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Transcript: Mayor Kevin Johnson, Vivek Ranadive and Mark Friedman Press Conference



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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Transcript provided by the NBA
 
MAYOR KEVIN JOHNSON
VIVEK RANADIVÉ
MARK FRIEDMAN
 
 
MAYOR JOHNSON:  Let me just say we are really excited to be from Sacramento today.  We know clearly that the team is staying in Sacramento, and that is good news for our community.  I just want to take a moment to thank our fans, our community; you kept us in this game day in and day out, so one big thank you to you folks in Sacramento.  When we were in that room with the other NBA owners, they were listening to our voice because you kept us in this game for this long.  So thank you, Sacramento. 
  Here's what we know.  That we had a chance to present today.  I talked about Sacramento as a market.  Vivek did a great job representing the ownership group.  Mark Friedman spoke on behalf of Sacramento and building a new arena downtown.  We felt very good about our presentation, and afterwards, we knew that we'd go upstairs and have to wait for a few minutes to hear ultimately what happened. 
  Not too long ago we heard that the relocation committee voted to keep the team in Sacramento, and that means it won't be going to Seattle and that's good news for us in Sacramento.  That's what this fight has been about for quite some time, so we do know that. 
  So we also know that Vivek and the Maloof team will be negotiating around the clock for the next two days, three days to try to get this resolved sooner than later.  I got a chance to see George Maloof, Gavin and Joe afterwards.  We shook hands.  They said congratulations. 
 
And I just want to take a moment to thank them and their family.  They're a proud family.  They've been good for Sacramento, and at the end of the day, had they not created an environment where they could have accepted the back up offer, we'd be dead in the water.  So we owe them a debt of gratitude for the commitment they've had in our city over a decade and certainly allowing us to have a back up offer. 
  In terms of our ownership group, I want to thank Vivek and the ownership group, and I'll say this, Mark, and we have members of the ownership group here in the audience who flew from Sacramento to be here.  We matched their offer, and that was important.  When that offer was 525, we stepped up and we matched it.  When we were told we needed to do a new building, our ownership group said, look, we're going to personally guarantee it.  When we were told as an ownership group they had to put money in escrow, they put 50% in escrow.  Went above and beyond.  Then we were told you need to put a hundred percent in escrow, and our group did that each step along the way.  We were told you need to cap revenue share, and we did that.  This is an ownership group that's played to win and kept us in the game, and put us in a situation where ultimately over the next couple days, if things go right, we can close this out and move to a new chapter in Sacramento. 
  In terms of building a brand new building, it's been very clear and we've said this time and time again, building a building downtown is bigger than basketball.  It's transformative.  You're going to see a situation where Sacramento will be changed forever for the good because of what's transpired in the last couple days. 
  So, again, I want to summarize by saying the NBA, and the Commissioner and all the owners had a very difficult decision.  It was gut wrenching, we know that.  It was painful, it was difficult, they've been working around the clock across the boards, so I want to thank the NBA and certainly the relocation committee and the finance committee. 
  I also want to take a moment to thank the Maloofs and their family.  No matter how this turns out, they've been very supportive of us in particular in the last couple of weeks.  And you've heard George make the comments that the lawyers have been negotiating on the back up offer to try to get this resolved, and that is the goal. 
  Lastly, my hat goes off to Seattle.  This is probably something that's really hard for me because I know what they feel like.  I went to Seattle.  I played against those fans in that community.  It's a great sports town, it's a great basketball community.  And for them to come up a little short, especially with what happened in 2008 to have lost their team, that's devastating.  That's why we fought so hard.  We didn't want to lose our team.  We know what that feels like, and it meant a lot for us. 
  We wish Seattle the best.  Great sports town, great ownership group, and Chris Hansen and Ballmer, and those folks, I hope they get a team at some point, I think they will.  And this is just me, but I'm rooting for Seattle.  If there is any way we can be helpful, you know, we will.  They were awesome.  Our hat goes off to them and their fans. 
  It's been a roller coaster for both cities, but we've never looked at this as a competition between Seattle and Sacramento.  We thought this was about what we needed to do to keep our team in Sacramento, and that's to me how we approached this.  It wasn't about us comparing ourselves to Seattle.  They have some great things that we don't have in Sacramento.  But I would put the support that our community has given to our team, I would compare our city so any city.  We'd take a back seat to no city when it comes to the way we support our team. 
  So, again, proud moment.  We're all excited and looking forward to coming back to Sacramento, And I want to turn it over to Vivek who has done a great job. 
  VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  I told the mayor, that the only thing they haven't asked me to do is to dunk, but if they, do I know who has one of the top 10 dunks of all time.
  MAYOR JOHNSON:  Thanks, Vivek.
  VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  No, it's a very exciting day for all of us and for Sacramento, and I too would like to start by thanking a bunch of people.  
 
