ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Sacramento Kings owner Joe Maloof made his first public comment about his franchise's possible relocation to Anaheim on Monday night, criticizing a letter sent between the cities' governments.
Maloof spoke briefly to the Orange County Register after a Sacramento city official wrote to Anaheim's city manager asking Anaheim to stop negotiations with the Kings.
The letter from Sacramento Assistant City Manager John Dangberg claims a move could cause "irreparable harm to the City of Sacramento" if the Kings default on a $73 million loan from the city. Dangberg called Anaheim's negotiations with the Kings "bad public policy at a minimum," asking for contractual assurance the Kings will pay their debt before they get more bonds from Anaheim.
"That letter is completely wrong, and it was uncalled for - below the belt - and it's a shame it had to come out of his office," Maloof told the Register. "We tried to be classy and not get in arguments in the media, but I (have to) make this comment. We will continue on with our business and do what is best for the viability of the franchise - what's best for the franchise and what's best for the league."
The letter also asks Anaheim not to authorize $75 million in bonds to aid the move. The Anaheim city council is expected to vote on a financial plan to entice an NBA team to move to the city-owned Honda Center in a special meeting Tuesday night.
"It's not for the mayor or anybody to interfere with our business," Maloof told the Register. "That's what I think they're doing, and it's not right. We would appreciate that they not interfere with our business."
Maloof didn't return phone and text messages from The Associated Press late Monday night.
The Maloofs have been in private discussions for several months on a move out of their aging Sacramento building formerly known as Arco Arena. They must file for relocation with the NBA by April 18 to start the process, which would include a vote among the league's other owners.
Sacramento issued the bonds for a loan to the Kings in July 1997, two years before the Maloofs bought the franchise. The Kings will owe Sacramento roughly $77 million if they leave this summer.
"We've always satisfied our obligations to the City of Sacramento," Maloof said. "We're honest businesspeople, and we have never missed a payment. In fact, we're way ahead of schedule. A couple of years ago, we paid somewhere between $9 million and $11 million ahead because we wanted to lower the debt.
"We've always paid our financial obligations in the past, we're going to do it in the present, and we're going to do it in the future. They have nothing to worry about. They will be paid in full, whatever it takes."