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Microsoft’s Ballmer Aiming to Bring Basketball Back to Seattle
The Seattle Microserfs? The Blue Screen of Dunk? Get your nickname-generator readyMicrosoft CEO Steve Ballmer is reportedly leading a group that’s finalizing a deal to buy the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and bring the team to Seattle.
League sources told Yahoo Sports that the $500 million agreement would land the team in northwest Washington, filling a void left when the Seattle Supersonics—the city’s last professional basketball team—was moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 and renamed the Thunder.
Ballmer is reportedly teaming up with hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen (not to be confused with the host of Dateline’s To Catch a Predator) to put together the deal.
The Microsoft CEO and his partner are aiming to snag the franchise in time for the 2013-14 season. The plan, according to Yahoo Sports, is to play two seasons in Seattle’s KeyArena before moving into a new venue.
But Kings owners the Maloof family, the franchise’s longest-tenured owners, may be the biggest speed bump.
According to Yahoo Sports, the family’s history of changing course late in negotiations has some parties uneasy about completing the deal, especially after they backed out of a close-to-complete deal with Sacramento executives to help finance a new arena in California’s capital city.
Once the agreement is signed, sealed, and delivered, Ballmer would join an elite group of tech moguls-turned-NBA owners, including the Dallas Mavericks’ Mark Cuban, Memphis Grizzlies’ Robert Pera, Golden State Warriors’ Joe Lacob, and of course, Ballmer’s pal and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who owns the Portland Trailblazers.
If all goes well, the franchise would change its name to the Sonics and sport the same logo sorely missed in Seattle since NBA basketball left town. The good news for Ballmer and Hansen is that NBA commissioner David Stern is reportedly a supporter of the deal. Yahoo Sports said that Stern and other league officials are poised to help the franchise move to Seattle and not spend “a final lame-duck season in Sacramento.”
Ballmer has had plenty to keep him busy lately, even without the added stress of keeping tabs on 15 pro athletes. Just last year, Microsoft released its new Windows 8 operating systems, with the former achieving 60 million licenses sold since its late-October release. Additionally, the company launched its Surface tablet and ramped up its mobile device platform with the release of Windows Phone 8.
For more about Microsoft in 2012, check out PCMag’s A ‘Reimagined’ Windows: Microsoft’s Year in Review.
By Stephanie Mlot, PCMag