I'd like to thank the NBA, the Commissioner, the other owners.  For me, it's truly humbling to see the amount of time and effort that went into all of this, and just to watch the whole process. 
  The Commissioner has had many sleepless nights and hours agonizing over this.  So I want to thank the NBA.  I also wanted to thank the City of Sacramento and the best mayor in America.  Sorry Mayor Lee, you're only the second best now.  But truly you have an amazing mayor, you have an amazing city none of this would be possible without the best mayor in America. 
  I'd also like to recognize and thank Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer.  I've known Chris for many years.  He's an amazing guy.  I had a chance to talk to Chris Hansen today, and he's a great guy.  He's been very successful, and his passion for Seattle and basketball, it's all good.  He's brought attention to the city of Seattle and basketball, and they'll always be in the conversation, so I'd like to thank them as well. 
  I'd also like to thank the Maloofs.  They have been with this team for some time.  And again, I had a chance to chat with them briefly, and I fully expect, indeed, we'll be able to work with them. 
  And last but not least, the fans of Sacramento.  You guys are simply amazing.  There is nothing I can say that can express how amazing you guys are.  So thank you to all of you and look forward to working with you in the future. 
  MARK FRIEDMAN:  This is a big day for Sacramento.  I think several weeks ago it would be very, very difficult to imagine being here today.  But the kind of effort that we put together, the way in which the city and the community pulled together and put forth the proposal that we did is nothing short of remarkable. 
  When I was a kid, my mom used to read me the book The Little Engine That Could, and that's kind of how I feel about Sacramento right now.  All through this process we've said I think we can, I think we can, I think we can, and today we did.  We couldn't have done that without the mayor and his extraordinary leadership, the way he rallied all of us has been absolutely remarkable. 
  Vivek, you are a wonderful partner, a terrific leader.  Thank you for including all of us in this group. 
  You know, we are on the cusp of doing something that is truly transformational in our community.  The construction of the new downtown arena will absolutely transform our downtown.  It will give us the kind of entertainment facilities that all of us have wanted for many years, and I have to thank the NBA for giving us that opportunity.  Because, as the mayor said, this is more than basketball, but it wouldn't be possible without basketball.  So thank you to the Commissioner and to the Board of Governors for giving us this opportunity.
 
  Q.  Do you believe you can have everything done in 24 to 48 hours?  Is that reasonable? 
  VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  Our lawyers have been talking for some time, and we believe we can get this done very quickly.
 
  Q.  Have you begun your dialog with the Maloofs?
  VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  Well, our lawyers and the Maloofs lawyers have actually been talking over the last few weeks, and they continue to do that.  So there is a lot of hard work over the next couple of days, but I fully expect we'll get there.
  MAYOR JOHNSON:  I want to say one thing.  The important thing for us, there was all this talk about the Maloofs would never sign a deal with Sacramento.  We've never believed that and never heard that; that was not the case.  Lawyers on his side and the Maloofs side were having discussions for two, three or four weeks.  There was always a back up offer in place that people were negotiating. 
  I don't know where that notion came from that the Maloofs would never sign or sell to a Sacramento group.  I've never heard that.  We got a chance to talk to them today.  I've talked to George Maloof several times over the last couple of weeks.  We're wishing each other well. 
  You want a win win.  You don't ever want to do anything that's disparaging to Seattle.  If their offer got accepted, God bless Seattle.  But we were fighting to keep what was ours.  And I think the Maloof family were very intricate in us getting where we are today.
 
  Q.  And where were you when you found out the news and what was the mood, and were you K.J.'ing? 
  MAYOR JOHNSON:  Yeah, I did that.  We were all together on the second floor.  It was kind of our holding room, and we were all together we were watching the Stern press conference.  He confirmed.  You've heard a lot of people say it, but we weren't going to say anything or celebrate or react until the Commissioner ultimately made a statement. 
  He said that the relocation committee denied the relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle.  We were excited about that and we listened very closely to everything that was said.  It was very clear that our groups are going to do everything we can to solidify a sale of a team to the Vivek Ownership Group which we're excited about, that is what the next few days are about.  And we listened carefully to what happened in Seattle.  The door was not closed for Seattle for down the road and in the future, and that's something that meant a lot for us as well.
 
