Challenges Await a SuperSonics Reboot in Seattle

Gerald McDaniel, a Sacramento Kings fan since childhood, holds a sign bemoaning the team's ownership during a Jan. 10 game at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif. Photograph by Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee/MCT via Getty Images

Next season, the Sacramento Kings could very well be rechristened the Seattle SuperSonics. The Maloof family, owners of the Kings, struck a deal last weekend to offload the franchise for $525 million to a group of investors led by Seattle-based hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer. The sale, which is subject to NBA approval and a possible counteroffer, represents a true rarity in professional sports: the prodigal franchise, which includes the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets (who left for Phoenix after the 1995 season, but returned after local investors acquired the struggling Atlanta Thrashers in 2011) and the NFL’s Oakland Raiders (who shifted nearly 400 miles to Los Angeles in 1982, but returned to Oakland in 1995).

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