Kings for a day

May 7, 2002 8:24 AM

Sacramento owner George Maloof will assume a low profile as the Kings deal with their Cuban Missile Crisis against the Dallas Mavericks.

"Mark (Cuban) and I are friends and have a lot in common," the Palms owner said of the flamboyant boss of the Mavericks as the NBA’s two most exciting offenses go toe to toe in the best of seven Western Conference semifinals. "He likes to create challenges. It should be fun."

George Maloof

The Kings are a $1.45 favorite to win the series and were a four-point favorite to capture Game 1 this past Saturday at Arco Arena. If the series goes seven, Sacramento will play four times at Arco.

"I think the home court advantage will be a big edge for us, even though Dallas plays well on the road," said Maloof, who attended both games at Utah where the Kings took a hard-fought best of five series against Jazz in four games.

The Las Vegas casino mogul said he was relieved to see the Jazz series end and believes a lot of the pressure has been lifted from the Kings.

"We were sweating it out," he said. "Sacramento and Utah have the two wildest crowds in the NBA. People expected us to blow the Jazz out in the first two games at home and it didn’t happen. We much prefer the up-tempo style that Dallas plays and I can tell you we are very focused."

While the quotable comments around the country are sure to come from the volatile Cuban, his counterpart is just as confident in the outcome.

"We expect to win, no question," Maloof said. "It comes down to whether Chris (Webber) has a good series. I think he will and I believe we will shoot the ball much better than we did against Utah."

The situation with Webber is different than a year ago, thanks to a new seven-year contract the former Michigan standout signed with the Kings during the off-season when rumors ran rampant that he was leaving Sacramento.

"The seven year deal shows that Chris is committed to playing and living in Sacramento," he said. I have all the confidence in the world in Chris and he will be a part of this team for years to come."

The same holds true for head coach Rick Adelman and general manager Geoff Petrie, win or lose.

"One of our biggest strengths is our team play and support," said Maloof who, along with Adelman and Petrie, has turned the Kings from perennial loser to one of the NBA’s elite. Geoff has done a great job in signing players. Rick is a wonderful coach. Nobody’s leaving."

Maloof shrugged off comments that the Kings didn’t treat Utah seriously.

"Our team is close and likes to have fun," he said. "When egos are involved, you lose."

It’s tough to run a successful Las Vegas casino/resort and an NBA franchise, but Maloof said he would probably take a trip to Dallas."

"You need a balance," he said. "But, we’ll have one heck of a victory party at the Palms if we win the championship."



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