  Q.  I'm thinking back to a year ago in New York, and I think your exact words were, "The thing we know about the Maloofs is they're capable of changing their minds," and George said a few moments ago they don't feel like they're under any pressure to sell.  Is there a little part of you in the back of your mind that says this could all fall apart and hang on to the team and refuse to sell? 
  MAYOR JOHNSON:  I don't think so.  We all know this is an emotional situation for their family.  God, they've given their heart and soul Sacramento and basketball.  They were once owners in Houston, got an opportunity to get a team again in Sacramento.  Some of the best historic days have been under the Maloofs' leadership.  We realize that. 
  So for them, I'm sure there is mixed emotions.  One, they're going to get a hefty price to sell their team, which is, I'm sure good in one respect.  The other respect is they're not going to be owners of the team so I think it's going to be hard for them.  So I think there are mixed emotions, and what we do know today is the body that ultimately decides a relocation of a franchise voted to keep the team in Sacramento.  That is fact. 
  I think it's very clear, and if you listen to George's comments, he said that his lawyers and Vivek's lawyers are having conversations.  He's going to talk to Chris Hansen.  But that Chris Hansen deal is not on the table anymore, and I think that's very clear.  So these are facts that are before us, and I think there will be an opportunity for us all to shake hands at some point once this is resolved and be able to move forward in a way that they'll ultimately feel good.  The city of Sacramento will feel good, and it's my hope that Seattle feels a sense of confidence that down the road they'll have an opportunity to have an NBA team again.
 
  Q.  Point of clarification, when was the 100% purchase price put in escrow?  I know you talked about it at the airport yesterday, but we were unclear when that finally happened?
  MAYOR JOHNSON:  I'm going to let the money man.
  VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  We were told to put it in escrow yesterday, and so we put it in escrow yesterday.
  MAYOR JOHNSON:  Let me say one thing.  The commitment on our ownership group was we're going to match the offer and tell us what we need to do to show we're serious about our commitment and we want to keep the team in Sacramento.  And at first it was 50%, so our ownership group put in 50%.  Then we decided collectively as owners and talking to the NBA, and the Maloof owners and everybody said, look, before the NBA Board of Governors full meeting, we'll put the hundred percent in escrow so that way you know our good faith effort and we're ready to close this deal upon an agreement being signed by both sides.  That is the ultimate commitment that our ownership group has made, and I don't want that to go unnoticed.
 
  Q.  I know you've been confident all along, but at what point in time did you really think to yourself we've got this? 
  MAYOR JOHNSON:  I mean, when you play sports, we'll talk the playoffs.  I don't know if this would be a good analogy or not.  But the first round of the playoffs and you still have to win four games to win that first round.  So there are four wins that you have to have to get out of the first round.  Then you need to get four wins to get into the second round and get beyond that and so forth. 
  So, honestly, if you go back two years ago when the team didn't go to Anaheim, when the Maloofs decided not to sell to Anaheim or relocate to Anaheim or file, that was a big win for our community.  I felt like last year, a year ago when we had the arena deal, because that was the next thing we needed to do a financing plan, that was a big deal for our community.  That deal fell apart. 
  Once we heard the team was going to be for sale and we knew what the price was, on January 9th, I remember like it was yesterday, I knew at that point when they were willing to accept a back up offer, and I don't want that to go unnoticed    when they were willing to accept a back up offer, that gave us as a chance as Sacramento to make good on that.  And I instantly started calling folks and it did not take long for us to get a group who said from Sacramento and up and down the state of California, we have an ownership group from San Diego, L.A., Silicon Valley, the Bay Area, the East Bay, and Sacramento, the whole state is represented in this commitment.  I knew at that point we could match the offer.  So I felt good about that. 
  Then as time went on and the next victory was as the relocation committee voted as a subcommittee to say 7 0 a unanimous vote that we think the team should stay in Sacramento.  So we're advancing through the playoffs from one round to the next. 
  When it became official today for the full board, I think we went to the next round of the playoffs, and now we're just waiting to see ultimately what happens between the lawyers, which I think can get resolved.  And hopefully in a 48 hour period or very soon, and ultimately it would have to go to a conference call.  I think the Commissioner said he would convene owners of the board on a conference call and accordingly, and I think that will hopefully be the final piece of this saga that's been going on for quite a long time.
 
