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
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
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
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
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
VIVEK RANADIVÉ: Our lawyers have been
talking for some time, and we believe we can get this done very
Q. Have you begun your dialog with the
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
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
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
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
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
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
MAYOR JOHNSON: I'm going to let the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
MAYOR JOHNSON: Anybody from Seattle?
I see some Seattle folks here. Okay. All
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
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
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.