Tonight's Kings' game versus the Lakers at Power Balance Arena may be the Last Basketball Show in Sacramento, as the team's owners, the Maloof family, are expected to ask the NBA for permission to move the team to Anaheim.
But last night on TNT's basketball broadcast, former Kings' star Chris Webber intriguingly dangled a potential eleventh-hour reprieve when he said he was trying to keep the team in Sacramento.
Sacramento Bee columnist Ailene Voisin followed up and blogged this today:
Though Webber refused to be specific on-air about the extent of his commitment, after making a few late-night phone calls, I reached original Sacramento Kings executive vice-president Greg Van Dusen, who offered a few specifics. According to Van Dusen, Webber is willing to facilitate a deal - headed by Roger Stewart of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to "restructure" the city's $77 million loan to the club. Van Dusen, who is working with Arco I and II architect Rann Haight.
"We've been working on this for about three months," said Van Dusen. "The idea is to relieve some of the financial pressure on the Maloofs and the ownership group. Roger had a very positive conversation today (Tuesday) with Chris, who isn't only interested in helping, he wants to lead the effort to keep the Kings here. He loves Sacramento and thinks this is where the Kings belong."
Although I was unable to reach Webber at his home in Atlanta late Tuesday night, I am aware that he has made overtures about buying into the Maloofs' majority ownership, but has been rebuffed.
Here's the video of Webber in discussion with Charles Barkley and Ernie Johnson last night. Partial transcript:
"I didn't want to go there (Sacramento). I tried to run away from there. They still accepted me. I can't imagine what Sacramento would be like without basketball ... I hope we do not lose the team. I've been talking to people there. I know everyone thinks the team is gone, but I'm doing all I can to keep the team there. I may sound like a fool on national TV, but I'm working to do that. Other people are working to do that ... It's very selfish. I won't have a basketball home if Sacramento doesn't have a basketball team. I was talking to (former Sonics star) Gary Payton. He doesn't have his jersey hanging in any arena. There is no team in Seattle. Selfishly for myself, and for the fans in Sacramento ....
Ernie Johnson: "What are you doing (to further efforts)?"
Webber: "What am I doing? I'm trying to keep the team here. We don't want to talk a bout it, but ... what else am i supoed to do? I love this team. I still want to haved a home in Sacramento. Hopefully it's not a lost cause. I love Sacramento."