  Q.  The 22 8 vote, when you were in there during the meeting addressing the Board of Governors today, eight people voted for Seattle.  What were the major concerns that some of the people had about keeping the team in Sacramento would be the first question?  The second question would be is the ownership group as is today, there are reports that the ownership group has been changing and you've been looking to add additional minority owners; is it set going forward here? 
  MAYOR JOHNSON:  I'll answer the first question, you do the second.  I'm the mayor.  You're not the owner of the team yet.  We've been having fun the whole time.  He's put me in my place many times. 
  So I think in terms of your first question, the questions that came to us, I think it's important to understand this vetting process has been going on for like three months, four months, a long period of time.  The NBA has issued reports that the owners have read and what we went in there today, we said, look, we don't want to inundate you with data and talking points.  We want to be crisp.  We want to be clear.  Our point is we feel we have a strong market.  The city is going to make a significant investment for a new arena, and ultimately we have an ownership group that has the wherewithal to meet every NBA standard to deliver on a successful team. 
  All of our owners are builders in their own right.  So the question I got is can you really deliver the financing plan?  Are there any big impediments?  I said our city has committed.  We have 15 votes.  Our city council, I want to thank our city manager, our assistant city manager.  I want to thank Dan Barrett, all of these folks who have contributed, our council members, that is to show a political strength and leadership, Darrell Steinberg and Ted Gaines.  We have Republicans and democrats, business and labor, all collectively together.  Yes, we're going to deliver.  Why?  Because it's bigger than basketball. 
  We get a chance to transform our downtown community, something we've been trying to do.  We're talking about economic development and job creation.  So that was the question for me. 
  The question Vivek got is can you be successful?  Can Sacramento as a market be successful?  And that's why we're betting on Sacramento.  We believe in Sacramento.  We know how loud it used to be.  We know about the fans.  We know about the sellouts.  We saw the corporate community step up in a short period of time.  We know that we can increase our TV deal and get a naming rights.  So our ownership group is also betting on the market, so we have questions there. 
  Then Mark's question is can you build it?  Is there site control?  Can you get it done by 2016?  So those questions are ones that we've answered countless times.  The thing is we've had great answers that they felt very good about at the end of the day. 
  VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  I just wanted to add that I felt the questions were very fair, and the whole process was very fair, so I have no complaints about the way it all worked out. 
  We have this concept in Silicon Valley we call it smart money.  So you have money from many places, but I've always wanted to surround myself with people that are way smarter than me.  So we have actually taken some new money.  We've reduced existing people so we could make room for new money.  So I'm very proud to have Raj, the largest swimwear manufacturer in the country and a native of India join us as well.  Raj was in the meeting with us today. 
  So what we were able to do is we took some people down in their commitment and we made room for Raj.  You've probably heard me talk before about how I want to make this a global brand, and I believe the Asian economies are a big market.  And in order to achieve my vision, we call NBA 3.0, we need to go global.  And Raj is going to drive much of our international aspirations.
  MAYOR JOHNSON:  I wanted to say two things in relation.  I think Commissioner Stern talked about we need to have a certain amount in escrow.  This group did it, but they exceeded the amount that needed to be in escrow, so this is us over-delivering. 
  Secondly, they're getting calls every day for the last month or two of people who want to participate.  It's a big deal to own an NBA franchise.  There are only 30 of them.  There are not very many of them.  So when people saw there might be an opportunity for them to play a role when they saw the leadership we have here, there is a line of people literally who are saying we want to participate.  So it's a good problem to have.  You're actually oversubscribed, which is a great problem, And I think that's what gave the rest of the owners a sense of confidence that we were not undercapitalized. 
  This group had dollars necessary with a waiting list of people who want to participate. 
  VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  Yeah, so we far exceeded what we said we would do.  Even when we were on our way here, I got a call from a couple of people asking to be part of this.  So there is no shortage of demand.  We want really smart people, and we've put together a team of just amazing people.
  MAYOR JOHNSON:  Anybody from Seattle?  I see some Seattle folks here.  Okay.  All right.
 
  Q.  Given all the negotiations leading up to this point in time, my question is how much leeway in negotiations would there be in the next two to three days with the Maloofs?  That being said, also, would there be a scenario in which they could become minority partners to some degree? 
  VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  I don't want to discuss the deal in front of the press, but I feel pretty confident we can get something done in the next few days.  So I think we'll    as far as the second question, I haven't really considered that.
  MAYOR JOHNSON:  I want to thank Phil, Kevin, and Lisa, part of our ownership group as well, and a good day for Sacramento.  We'll keep plugging away, and we're looking forward to coming home.
 
