Let's be honest with ourselves, how many of us are fans of the Maloofs and their overall contribution to this franchise? One, two... ok, Joe, Gavin, put your hands down. Now, it wasn't all bad in the beginning, the Kings made the 1995-96 playoffs (surprising since we were not a good team), which in turn attracted the attention of the Maloofs, itching to get back into basketball. And soon, we were not only back in the playoffs, we were a future dynasty.
We know what happened the rest of the way, most of us are the nouveau fans -- seduced by the style, flair, pizzazz of those C-Webb-Vlade-JWill teams. We did not care who owned the Kings, we only enjoyed the oncourt product, and what a product it was. We were 'Hit Me Baby, One More Time' Britney, young and sexy and on every fan's TV. We were destined to reign supreme for time immemorial.
Oh, why did we have to be Britney?
Anyway, we're back to the question of ownership. I'm sure everyone here has sort of heard about the Russian billionaire bidding for the Nets and what that possibly means for the future of that franchise. Already parallels to English soccer teams are being drawn. The Nets are going to be the next Chelsea Football Club -- a super team that will have 12 superstar players, led by the best coaches in the world, salary caps and economic downturn be damned. Or so the story goes.
In England, a lot of people still harbor resentment towards foreign ownership, as if the very fact that a foreigner sits at the top signifies that he/she will not and can not even begin to appreciate the history and importance the team has for the local populace. Because, if you aren't a lifer, you aren't a real fan.
How the Nets fans feel about having a team owner who's not... local, who may or may not have a vested interest in keeping the team in NJ when times get tough (and how 'tough' is completely arbitrarily defined), who may or may not be looking to hijack ship Clay Bennett style, I'm not gonna touch. What I'm gonna touch on is, how important is it for our NBA team to have 'local' ownership?
We aren't attached to our current team owners. They aren't Sacramento through and through. And since 06, they've looked for someone else to foot the bill for a better arena. They've threatened, are threatening relocation. They're American and won't hesitate to move it anywhere within the 50 that gets them more revenue because... this is a business. (Poor choice of words, colored by frustration and cynicism?)
Now over the pond, you have Russian oligarchs, Arab sheikhs, Asian businessmen all taking over clubs. Even American tycoons (the Glazers with Manchester United and George Gillett Jr & Tom Hicks with Liverpool) own the more traditionally successful English clubs, and are losing vast amounts of money over it. And herein lies the irony.
If a foreign owner loses money over the team and looks to relocate to increase its revenue stream, the league will oppose it, no ands, ifs or buts. Will oppose it with the strength of a thousand suns, or David Stern's "Trump Hair" extra hold gel. It's not like the foreign owner is going to garner local support in any other town in the US, and they can't exactly move it back home to be the "Siberian Tiger Nets" or "Abu Dhabi Petroleum Kings". They are stuck in town, for better or worse, for poorer or poorer.
The only 'worry' is that the foreign investor is looking to be in the game for the short term, that they are looking to sell to the highest bidder in the shortest time possible. Well... how's that different from what happens with the current brood of owners in the NBA today? Not everyone's Mark Cuban (and I'm not sure if I should, but do give thanks for that), and not everyone's Howard Schultz (the guy who sold the Sonics). But there are more owners like Schultz than Cuban, who are looking to turn the team into a profit.
I guess at the end of the day I'm just wondering, if some foreign billionaire who made his fortune selling teeth whitener to Japanese tourists decided to buy the Sacramento Kings... would we oppose it, and why should we? For all we know, he'd do a better job investing in the team and keeping it in Sacramento than anyone in North America.
The players are global. The fan base is global. Maybe ownership should be too.