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NBA Kings Lawsuit Headed to Court

SACRAMENTO (CN) - Former NBA Commissioner David Stern is expected to be called to testify in a lawsuit from a lobbyist who claims Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive cut him out of the sale of the team.

In a lawsuit in San Mateo County Court, Darius Anderson said his "likely list" of witnesses could include Sacramento Mayor and former NBA guard Kevin Johnson, Stern and other NBA officials.

Anderson sued Ranadive and 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov on Dec. 22, 2014, claiming the billionaires cut him out of the $535 million Sacramento Kings sale that Anderson said he helped bargain and arrange.

He claims that Ranadive and Mastrov reneged on a deal to include him in the ownership group.

Anderson says he raised more than $1 million from Sacramento-area investors in the effort to buy the Kings from the Maloof brothers, who had a deal in place to sell the Kings to a Seattle ownership group.

Anderson claims he also invested $250,000 in a $21 million purchase of a downtown Sacramento mall. He said he and his partners eventually sold the downtown property to Ranadive for $36 million and the Kings and the city are building an entertainment and sports complex there.

Sacramento Kings officials called the lawsuit frivolous and said it would be dismissed.

"The lawsuit is disappointing, especially because Mr. Anderson and his partners made a considerable profit on the final sale of the downtown plaza," the statement says.

The partnership dispute dates back to 2011, when, Anderson says, he put together a group led by Southern California investor Ron Burkle, to buy the Kings and keep them in Sacramento.

Burkle was to be the lead investor but backed out shortly before the sale in 2013 due to a conflict of interest, the complaint states. Once Burkle was out of the picture, Anderson says, Ranadive and Mastrov stopped communicating with Anderson.

"Mr. Mastrov and Mr. Ranadive now apparently claim that Mr. Anderson was only involved in a separate transaction to acquire the real estate to build an arena," Anderson said in the 1-page lawsuit. "To the contrary, well after the terms of the real estate transaction had been resolved, Mr. Mastrov told Mr. Anderson not to worry because he and Mr. Ranadive were working on papering the terms of Mr. Anderson's ownership of the team."

Anderson's attorneys filed a motion to designate the case as complex, citing extensive third-party information and the "high stakes" of a team valued at more than $800 million - up from the $550 million cited in the December complaint.

Anderson seeks an accounting, damages and punitive damages for breach of partnership, breach of joint venture, breach of fiduciary duty and intentional misrepresentation.

He is represented by Joshua Lerner, with Durie & Tangri, of San Francisco.

The next court hearing is scheduled for March 17.

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