 
 
MAYOR JOHNSON:  Let me just say we are really excited to be from Sacramento today.  We know clearly that the team is staying in Sacramento, and that is good news for our community.  I just want to take a moment to thank our fans, our community; you kept us in this game day in and day out, so one big thank you to you folks in Sacramento.  When we were in that room with the other NBA owners, they were listening to our voice because you kept us in this game for this long.  So thank you, Sacramento. 
 
Here's what we know.  That we had a chance to present today.  I talked about Sacramento as a market.  Vivek did a great job representing the ownership group.  Mark Friedman spoke on behalf of Sacramento and building a new arena downtown.  We felt very good about our presentation, and afterwards, we knew that we'd go upstairs and have to wait for a few minutes to hear ultimately what happened. 
 
Not too long ago we heard that the relocation committee voted to keep the team in Sacramento, and that means it won't be going to Seattle and that's good news for us in Sacramento.  That's what this fight has been about for quite some time, so we do know that. 
 
So we also know that Vivek and the Maloof team will be negotiating around the clock for the next two days, three days to try to get this resolved sooner than later.  I got a chance to see George Maloof, Gavin and Joe afterwards.  We shook hands.  They said congratulations. 
 
And I just want to take a moment to thank them and their family.  They're a proud family.  They've been good for Sacramento, and at the end of the day, had they not created an environment where they could have accepted the back up offer, we'd be dead in the water.  So we owe them a debt of gratitude for the commitment they've had in our city over a decade and certainly allowing us to have a back up offer. 
 
In terms of our ownership group, I want to thank Vivek and the ownership group, and I'll say this, Mark, and we have members of the ownership group here in the audience who flew from Sacramento to be here.  We matched their offer, and that was important.  When that offer was 525, we stepped up and we matched it.  When we were told we needed to do a new building, our ownership group said, look, we're going to personally guarantee it.  When we were told as an ownership group they had to put money in escrow, they put 50% in escrow.  Went above and beyond.  Then we were told you need to put a hundred percent in escrow, and our group did that each step along the way.  We were told you need to cap revenue share, and we did that.  This is an ownership group that's played to win and kept us in the game, and put us in a situation where ultimately over the next couple days, if things go right, we can close this out and move to a new chapter in Sacramento. 
 
In terms of building a brand new building, it's been very clear and we've said this time and time again, building a building downtown is bigger than basketball.  It's transformative.  You're going to see a situation where Sacramento will be changed forever for the good because of what's transpired in the last couple days.
 
So, again, I want to summarize by saying the NBA, and the Commissioner and all the owners had a very difficult decision.  It was gut wrenching, we know that.  It was painful, it was difficult, they've been working around the clock across the boards, so I want to thank the NBA and certainly the relocation committee and the finance committee. 
 
I also want to take a moment to thank the Maloofs and their family.  No matter how this turns out, they've been very supportive of us in particular in the last couple of weeks.  And you've heard George make the comments that the lawyers have been negotiating on the back up offer to try to get this resolved, and that is the goal. 
Lastly, my hat goes off to Seattle.  This is probably something that's really hard for me because I know what they feel like.  I went to Seattle.  I played against those fans in that community.  It's a great sports town, it's a great basketball community.  And for them to come up a little short, especially with what happened in 2008 to have lost their team, that's devastating.  That's why we fought so hard.  We didn't want to lose our team.  We know what that feels like, and it meant a lot for us. 
 
We wish Seattle the best.  Great sports town, great ownership group, and Chris Hansen and Ballmer, and those folks, I hope they get a team at some point, I think they will.  And this is just me, but I'm rooting for Seattle.  If there is any way we can be helpful, you know, we will.  They were awesome.  Our hat goes off to them and their fans. 
 
It's been a roller coaster for both cities, but we've never looked at this as a competition between Seattle and Sacramento.  We thought this was about what we needed to do to keep our team in Sacramento, and that's to me how we approached this.  It wasn't about us comparing ourselves to Seattle.  They have some great things that we don't have in Sacramento.  But I would put the support that our community has given to our team, I would compare our city so any city.
 
We'd take a back seat to no city when it comes to the way we support our team. 
 
So, again, proud moment.  We're all excited and looking forward to coming back to Sacramento, And I want to turn it over to Vivek who has done a great job. 

VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  I told the mayor, that the only thing they haven't asked me to do is to dunk, but if they, do I know who has one of the top 10 dunks of all time.
 
