FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 16, 2013 –
As I write this, the less-than-beloved Maloof family have apparently sold the Sacramento Kings to a group of wealthy Seattle, Washington investors headed by some hedge fund guy named Chris Hansen. The selling price appears to be about $525 million, which should go a long way in helping the Maloofs pay off about $200 million in debts they have racked up over the years while owning the Kings, not to mention the $6 or $7 million they say they are going to lose on this year’s operation of the team. Other possible buyers are also trying to match or top that offer, but one way or another, it looks like the Kings will finally be leaving Sacramento in the not too distant future.
Looking back on the history of the Kings, it seems like they were always having serious money problems and demanding that the taxpayers of the City of Sacramento foot most of the bill. I remember Jim Thomas (the guy who owned the Kings before he sold them to the Maloof brothers) at one point wanting a $60 million loan from the city and their help in passing a $145 million bond measure so he could build himself a new arena, and if the city didn’t fork over, he was going to move the team. And the Maloofs, of course, have been threatening to move the Kings out of Sacramento and to greener (as in dollars) pastures for ages.
To tell you the truth, as exciting as the Kings once were back in the days of Vlade Divac, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, and “White Chocolate” himself, Jason Williams, I’m not really all that sad to see them go. The Maloofs (or any new owners willing to keep the Kings in town) would only continue to demand more millions from the already cash-strapped City of Sacramento to make possible that seemingly universal demand of all professional basketball teams – a shiny new arena with all the bells and whistles paid for by someone other than themselves.
There was a time when I considered myself to be a pretty loyal Sacramento Kings fan, even though decent seats cost $50 or more and that was just the tip of the iceberg. It also cost a small fortune for parking, bad food at the concession stands, and a few souvenirs for the kids. In fact, by the time my family and I had finished watching a Kings’ game and were stuck in all that traffic trying to get back to West Sacramento, I had easily spent over $250, which is not exactly a cheap family night out on the town.
Anyway, although I somehow managed to live through the days of Billy Owens and Olden Polynice and God only knows how many other not-ready-for-prime-time Kings players, the straw that actually broke my back had to do with a little argument I had with my wife at the last Kings game I ever attended, and it went a little something like this:
“Are you hungry?” asked my wife, noting that it was close to 7 pm and neither one of us had eaten very much for dinner before we left for the game.
“Not really,” I said, “but I am a little thirsty. And since we are in these fancy seats tonight (a friend had generously let us use his season tickets) instead of up in the nose bleed section like usual, I think I’ll ask that waitress to get us something to drink the next time she strolls by.”
“Good idea,” said my wife, digging through her purse and handing me $5. “Get me a bottle of water, okay?”
“Are you kidding?” I asked. “A bottle of water can’t possibly cost $5.”
“I bet it does.” And sure enough (including a little tip for the waitress), it did.
So, a little after halftime, long after my wife and I had finished our $5 bottles of water, we found ourselves thirsty again.
“I’ll go and get us Cokes or something,” I said, “although God only knows how much that will cost.”
“But I just want water,” insisted my wife.
“No way am I paying another $10 for two small bottles of water!”
“Would you stop being so cheap, Daryl. You didn’t even have to pay for the seats tonight.”
“I don’t care, it’s the principle of the thing. Here, give me your empty water bottle and I’ll go fill it up at a water fountain.”
“There are no water fountains in here, Daryl. They want you to buy beer and cokes and bottled water when you get thirsty. They wouldn’t make any money if everyone was hanging out at drinking fountains.”
“What?” demanded my wife, her face suddenly full of horror.
“Now I know for sure they’ve got bathrooms with sinks to wash your hands in this place, even if they don’t have water fountains. I’ll even let the faucet run for a good long time so the water is nice and cold.”
“Daryl, there is no way in the world I’m going to drink Arco Arena men’s restroom water!”
“But why not? I’m going to be getting it out of a sink, not a toilet.”
With that, my wife was up and out of her seat and on her way to purchase her own ridiculously over-priced container of non-bathroom water.
“Okay, okay,” I shouted after her, “then how about this? You can fill up the empty bottles with water from a sink in the women’s bathroom?”
Copyright News-Ledger 2013