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Nothing comes easy for Sonics fans; report heavy hitters for Sacramento entering Kings deal

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson speaks during a news conference to introduce the first part of his four-step plan to keep the Sacramento Kings NBA basketball team in Sacramento, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. Johnson, who said he has 19 local investors who have pledged at least $1 million each to buy the franchise, made his announcement a day after the Maloof family announced it has signed an agreement to sell the Kings to a Seattle group led by investor Chris Hansen. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Maybe the Sacramento offer isn’t going to be as big a joke as Sonics fans were hoping.

All day Tuesday, we’d heard Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson was going to announce a major counter offer – from a gang of Sacramento powerbrokers. Instead, we got this:

“In three days we got 19 people to come in at $1 million dollars,” said Johnson. “Isn’t that the Sacramento story? Isn’t that who we are as a community?”

That’s the Sacramento story: a measly $19 million? That was the big announcement when we’re talking about a $525 million price tag?

The hometown cheers only made the pitch sound that much more bush league. A few minutes later, the mayor exhorted the crowd to give them all another round of applause.

It felt like the mayor was leading a small town pep rally rather than making a serious counter offer to keep a pro NBA team in town. Plus, he buried the lead.

“A lot of you are going to want to know about the equity major partner. We are doing everything we can to put ourselves in position to announce that and who they are by the end of this week. Can I guarantee it today? Absolutely not,” said Johnson.

It was as if Sacramento puffed up its chest and then let out a squeak. Seattle fans went to bed a bit relieved.

But then overnight, a USA Today story broke that Sacramento had indeed lined up a couple of serious heavy hitters, including the billionaire owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins Ron Burkle and the founder of 24-hour Fitness Mark Mastrov.

Mastrov had earlier made a run at the Golden State Warriors in 2010, so we know he has an ongoing interest in the NBA.

Anonymous sources tell USA Today the two men are working together to make a serious bid to buy the Sacramento Kings.

The NBA confirmed Monday the proposed sale of the Sacramento Kings to Chris Hansen’s Seattle investment group who plans to move the team to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name.

But apparently nothing comes easy for Sonics fans.

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