MAYOR JOHNSON:  Thanks, Vivek.
 
VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  No, it's a very exciting day for all of us and for Sacramento, and I too would like to start by thanking a bunch of people.  I'd like to thank the NBA, the Commissioner, the other owners.  For me, it's truly humbling to see the amount of time and effort that went into all of this, and just to watch the whole process. 
 
The Commissioner has had many sleepless nights and hours agonizing over this.  So I want to thank the NBA.  I also wanted to thank the City of Sacramento and the best mayor in America.  Sorry Mayor Lee, you're only the second best now.  But truly you have an amazing mayor, you have an amazing city none of this would be possible without the best mayor in America. 
 
I'd also like to recognize and thank Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer.  I've known Chris for many years.  He's an amazing guy.  I had a chance to talk to Chris Hansen today, and he's a great guy.  He's been very successful, and his passion for Seattle and basketball, it's all good.  He's brought attention to the city of Seattle and basketball, and they'll always be in the conversation, so I'd like to thank them as well. 
 
I'd also like to thank the Maloofs.  They have been with this team for some time.  And again, I had a chance to chat with them briefly, and I fully expect, indeed, we'll be able to work with them. 
 
And last but not least, the fans of Sacramento.  You guys are simply amazing.  There is nothing I can say that can express how amazing you guys are.  So thank you to all of you and look forward to working with you in the future. 
 
MARK FRIEDMAN:  This is a big day for Sacramento.  I think several weeks ago it would be very, very difficult to imagine being here today.  But the kind of effort that we put together, the way in which the city and the community pulled together and put forth the proposal that we did is nothing short of remarkable. 
 
When I was a kid, my mom used to read me the book The Little Engine That Could, and that's kind of how I feel about Sacramento right now.  All through this process we've said I think we can, I think we can, I think we can, and today we did.  We couldn't have done that without the mayor and his extraordinary leadership, the way he rallied all of us has been absolutely remarkable. 
 
Vivek, you are a wonderful partner, a terrific leader.  Thank you for including all of us in this group. 
 
You know, we are on the cusp of doing something that is truly transformational in our community.  The construction of the new downtown arena will absolutely transform our downtown.  It will give us the kind of entertainment facilities that all of us have wanted for many years, and I have to thank the NBA for giving us that opportunity.  Because, as the mayor said, this is more than basketball, but it wouldn't be possible without basketball.  So thank you to the Commissioner and to the Board of Governors for giving us this opportunity.

Q.  Do you believe you can have everything done in 24 to 48 hours?  Is that reasonable? 

VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  Our lawyers have been talking for some time, and we believe we can get this done very quickly.
 
Q.  Have you begun your dialog with the Maloofs?

VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  Well, our lawyers and the Maloofs lawyers have actually been talking over the last few weeks, and they continue to do that.  So there is a lot of hard work over the next couple of days, but I fully expect we'll get there.

MAYOR JOHNSON:  I want to say one thing.  The important thing for us,
there was all this talk about the Maloofs would never sign a deal with Sacramento.
 
 We've never believed that and never heard that; that was not the case.  Lawyers on his side and the Maloofs side were having discussions for two, three or four weeks.  There was always a back up offer in place that people were negotiating. 
 
I don't know where that notion came from that the Maloofs would never sign or sell to a Sacramento group.  I've never heard that.  We got a chance to talk to them today.  I've talked to George Maloof several times over the last couple of weeks.  We're wishing each other well. 
You want a win win.  You don't ever want to do anything that's disparaging to Seattle.  If their offer got accepted, God bless Seattle.  But we were fighting to keep what was ours.  And I think the Maloof family were very intricate in us getting where we are today.
 
Q.  And where were you when you found out the news and what was the mood, and were you K.J.'ing? 
 
MAYOR JOHNSON:  Yeah, I did that.  We were all together on the second floor.  It was kind of our holding room, and we were all together we were watching the Stern press conference.  He confirmed.  You've heard a lot of people say it, but we weren't going to say anything or celebrate or react until the Commissioner ultimately made a statement. 
 
He said that the relocation committee denied the relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle.  We were excited about that and we listened very closely to everything that was said.  It was very clear that our groups are going to do everything we can to solidify a sale of a team to the Vivek Ownership Group which we're excited about, that is what the next few days are about.  And we listened carefully to what happened in Seattle.  The door was not closed for Seattle for down the road and in the future, and that's something that meant a lot for us as well.

