co-owner George Maloof addresses reporters from outside a bell stand closet. (@SacTownRoyalty)
Did Kings co-owner George Maloof take cover from reporters in a Dallas Marriott's bell stand closet after NBA commissioner David Stern announced Wednesday that the league's Board of Governors had voted down a plan to move Sacramento's basketball team to Seattle?
Kevin Fippin of Kings blog SacTownRoyalty.com reported that Maloof briefly entered the closet to avoid a crush of cameras. He later exited the closet and addressed reporters.
"Media just chased George Maloof into the Bell Stand closet!!! UNREAL!!," Fippin reported in a series of Twitter posts that included a photograph of the media scrum converging on the closet, which is adjacent to the hotel's main entrance. "He is in a closet guys!!! ... George opened the door for a second and closed when he saw this! ... Guys, I don’t make up who gets chased across a hotel lobby into a bell check closet. I’m not that awesome!"
Update: USA Today Sports painted a less sensational version of events: "He stepped in to get his bag and stepped out and kept talking."
Either way, what a perfectly ridiculous flourish to conclude a months-long circus. Of all places.
National media members and reporters from both Seattle and Sacramento converged on the Dallas hotel after previous Board of Governors meetings in New York City did not produce a resolution to the future of the Kings. Fans of both the SuperSonics and Kings waited for the results of the vote in the hotel's lobby, as captured in this photograph by @NickMonacelli.
Sonics fans and Kings fans camped out in a hotel to await news of the franchise's fate. @NickMonacelli
The NBA's Board of Governors voted 22-8 to block a Seattle-area investment group's bid to relocate the Kings. With that result in hand, Stern told reporters Wednesday that the league would proceed with efforts to negotiate a sale that would transfer the Kings from the Maloof family to a California-based group formed by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and led by TIBCO chairman Vivek Ranadive.
Stern expressed optimism Wednesday that a deal could be reached between the Maloofs and Ranadive, saying that the process could take a day or two.
“I anticipate that they will come to be open [to a deal] and I plan to visit with them and close, hopefully, on that anticipation,” he said. “The Maloofs have the right to retain ownership of the franchise. … It’s my expectation that we will be able to make a deal… to transfer the title of the team in Sacramento.”
Maloof, who had previously indicated multiple times that he wanted his sale agreement with Seattle's Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer to be approved by the league, took questions about the state of his franchise once he emerged from the closet.
“If it had to turn out this way, it’s fine with us,” he said, according to NBA.com. “But my loyalty’s to Chris because he stepped up. … [Johnson] did a great job. He put a great team together. We’ll see what happens. It’s not over.”
This post has been updated.