There has been so much speculation and rumor that it is very hard to understand just what exactly might happen over the next week or even months to the Sacramento Kings. We know that the NBA board of governors (BOG) will meet on April 14-15 to discuss, among other things, the Maloof’s possible relocation plans. We know that after the BOG meeting, the Maloofs have until April 18th to file for relocation, if they haven’t already and we just didn’t get the memo. If the Maloofs do in fact file for relocation, a committee, which may have already been formed (rumor), has up to 120 days to do fact finding and make a recommendation to the BOG, which then has up to 30 days to cast a vote. This is a really bare bones timeline with a few “if’s” and “up to’s” but I think it is something we can use as a guide.
I have my own personal beliefs on how I think this will all play out, which I am not ready to put out there, but my opinion isn’t what this post is about. This is about the biggest “what if” that is left out there. What if, whether because the dollar amount is way too big, or the Anaheim bond issuance gets blocked or the BOG votes it down – what if the Sacramento Kings are still the Sacramento Kings next season?
There are going to be hurt feelings. Hurt feelings on every front. And that is what I would like to address.
The Kings relocation story lends itself to analogies. While not necessarily my style, they should still be put out there. The most common analogy has the Maloof’s being compared to a spouse who has been sniffing around someone new while the old ball and chain is left waiting in the wings. Fancy gifts have been exchanged, maybe the relationship has even been consummated and things are turning a little awkward at the homestead. This isn’t my thinking, but let’s just say this type of thinking is pretty common in this particular situation.
Plenty of fans have already closed their hearts and minds to the unthinkable – what if that new fling goes away and the Maloof family has to walk back in the front door of Arco Arena (my story, I get to call it what I want) with hat in hand?
Let me tell you how I will deal with this situation. You can do what you like.
I was 10 years old when the team moved to Sacramento. Admittedly, I had grown up idolizing one of the most amazing, charismatic athletes of all time in Magic Johnson. That’s right people, Zach Harper is a dirty T-Wolves fan and James Ham used to be a Lakers fan – get over it because that’s exactly what I did. I am a local kid. I whole heartedly follow the A’s, the 49ers and the Sacramento Kings. Funny thing happens when you are a sports fan, multi-million dollar businesses become your team and you live and die with them from one season to the next. Whether it’s Joe Montana or Steve Young at QB, Rickey Henderson or Luis Polonia in the outfield, Bonzi Wells or Lionel Simmons playing small forward, you become a fan of a team. Players come and go. They get traded, they retire, they – God forbid, die – you are still a fan.
My first jersey was a #88 Freddie Solomon jersey. I wore it until the numbers cracked and fell off. I can tell you this, Eddie DeBartolo was a great owner and when he handed the team over to his sister, things changed. I can also tell you that during my lifetime, Charley Finley, Walter Haas, Steve Schott and Ken Hoffman owned the Oakland A’s before current owner, Lew Wolf, and his group took over the A’s in 2005. All of these owners in my 35 years of living and I haven’t even talked about the Sacramento Kings’ ownership carousel.
So let me get to my point.
If you are a Kings fan, it doesn’t matter if Bobby Jackson is coming off the bench or if you are wearing baby blue or black and purple. Things change. Players change, logos change, stadiums change and yes, even owners change. If things don’t work out in Anaheim and the Kings are still the Kings, I thank my lucky stars that my team is still here in Sacramento. We cheer for a team people, a team we call our own. We put jerseys on our kids that say Richmond or Webber or Evans. We cheer along with owners, us in row P and them right next to the court, but right alongside them in spirit. But strangely enough, I have never cheered for or against an owner. I’ve never turned on a telecast to watch them do business or to even watch them jump up and down on the sidelines. Eddie Debartolo’s 49ers won four Super Bowls, he is one of the greatest owners in sports history and still, I have never once seen an Eddie D jersey hanging in the team store or stumbled across his football card.
There are good owners, bad owners, indifferent owners – hell, I could make the case that Joe and Gavin Maloof have been all of these things during their 12+ years in Sacramento. I don’t care that they have put a less than stellar product on the floor or that they have the lowest payroll in the NBA. I don’t care if the Palms is turning a profit or if they are investing in a 3-D movie company, that is none of my business. If I can handle 17-win seasons, the drafting of Joe Klein and Pervis Ellison, Chris Webber blowing out his knee, Robert Horry, Bobby Hurley getting in an accident or Ricky Berry committing suicide, I can live with Joe and Gavin Maloof not wanting to be here. They are just owners, and like players, they come and they go.
So before getting all hurt that we were someone’s second choice or if they really want to be here, ask yourself this, did you ever choose Joe and Gavin Maloof? Do you cheer for them? Do you follow their stats or wear their jerseys? The answer is no, we are Kings fans and if they are here next season, I don’t care what they call the stadium or how many games they win, I will cheer on the Sacramento Kings, because they are my team.