Basketball

Sacramento keeps Kings ... for now

The Kings and the NBA gave Sacramento one last chance to prove it deserves to be an NBA city.

Now it’s up to Mayor Kevin Johnson and the business community to come up with a viable plan for a new arena after so many failed attempts in the past.

“This is one of the proudest moments of my life because the community believed when no one else did,” Johnson said. “We kept believing. And if you believe, anything is possible.”

The decision by the Maloof family to keep their team in Sacramento rather than apply for relocation to Anaheim, Calif., is temporary. Co-owner Joe Maloof and NBA commissioner David Stern made clear that the team will leave after next season if an arena plan is not in place.

“We spent 13 years and millions of dollars to try to get an arena built,” Maloof said. “We don’t have the answer. The mayor has the answers and we’re willing and able to listen. He’s got to have a plan. We never want to be untruthful to the fans of Sacramento. There is a sense of urgency, and that’s up to Mayor Johnson and his political team.”

Stern praised Johnson, a former NBA All-Star guard who played for Cleveland and Phoenix for 12 seasons, for his Herculean effort at mobilizing the community to keep the team.

Stern’s support for another chance for Sacramento is a far cry from his stance during the All-Star break, when he said the league would spend no more time trying to get an arena built in California’s capital city.

At that point, the Kings’ departure seemed almost inevitable. But after two extensions of a March 1 deadline for relocation, and Johnson’s efforts to arrange $10 million in sponsorship pledges from the corporate community, the city gets another chance.

Stern said he is sending a team of nine league officials to Sacramento this week to assist with marketing, tickets and the arena.

“We’re going to put all of our efforts in Sacramento and make it happen and make it succeed,” Stern said. “But if it can’t and this becomes yet the fifth or sixth or seventh, it will be the last as far as we’re concerned, for an effort in regards to an arena.

“I pledged support for a move to another market.”

Sacramento has turned down initiatives to contribute public dollars to replace or upgrade the arena.

ROSE WINS MVP

Chicago point guard Derrick Rose reportedly has become the NBA’s youngest MVP and joined Michael Jordan as the only Bulls to win the award.

The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because a formal announcement has not been made.

The news is hardly a surprise after Rose had a spectacular season in which he led Chicago to the best record in the league.

He averaged 25 points and 7.7 assists in the regular season.

Rose was the No. 1 overall pick in 2008 out of Memphis.

Rose ended the two-year reign of LeBron James as MVP and the 22-year-old supplanted Wes Unseld, who at 23 was the rookie of the year and youngest MVP with Baltimore Bullets for the 1968-69 season.

FASTBREAKS

In the aftermath of the death of bin Laden, the NBA issued a mandate to use metal detectors for the conference semifinals and all subsequent playoff games. ... TV viewership for the first round of the playoffs was up 30 percent from last year. First-round games on ABC, ESPN and TNT were watched by an average of 4.15 million people, up from fewer than 3.2 million last year.

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