When Chris Hansen wanted to found a hedge fund, he did it in San Francisco; his hometown, Seattle, apparently lacked the caché.
But Hansen hasn’t forgotten where he comes from. And he still bleeds green and gold, even five years after the SuperSonics played their last game in the KeyArena.
Crucially, however, and crucially unlike any fans of, say, a former Los Angeles football team, the New Jersey Nets, Atlanta Thrashers, Montréal Expos, Vancouver Grizzlies, Hartford Whalers and Québec Nordiques, Hansen has both the wherewithal to buy Seattle a new basketball team and build it a new arena, an available badly-run franchise on the block, and the ability to overlook the fact that he’s doing the same thing to Sacramento that Oklahoma City did to Seattle in 2008. Or, for that matter, what Sacramento did to Kansas City in 1985.
Hansen, who runs Valiant Capital Management in San Francisco, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, have agreed to buy a majority stake in the Sacramento Kings. The deal, which will give Hansen and Ballmer a 65% stake in the team, values the Kings at $525 million.
The deal’s not done yet for the Sonics to return to Puget Sound. The mayor of Sacramento apparently has the acquiesce of NBA Commissioner David Stern—from whose pronouncements during last year’s lockout one can only conclude that owning a basketball team is little better than investing with Bernie Madoff or Sam Israel—to try to find some buyers to keep the Kings in California’s capital. Maybe Sacramento-based CalPERS is feeling frisky enough to do something stupid?