I spent $9.77 on Sunday, September 22 to purchase the e-book released by R.E. Graswich "Vagrant Kings: David Stern, Kevin Johnson and the NBA's Orphan Team." This is my biased book review.
I'll start off with letting you know that I strongly doubt there is any hope the Kings will be available for relocation or sale to HBNW in the next five years. I think the League is going to force that team to stay in Sacramento for at least another five years and if they (City of Sacramento, team owners) still can't get that team to work there, then it will become a very, very valuable franchise (highly moveable, nice ROI for the many new owners of the Kings).
What I was hoping to learn while reading this book was proof or at least a third party witness account of what I think all of us suspected was happening from January through May 15, 2013: Stern was the sole person responsible for keeping the Kings in Sacramento. Not the egoistic grandstanding by Mayor Kevin Johnson, not the passion of Ranadive to own a team and do good in Sacramento, not the fans, not the suddenly "altruistic" relocation committee chaired by Bennett who just couldn't, absolutely couldn't, find it in their hearts to approve the relocation application...
It does and doesn't.
About a third of the way through the book I put it down because it seemed more a story about that silly "little city that could mantra" only extolling it by promoting the political sleaze as "the good guys win" type spin.
Plus, it was boring, especially the history of the King's in Sacramento, with Graswich unintentionally proving the point that the Kings franchise has a tough time in that market. Again, I'm biased and doubtfully will ever be a Sacramento Kings fan especially now.
His book is filled with errors about Seattle, for example:
But Hansen's quick-kill strategy carried a monumental risk. When they agreed to buy the Kings before the team was relocated, Hansen and Ballmer threw away the Maloof family's strongest leverage point with the NBA. They gave up the unilateral right to move to Seattle without the NBA's blessing-a right backed by the threat of a federal antitrust lawsuit.
The Maloofs filed for relocation to Seattle, not Hansen.
Just a few pages later Graswich writes:
But to Stern (and those federal judges), the order was everything. And Hansen and Baller [sic] has it all wrong. They were doing it backwards. Once the NBA allowed Hansen and Ballmer into the league, the NBA would be powerless to stop them from relocating the Kings to Seattle. What was the solution to save Sacramento's team? Stern would make a calculated gamble by getting his owners to deny the move before Hansen and Ballmer gained control of the team.
Simply and brilliantly, Stern reversed the agenda. The Seattle men anticipated that their approval as NBA owners would be the first order of business. But Stern had the Board of Governors vote on the move first, before anything else, while the Maloofs still technically owned the Kings.
So what is it Graswich? If the owners could not technically stop the right of the Maloofs to move the team, why do this?
Another error, this time on Ballmer's reaction after the shocking April 29 relocation committee vote:
Ballmer, unaccustomed to seeing his wealth rejected, went on a Seattle radio show and said, "I'm horribly, horribly disappointed."
Umm, no, Ballmer did not go on any Seattle radio show. He said those words in a private conversation with radio host Mitch Levy and it was Mitch who repeated those words to his audience. This is sloppy writing by Graswich.
Another falsity is the comment that Ballmer never stepped up save the SuperSonics from leaving. Gee Graswich, what about that little thing you write about the owner of a team having the ultimate control of said team once they become an owner? Bennett didn't want to keep the team in Seattle, even after Ballmer offered to give $150 million towards a new arena, wonder why?
Oh, and the other "source" he gives us regarding the NBA's choosing Sacramento over Seattle? None other than the twitter conversation between Dahnee and Arison. Yes - that is the extent of his journalistic research into why Seattle was rejected.
There is more and it's just as sloppy and dismissive, not worth anymore time.
If there was any doubt regarding the impropriety of Stern, Burkle, Mayor Kevin Johnson, Think Big, Jeremiah Jackson, Darius Anderson, Ranadive, this book removes that doubt - only doing it in a way that celebrates it as the reason why Sacramento is just such a great market for the NBA. I can see why the Maloofs were trying to flee that market for years. I know the Maloofs are by no means morally upright people, however the people (including Graswich) who condemn and ridicule them are just as bad.
Graswich makes out that the rejection by the relocation committee was a foregone conclusion as soon as Stern stated the relocation vote would be made first. He insinuates that only a few smart people knew this as soon as that announcement was made (implying that he himself was a member of this secret and superior elite group of know-it-alls watching us amusingly as we spinned out of control with worry and fear). That Stern, masterfully, doomed our hopes and dreams by making the relocation approval come first.
So by HBNW doing what was right in the beginning, to not be another Bennett, was what in the end left us without a team again. With the witch that is David Stern out in four months, hopefully that darkness will be lifted for the return of the Seattle SuperSonics.
Vagrant Kings, whether it was Graswich's intention or not, only proves the skeptical and cynical attitude most of us have on this site regarding the NBA. Graswich seems to think he's writing a story or memoir of this perennial victimized fanbase/citizenship of Sacramento/King fans and the success in "saving the Kings". What he's done is shown the sleaze and scum that kept the team there and in his parallel universe, these are the good guys, the heroes. Sad.