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If Kevin Johnson had been San Francisco’s mayor, would the 49ers have bailed?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Different situation, sure. But then again you have to wonder. You also have to hand it to Sacramento’s mayor, who against seemingly insurmountable odds led the charge to fight off the Maloof brothers, owners of the Sacramento Kings, to send the team elsewhere. The earnest money from the Maloofs’ sale to a group that will keep the Kings in Sactown was wired yesterday. The Maloofs have gone poof, with their money-wringing efforts to move the team to Anaheim, Seattle and even Virginia kaput. Downtown Sacto will get a new arena.

Johnson, himself a former Kings player, is a civic hero in the state capital. Quite a contrast to the impotence in San Francisco on such matters, with Mayor Ed Lee and former mayor Gavin Newsom able to do little more than wave bye-bye to the 49ers. In Lee’s case, he’s attempting to deflect lost mojo by helping to poach the Warriors from Oakland and build an arena over the bay. He’s playing Seattle to Oakland’s Sacramento in a test of wills between two “isms”—the city’s vaunted environmentalism and old-fashioned provincialism.

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