Firsts are always special.
“I love it here. My first trip [as NBA commissioner] is to Sacramento to be with [Kings owner Vivek Ranadive],” Adam Silver said as he headed in to watch the Sacramento Kings wrestle with the Raptors.
A delayed landing in Sacramento due to bad weather back east, didn’t damper his enthusiasm for the the new throne the Kings have planned.
“It’s fantastic. As Vivek says, it’s NBA 3.0,” he said.
This visit from the top of basketball was not lost on the fans who fought all of 2013 to show the NBA their team should stay in their town.
“I think he’ll be a great commissioner and I’m really glad he’s here tonight to see the game,” Kings fan Lynne Hodge as she waved a fan featuring Silver’s likeness made by CrownDowntown as a welcome gesture.
At this juncture of a team being rebuilt by new owners and a promise to the NBA for a new arena, Silver’s visit isn’t all about smiling face fans.
A lawsuit looms by Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork to reinstate their petition to put the city’s arena plan to a public vote.
That petition was tossed out last month by the city clerk because varying versions meant all voters weren’t presented with the same information.
“I think there’re serious problems when you don’t have language, the same language and I think a court would be hard-pressed to go ahead and allow it to go through,” Jerry Kumpf, a fan from Citrus Heights, said during the game.
Confidence from the crowd has been consistent as well as from Kings leadership.
“All systems go,” said Kings President Chris Granger when asked about the arena lawsuit Wednesday night.
But, what would be the word from the man who could reverse Sacramento’s fortunes in keeping the Kings if the arena doesn’t become a reality?
“I’ve known Kevin Johnson for 20 years, player, broadcaster and now mayor. I’ve been to dozens of meetings with political advisers and talking to Vivek and his partners,” Silver told reporters. “I’m absolutely confident it’s going to get done.”
Silver toured the Downtown Plaza, the proposed site for the new arena, late Wednesday night after the Kings game. The private tour was led by Mayor Johnson and leaders of the new Kings ownership group.
With all the work done by Ranadive to create excitement for the Kings in India, Silver also says he’s planning a joint visit there in the spring.
According to Silver, Indian arena infrastructure is not yet in place, but he says pre-season games there might be a possibility in the future.
On top of all that, the Kings defeated the Toronto Raptors 109-101.