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Sacramento "whale" watch: Billionaire reportedly meets with NBA

Numerous sources say Billionaire Ron Burkle met Thursday with NBA Commissioner David Stern to talk about buying the Sacramento Kings and building a new downtown arena, further complicating the deal to sell the team to a group of Seattle investors led by Chris Hansen. (AP file)

Numerous sources say Billionaire Ron Burkle met Thursday with NBA Commissioner David Stern to talk about buying the Sacramento Kings and building a new downtown arena, further complicating the deal to sell the team to a group of Seattle investors led by Chris Hansen.

The Sacramento Bee reports the supermarket magnate and co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins met in Stern's office in New York City. A source said the focus of the conversation was the "future position of Sacramento as an NBA city."

USA Today also reported the meeting, and said Burkle is in serious talks to partner with 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov to lead a counter offer for the Kings and keep them in Sacramento.

Mayor Kevin Johnson said earlier this week he hopes to announce several "major equity investors" some time next week to counter the deal announced earlier this week between investor Chris Hansen and the Maloof family, majority owners of the Kings.

The reports cap a wild week that saw the NBA, Hansen and the Maloofs announce the deal for their 65 percent share of the team, seemingly paving the way for the team's move to Seattle as early as next season.

But with the NBA promising Johnson a chance to present a counteroffer to the league's Board of Governors in April, numerous reports of deep pocketed investors lining up to join the effort and minority owners claiming they have first right of refusal to buy the team from the Maloofs, the situation remains far from resolved.

About the Author


Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.

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