A cautionary tale is playing out in real time. It is the story of a community fighting to keep its team and another fighting to replace one that was stolen. While we watch with bated breath as news comes fast and furious, there is a feeling of darkness that is being ignored.
This is a dance macabre.
Death for one city is imminent. It is hanging in the air like mustard gas, just waiting to find the victim without a mask.
Be it Seattle or Sacramento, a negative outcome for either city will sting. Whether it is a fresh wound or reopening an old one, pain is coming for someone.
This isn’t the way this story was supposed to play out. Sacramento has already fought their way through the stench of relocation before, only to be betrayed again. They did everything the NBA asked, including securing an arena plan that the league vetted as its own. It was a home run. The owners of the Kings celebrated at halfcourt with mayor Kevin Johnson. It was an underdog story and it was all for not. The Maloofs betrayed the city that supported their product for more than a decade. But rest assured, this is the final betrayal.
The same goes for Seattle. They understand this dance with NBA mortality better than anyone. They have staked their claim to another city’s property because that’s their only choice. Be it Clay Bennett or poor representation at city hall, Seattle was robbed of the Sonics. After 41 years of support, the NBA turned its back on a proud city and now they are ready to get back in the game.
If there is one reason to celebrate, the Maloofs will not survive this final assault. They will take their 30 pieces of silver and move on to the next unsuspecting business partner. Sacramento and the NBA will breathe easier knowing they are gone. Seattle will be better for never knowing them. They are what is wrong with professional sports and while they are not alone in the annals of horrible owners, they clearly are a candidate for most dishonest.
While there are plenty of people who believe they know how this story will end, they are mistaken. There will be more zigs and zags before the final bill is paid. There will be a day of reckoning for everyone involved, but that day is not today or tomorrow.
So proceed with caution. Grandstanding, celebrating and gloating are fools errands. This story is not over for anyone. Not yet. There are still bullets in the gun of both prospective winners. And trust me, there are still two groups standing tall, regardless of what you read in the national fish wrap.
Please keep in mind that there are real people involved in this story. There are stadium workers and construction jobs that will provide an economic boom for either city in this down economy. There are people who get in their cars and travel to Sleep Train Arena everyday for a paycheck that might soon be looking for work and plenty more that dream of landing a job at KeyArena.
Be respectful of the process. Understand that someone is going away scarred. And hope that it isn’t your city and your fanbase.
For Seattle, you know the pain of losing a team more than anyone. For Sacramento, you have been incredibly brave in the face of so much adversity.
It is time to let this play out. It is time to pull for your guy, be it Chris Hansen or Kevin Johnson. It is time to pray that the NBA comes to its senses and grants expansion to Seattle, so these two amazing groups of fans can both celebrate being NBA cities.