Q.  I'm thinking back to a year ago in New York, and I think your exact words were, "The thing we know about the Maloofs is they're capable of changing their minds," and George said a few moments ago they don't feel like they're under any pressure to sell.  Is there a little part of you in the back of your mind that says this could all fall apart and hang on to the team and refuse to sell? 
 
MAYOR JOHNSON:  I don't think so.  We all know this is an emotional situation for their family.  God, they've given their heart and soul Sacramento and basketball.  They were once owners in Houston, got an opportunity to get a team again in Sacramento.  Some of the best historic days have been under the Maloofs' leadership.  We realize that. 
 
So for them, I'm sure there is mixed emotions.  One, they're going to get a hefty price to sell their team, which is, I'm sure good in one respect.  The other respect is they're not going to be owners of the team so I think it's going to be hard for them.  So I think there are mixed emotions, and what we do know today is the body that ultimately decides a relocation of a franchise voted to keep the team in Sacramento.  That is fact. 
 
I think it's very clear, and if you listen to George's comments, he said that his lawyers and Vivek's lawyers are having conversations.  He's going to talk to Chris Hansen.  But that Chris Hansen deal is not on the table anymore, and I think that's very clear.  So these are facts that are before us, and I think there will be an opportunity for us all to shake hands at some point once this is resolved and be able to move forward in a way that they'll ultimately feel good.  The city of Sacramento will feel good, and it's my hope that Seattle feels a sense of confidence that down the road they'll have an opportunity to have an NBA team again.
 
Q.  Point of clarification, when was the 100% purchase price put in escrow?  I know you talked about it at the airport yesterday, but we were unclear when that finally happened?
 
MAYOR JOHNSON:  I'm going to let the money man.
 
VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  We were told to put it in escrow yesterday, and so we put it in escrow yesterday.
 
MAYOR JOHNSON:  Let me say one thing.  The commitment on our ownership group was we're going to match the offer and tell us what we need to do to show we're serious about our commitment and we want to keep the team in Sacramento.  And at first it was 50%, so our ownership group put in 50%.  Then we decided collectively as owners and talking to the NBA, and the Maloof owners and everybody said, look, before the NBA Board of Governors full meeting, we'll put the hundred percent in escrow so that way you know our good faith effort and we're ready to close this deal upon an agreement being signed by both sides.  That is the ultimate commitment that our ownership group has made, and I don't want that to go unnoticed.
 
Q.  I know you've been confident all along, but at what point in time did you really think to yourself we've got this? 
 
MAYOR JOHNSON:  I mean, when you play sports, we'll talk the playoffs.  I don't know if this would be a good analogy or not.  But the first round of the playoffs and you still have to win four games to win that first round.  So there are four wins that you have to have to get out of the first round.  Then you need to get four wins to get into the second round and get beyond that and so forth. 
 
So, honestly, if you go back two years ago when the team didn't go to Anaheim, when the Maloofs decided not to sell to Anaheim or relocate to Anaheim or file, that was a big win for our community.  I felt like last year, a year ago when we had the arena deal, because that was the next thing we needed to do a financing plan, that was a big deal for our community.  That deal fell apart. 
 
Once we heard the team was going to be for sale and we knew what the price was, on January 9th, I remember like it was yesterday, I knew at that point when they were willing to accept a back up offer, and I don't want that to go unnoticed    when they were willing to accept a back up offer, that gave us as a chance as Sacramento to make good on that.  And I instantly started calling folks and it did not take long for us to get a group who said from Sacramento and up and down the state of California, we have an ownership group from San Diego, L.A., Silicon Valley, the Bay Area, the East Bay, and Sacramento, the whole state is represented in this commitment.  I knew at that point we could match the offer.  So I felt good about that. 
 
Then as time went on and the next victory was as the relocation committee voted as a subcommittee to say 7 0 a unanimous vote that we think the team should stay in Sacramento.  So we're advancing through the playoffs from one round to the next. 
 
When it became official today for the full board, I think we went to the next round of the playoffs, and now we're just waiting to see ultimately what happens between the lawyers, which I think can get resolved.  And hopefully in a 48 hour period or very soon, and ultimately it would have to go to a conference call.  I think the Commissioner said he would convene owners of the board on a conference call and accordingly, and I think that will hopefully be the final piece of this saga that's been going on for quite a long time.
 
Q.  The 22 8 vote, when you were in there during the meeting addressing the Board of Governors today, eight people voted for Seattle.  What were the major concerns that some of the people had about keeping the team in Sacramento would be the first question?  The second question would be is the ownership group as is today, there are reports that the ownership group has been changing and you've been looking to add additional minority owners; is it set going forward here? 
 
