Gavin Maloof: “When we purchased the Kings that was the greatest day of my life. This is probably the second greatest”

February 29, 2012 – 7:45 am by Chris Fedor

About one year ago it looked like the Kings were going to leave Sacramento. After a failed proposal, the ninth failed proposal, to try to keep the Kings in Sac-Town, it came out that the ownership group of the Kings, the Maloofs, were even exploring options in Anaheim. However, earlier this week everything changed.

After a long, arduous process, it looks like basketball fans and fans of the Kings have a reason to celebrate. Earlier this week all the parties involved reached a tentative agreement on the framework of a deal to get a new entertainment and sports complex built that will solidify the Kings staying in Sacramento. This deal never would have gotten done if not for Mayor Kevin Johnson’s hard work and the Maloofs willing to open their checkbook and invest in the city of Sacramento the way the city of Sacramento has invested in the Kings for so many years. The deal is not finalized yet and there are still hurdles to leap over, but the biggest hurdle has been cleared and it looks like Sacramento will be able to keep its basketball team.

Gavin Maloof and Mayor Kevin Johnson joined KHTK in Sacramento with Grant Napier to talk about getting choked up when he was announcing that the framework of a deal to keep the Kings in Sacramento was agreed upon, on the fans being critical of the ownership in the past, whether the Kings will have money now to improve the team on the court, if they thought this deal was actually going to ever get done, the support from the fans, and the biggest hurdle left for them to clear.

On getting chocked up when talking about the framework of a deal being agreed upon to keep the Kings in Sacaramento:

GM: “Just so emotional for me that I couldn’t hold back. I don’t know what came over me. It’s 13 years of trials and tribulations, defeats, and arena proposals. This was our tenth proposal and it all came to a head so I really couldn’t control my emotions. I’m so excited and there’s so many people to thank. Mayor Johnson, his city staff, Commissioner Stern, his people, and everybody came together and worked toward a common goal which was to get an arena built for all our great fans in Sacramento and all of the sponsors. Just a great day for the entire region.”

On the fans being critical of ownership at times:

GM “Obviously nobody wants to hear criticism. We’re human but on the other hand we’re big boys so we can handle it. I don’t think that our viewpoint has ever changed that we love the city. We’ve always said we want to stay in Sacramento, we never wanted to leave. It was really never about the fans, it was never about the corporate committee, it was about an arena. After nine failed attempts you throw your hands up and say what else can we do?  I think Mayor Johnson and his staff worked tirelessly for a year, we got engaged and involved in the community like we always have been, and we’ve always given, so this is a great ending to what we believe will be a beacon for the region with this brand new arena. We will have the newest arena in the NBA and we can say that. The city of Sacramento can be proud that we can say that finally.”

On people doubting the Maloofs having money to support a team:

GM “We’ve always said we had money but nobody seemed to believe us. We’re putting in close to 73 million and we will double that with the commitment of our lease so close to 140 million that we will be contributing.”

Whether he thought this day would actually come:

GM “No I couldn’t believe it. That’s why I was so emotional. It’s been a long haul for us. We’ve been in the league for 16 years not to mention the number of years it took us to purchase a team. When we purchased the Kings that was the greatest day of my life. This is probably the second greatest day of my life, getting an arena built. Like I said we will have the newest arena in the NBA. How many teams can say that? Only one and that will be us.”

On his feelings now that the deal is done

KJ: “It truly is a new day in Sacramento. The destiny and the future of this community will be changed forever. We would not be here had it not been for the effort of many, many, many people. In particular I just want to thank the Maloofs. I mean they made a sincere effort to make this deal work, they stepped up financially, they put their heart and soul into it, and I think you saw Gavin, he broke down and got emotional and they wanted to be a part of this community. They’re all in and I’m just proud to have played a small role in making this a reality for Sacramento.”

On the support from the fans:

KJ: “It’s very nostalgic what you said but it was critical for us to make this deal and let me tell you why. Remember the last game of the season, I think it was April 13th of 2011 where many fans were in the building and they didn’t want to leave and they thought this was the last time that they would be able to root on their home team, the Sacramento Kings. It was very emotional for all of us. I was back in New York the next day and ended up getting a reprieve of one year. Part of the reason why we got the reprieve, the Commissioner, the Maloofs, and the relocation committee decided to give us another year and the Maloofs didn’t file for relocation was for this one reason, if you look at the last 26 years our fans have sold out games for 19 of those 26 years. In 19 of those years we only made the playoffs half the time. The fans are what kept us in the game. That let the NBA owners and the Maloofs know that we have a good basketball market and they own 100 percent of this market. Those fans have come out when you’re winning, they come out when you’re doing okay, when you’re losing, and they just want a team that plays hard, plays with good energy, and respects the fans in the community. I think right now had it not been for our fans we would not have been able to have another year to prove what we can do and we essentially proved there is a clear path to a funding plan that is doable.”

On the biggest hurdle remaining:

“I think honestly we have overcome the biggest hurdle at this point. They said they wanted to stay, we found a way to make the numbers work, we’re going to update council members, put it before the public, the biggest and last hurdle at his point is the vote on March 6th. I’m very confident that council member will feel good about what we are bringing forward.”

Listen to Gavin Maloof on KHTK in Sacaramento here

Listen to Kevin Johnson on KHTK in Sacramento here

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