The Kings and the NBA gave Sacramento one last chance to prove it deserves to be an NBA city.
Now it’s up to Mayor Kevin Johnson and the business community to come up with a viable plan for a new arena after so many failed attempts in the past.
“This is one of the proudest moments of my life because the community believed when no one else did,’’ Johnson said yesterday.
The decision by the Maloof family to keep their team in Sacramento rather than apply for relocation to Anaheim, Calif., is only temporary. Co-owner Joe Maloof and NBA commissioner David Stern made clear that the team will leave after next season if an arena plan is not in place.
“We spent 13 years and millions of dollars to try to get an arena built,’’ Maloof said. “We don’t have the answer. The mayor has the answers and we’re willing and able to listen. He’s got to have a plan.’’
Stern praised Johnson, a former NBA All-Star, for his Herculean effort at mobilizing the community to keep the team. Stern’s support for another chance for Sacramento is a far cry from his stance during the All-Star break in February, when he said the league would spend no more time trying to get an arena built in California’s capital city.
At that point, the Kings’ departure seemed almost inevitable. But after two extensions of a March 1 deadline for relocation, and Johnson’s efforts to arrange $10 million in sponsorship pledges from the corporate community, the city gets another chance.
“We’re going to put all of our efforts in Sacramento and make it happen and make it succeed,’’ Stern said. “But if it can’t and this becomes yet the fifth or sixth or seventh, it will be the last as far as we’re concerned, for an effort in regards to an arena.’’
TV ratings take a jump Television viewership for the NBA playoffs is up nearly a third from last season. First-round games on ABC, ESPN, and TNT were watched by an average of 4.15 million people, up from fewer than 3.2 million last year.