Every morning, the fine folks at Sports Radio Interviews sift through the a.m. drive-time chatter to bring you the best interviews with coaches, players, and personalities across the sports landscape. Today: The Reign Man says business is business.
Shawn Kemp joined KJR in Seattle with Dave "Softy" Mahler to discuss if he believes the deal to bring the Sacramento franchise to Seattle will get done, having sympathy for the people of Sacramento, his involvement with Chris Hansen and his group who have agreed to purchase the majority stake in the franchise, big names that Hansen might bring in if the deal works out and if he's interested in playing a role in it all.
Where are your emotions at with this news about the Sacramento Kings coming to Seattle?
"I think that we still have our fingers crossed. I think it's going to happen. But also, we're dealing with the NBA … so it's not going to be an easy thing at all. … I think what you see in them trying to control certain parts of interest and things like that now, I think we can honestly say that we're close to the end of this. I'm hoping that Chris [Hansen] can pull this off and get it finalized through the NBA. But c'mon man, once the owners start agreeing to certain things like that, then you also know that there's a deal going on."
What do you think is going through Kevin Johnson's mind?
"First of all, I think it's what any of us, as competitors, would do. As we saw the Sonics go through this a few years ago, lose their team, and the fans were hurting. … You'll probably see the same thing in Sacramento. He's not trying to have that on his record, so he's going to try to do everything possible to get a deal done and try to change some things. But I just think it's a little bit too late."
How would you respond to a Sacramento fan who might call some Sonics fans hypocrites?
"I think that it's definitely a big difference. Our team was taken from us, kind of behind our backs. We didn't know how serious the sale and purchase of the team was going. For our sake, I think we've been known to go out here and say we'd look at any team in the NBA. … We were wanting someone to look at any team for a purchase and a sale, and we didn't hide those feelings. So I think with those feelings, we have the right to go out and purchase a team if we can get that deal done. But also, I think we should have sympathy for some of the Sacramento Kings fans, because they have some good fans in that area. We just have bigger and better fans in this northwest area."
How much contact have you had with Hansen?
"I've talked to Chris occasionally. We've talked about things. I've been in contact with both groups, but not from a personal standpoint, only from a business point, to see what's going to happen. But I do think this is something they pursued months ago, and they're just so serious about it, that's why they've been so quiet about it. I always say, ‘When things are quiet, you know something is going on.'"
On rumors that have come up involving Phil Jackson, Larry Bird and other big names potentially getting involved with the organization:
"Well, I can honestly tell you this, and I can say this on Chris' behalf, that he hasn't made any of those decisions yet, but I can tell you this: He's going to look at the very best the NBA has to offer. That's what he's going to try to give Seattle fans."
Do you think Phil Jackson wants to coach again?
"I think if there's one thing he likes to be around, it's basketball. I don't know if he necessarily wants to coach … but I know he enjoys the game of basketball and being around it. And he has a great mind for basketball, too. Guys like that, any of those guys, we'd take any of those guys in this area. … I just think, right now, we keep our fingers crossed and just hope for the best."
Have you discussed perhaps having a role in this?
"Yeah, I mean, me and Gary have talked about it and I've talked about it with other players. … We'll see, in the future, if something gets worked out. But I truly mean this, I'm happy, not just for kids in this area, but I'm happy for my boys in this area, so they can get a chance to go to the game and see some of these guys personally. … For right now, I'm just happy to hear about basketball."
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