. While the recommendation doesn’t guarantee the Kings will stay put, it’s difficult at this point to imagine how they don’t.
Moments after the league announced the committee’s recommendation, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson wrote on Twitter: “That’s what I’m talking about SACRAMENTO!!!!! WE DID IT!!!!!”
At a packed pep rally at a downtown restaurant, fans serenaded Johnson with chants of “Sac-ra-mento!” He called the recommendation a “big day for the city of Sacramento” but stopped short of declaring victory.
“We do not want to dance in the end zone. We do not want to celebrate prematurely,” Johnson said.
TIBCO software chairman Vivek Ranadive, the head of the Sacramento investor group Johnson assembled to mount a competing bid to keep the Kings, also expressed excitement.
“I’m speechless. Thanks to all of the amazing people who supported this great effort,” tweeted Ranadive, a minority owner of the Golden State Warriors who could become the first Indian-born majority owner of an NBA team. He would have to sell his share in the Warriors if his group’s bid for the Kings is successful.
“We did it, baby,” said California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. The Sacramento Democrat joined Johnson and Republican state Senator Ted Gaines at the rally in a show of bipartisan support.
Barbara “Sign Lady” Rust, as she has become known by Kings fans, waived a sign as Johnson spoke that read: “LOVE found a Way, now Here We stay.”
“You should have seen me a few hours ago,” she said. “I totally lost it. First I jumped like a crazy woman for a minute. Then I cried.”
Who will own the Kings next season is still unclear.
The Maloof family reached an agreement in January to sell a 65 percent controlling interest in the team to a group led by investor Chris Hansen at a total franchise valuation of $525 million, topping the NBA-record $450 million that Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the Warriors for in 2010.
Then Hansen increased his offer to $550 million, which implies buying the 65 percent stake for about $357 million.
Hansen hoped to move the team to Seattle and rename it the SuperSonics, who moved to Oklahoma City and renamed the Thunder in 2008. Instead, those plans have suddenly crumbled.