The Sacramento Kings are, it would seem, blessedly close to being rid of the Maloofs, two of the worst owners in sports. That comes with a hitch, though—it might mean that the Kings are finished with Sacramento. Here's a rundown of the people in the running to purchase the Kings, and what it would mean for the franchise.
Who is he? Dale Carlsen, mattress retailer.
Not to be confused with: Dale Carlson, head football coach at Valparaiso University.
Who has connected him to the Kings? The Sacramento Bee, among others.
Why is he so rich? The mattress game is apparently a kind mistress: Carlsen founded the Sleep Train Mattress Center in 1985. After he bought up 54 Mattress Discounters locations in 2002, the company became the most visible and successful mattress retailer on the West Coast—third in the country, according to Wikipedia, and one which has made enough money to bid on and win the naming rights to the Kings' arena just before the season started in October. The Sleep Train empire consists of 255 stores, and the brand made an estimated $371.8 million of sales in 2011.
Any reason to like him? This (insane) article says he once personally fired Rush Limbaugh for insulting feminists.
Where would the team play if he acquired them? Sacramento. Carlsen attended CSU-Sacramento, has said he's talking with Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson about his bid, and when Sleep Train bought the naming rights for what had been Arco Arena, the Sacramento Business Journal wrote:
"It's really about how do we support the community," Carlsen said.
He said he and his employee-owned company want to ensure the region keeps a venue for entertainment — whether it's concerts, the circus, big truck shows or professional basketball.
Who is he? Mark Mastrov
Who has connected him to the Kings? Ken Berger of CBS Sports, among others.
His last name sounds sort of Russian. Is he Russian? No, I don't think so.
Why's he so rich? He founded 24-Hour Fitness in 1983 (then a one-location operation called 24 Hour Nautilus), a chain of gyms that has more members than any other fitness chain in the world, and the third most locations. Wikipedia informs us it has 425 clubs, 18,000 employees and sponsorship tie-in with The Biggest Loser (the TV show, not the Kings, yet). The always-reliable CelebrityNetWorth.com estimated his celebrity net worth at $350 million in 2010.
Where would the team play if he acquired them? Sacramento. He told CBS Sports, "Definitely, there's interest in acquiring the team and keeping it in Sacramento." Mastrov got his business degree from CSU-Hayward, about a 100 miles southwest of Sacramento. He, too, has been in contact with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.
Who is he? Greg Van Dusen, the "original vice president of the Sacramento Kings" according to this piece, and one of the people that "[h]elped negotiate the purchase in KC and the move to Sacramento," according to his own website.
Who has connected him to the Kings purchase? Rob McAllister, of KOVR 13 TV and Cowbell Kingdom.
Why's he so rich? He's not, really, but he has an investor group behind him that presumably values his experience in sports marketing and arena operations. It's easy to forget now that the Kings are a putrid basketball team, but Sacramento was once considered a market sufficiently passionate about the sport that it didn't matter that it was a "small-market" team. Van Dusen appears to have been a major part of the original marketing effort that got Kings fans hooked—Van Dusen claims that he "helped put together a unique business model that led to 12 consecutive years of sellout success for the Kings"—and they might not be in Sacramento in the first place without him.
Where would the team play if he acquired them? Oh, Sacramento, for sure. Van Dusen is practically a Sacramento lifer, and Tom Ziller described him as "a local buyer." He also has a plan to renovate the Kings arena, and his group of investors includes the original architect of Arco arena.
Has he been tweeting recently about the Kings' poor performance?
Who is he? Ron Burkle, billionare tycoon businessman, part-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins and "Bill Clinton's only business partner."
Why's he so rich? Burkle's lore is that he began as a bagboy at and then built a California supermarket empire—if anything that undersells his business accomplishments, which range from huge private equity holdings to investments in things like SoundCloud. But yes, he made his name in grocery stores, and is now worth $3.1 billion, according to Forbes.
Where would the team play if he acquired them? Sacramento, supposedly, though he could put them on his private island and have them play Calvinball, so who knows.
Was he ever extorted by the New York Post?
Like all good people, yes.
He's really going to buy the Kings? Haha, no. But look at this funny video of Kevin Johnson pretending he might:
Who is he?
Chris Hansen, the San Francisco area hedge-fund manager.
Not to be confused with:
The guy from To Catch a Predator.
Who has connected him to the Kings?
Everyone—just a few days it ago, it seemed like a done deal.
How much did he supposedly buy the team for two days ago?
Why's he so rich?
I think I mentioned he's a hedge-fund manager? His investor group is rich too, though: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, the Nordstrom brothers, and maybe even some members of the Maloof family, making the sale just a change in the majority shareholders.
Where would the team play if he acquired them?
Seattle. That's the whole point.
There you have it. Chris Hansen's handshake agreement with the Maloofs produced a gigantic mess, and now five different rich white guys will vie for the somehow desirable franchise. Our sympathies to all Kings' fans, for whom this must be a very trying time. We're rooting for Burkle!