The Sacramento Kings are on the verge of packing up and shipping out as its ownership group contemplates a move to Anaheim. The fans are organizing a "Here We Stay" campaign and the Maloof brothers, owners of the Kings, are quietly pushing to take the team away. The reason? The city was unable to secure funding for a new arena.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? The only major difference when comparing the Kings to the Seattle Sonics, is the change of ownership. Clay Bennett bought the Sonics from Howard Schultz and had every intention of returning to Oklahoma City with a new NBA team in tow. With the Kings, the ownership team is the same, but the issues, and the saga of relocation, follow the same path as the Sonics.
I've watched Tom Ziller, an excellent writer and die-hard Kings' fan, go through the same pains we did in Seattle. Ziller wrote an impassioned letter to the Maloof brothers asking them to reconsider -- to stay in Sacramento where the fanbase loves its team.
I see the pain on your faces during every heartbreaking loss, and I see the same thing among the thousands of fans inside ARCO Arena, and I know tens of thousands of fans watching at bars and home are feeling the exact same emotions. I know I do. Sign Lady does. Sacramento is rare in its earnest passion, and it's only possible because we're all in it together, every night. Without fans screaming their heads off, bodies rising and fall with each shot, it's not going to be as special for you. If you turn around from your courtside seats on the next great Tyreke Evans buzzer beater, and you see a crowd with no history with the Kings, with no passion for the team or the players or the game, how is that going to make you feel?
Watching another fanbase worry about relocation brings up memories of our own past. Sure, the Kings are keeping the same ownership group and moving within the same state, but the team is being ripped away from the city where its history was forged. And it's not fair.
Ziller and his crew at Sactown Royalty have been covering the relocation story tirelessly since talk began to ramp up again, with an April deadline now looming. It's like watching the Sonics' saga unfold again. This is why I hate talk of having a team relocate to Seattle. I know it's the only way, but stealing a team from its city, in the same fashion the Sonics were taken from us, doesn't seem right.
For the sake of Kings' fans, I hope the Maloof's reconsider. We've been there, we've seen it and we feel the pain. It's a terrible experience that sticks with the city. It's also why I continue to loathe the NBA and David Stern years after the fact.
Best of luck, Sacramento fans. We understand.