MAYOR JOHNSON:  I'll answer the first question, you do the second.  I'm the mayor.  You're not the owner of the team yet.  We've been having fun the whole time.  He's put me in my place many times. 
 
So I think in terms of your first question, the questions that came to us, I think it's important to understand this vetting process has been going on for like three months, four months, a long period of time.  The NBA has issued reports that the owners have read and what we went in there today, we said, look, we don't want to inundate you with data and talking points.  We want to be crisp.  We want to be clear.  Our point is we feel we have a strong market.  The city is going to make a significant investment for a new arena, and ultimately we have an ownership group that has the wherewithal to meet every NBA standard to deliver on a successful team. 
 
All of our owners are builders in their own right.  So the question I got is can you really deliver the financing plan?  Are there any big impediments?  I said our city has committed.  We have 15 votes.  Our city council, I want to thank our city manager, our assistant city manager.  I want to thank Dan Barrett, all of these folks who have contributed, our council members, that is to show a political strength and leadership, Darrell Steinberg and Ted Gaines.  We have Republicans and democrats, business and labor, all collectively together.  Yes, we're going to deliver.  Why?  Because it's bigger than basketball. 
 
We get a chance to transform our downtown community, something we've been trying to do.  We're talking about economic development and job creation.  So that was the question for me. 
 
The question Vivek got is can you be successful?  Can Sacramento as a market be successful?  And that's why we're betting on Sacramento.  We believe in Sacramento.  We know how loud it used to be.  We know about the fans.  We know about the sellouts.  We saw the corporate community step up in a short period of time.  We know that we can increase our TV deal and get a naming rights.  So our ownership group is also betting on the market, so we have questions there. 
 
Then Mark's question is can you build it?  Is there site control?  Can you get it done by 2016?  So those questions are ones that we've answered countless times.  The thing is we've had great answers that they felt very good about at the end of the day. 
 
VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  I just wanted to add that I felt the questions were very fair, and the whole process was very fair, so I have no complaints about the way it all worked out. 
 
We have this concept in Silicon Valley we call it smart money.  So you have money from many places, but I've always wanted to surround myself with people that are way smarter than me.  So we have actually taken some new money.  We've reduced existing people so we could make room for new money.  So I'm very proud to have Raj, the largest swimwear manufacturer in the country and a native of India join us as well.  Raj was in the meeting with us today. 
 
So what we were able to do is we took some people down in their commitment and we made room for Raj.  You've probably heard me talk before about how I want to make this a global brand, and I believe the Asian economies are a big market.  And in order to achieve my vision, we call NBA 3.0, we need to go global.  And Raj is going to drive much of our international aspirations.
 
MAYOR JOHNSON:  I wanted to say two things in relation.  I think Commissioner Stern talked about we need to have a certain amount in escrow.  This group did it, but they exceeded the amount that needed to be in escrow, so this is us over-delivering. 
 
Secondly, they're getting calls every day for the last month or two of people who want to participate.  It's a big deal to own an NBA franchise.  There are only 30 of them.  There are not very many of them.  So when people saw there might be an opportunity for them to play a role when they saw the leadership we have here, there is a line of people literally who are saying we want to participate.  So it's a good problem to have.  You're actually oversubscribed, which is a great problem, And I think that's what gave the rest of the owners a sense of confidence that we were not undercapitalized. 
 
This group had dollars necessary with a waiting list of people who want to participate. 
 
VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  Yeah, so we far exceeded what we said we would do.  Even when we were on our way here, I got a call from a couple of people asking to be part of this.  So there is no shortage of demand.  We want really smart people, and we've put together a team of just amazing people.

MAYOR JOHNSON:  Anybody from Seattle?  I see some Seattle folks here.  Okay.  All right.
 
Q.  Given all the negotiations leading up to this point in time, my question is how much leeway in negotiations would there be in the next two to three days with the Maloofs?  That being said, also, would there be a scenario in which they could become minority partners to some degree? 
 
VIVEK RANADIVÉ:  I don't want to discuss the deal in front of the press, but I feel pretty confident we can get something done in the next few days.  So I think we'll    as far as the second question, I haven't really considered that.

MAYOR JOHNSON:  I want to thank Phil, Kevin, and Lisa, part of our ownership group as well, and a good day for Sacramento.  We'll keep plugging away, and we're looking forward to coming home.
 
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