Carmichael Dave shakes the hand of a Sacramento Kings fan at the last game of the season. (Photo: Steven Chea)

Today is your day, Sacramento.

You may have heard, but there is a rally scheduled at Cesar Chavez Park this evening from 5-9 pm.  Kings past and present, members of the new ownership group and political dignitaries will all be in attendance.

Celebrate, party, be merry and enjoy.  Despite skepticism and doubt from naysayers around the country, you overcame the odds and kept your Sacramento Kings.

“You know, this is the moment that everything changes in Sacramento,” new Kings co-owner Mark Friedman said at last week’s gathering at city hall.  ”For so long, we’ve been ‘this close’, ‘not quite’,  ’if we just did a little bit more’.  But today we did it.  We made it.  We not only proved to ourselves, but we proved to the entire world that Sacramento is a city that can.”

You are champions today.  But just like every team that wins a championship, questions will arise for next year’s title defense.  Will complacency sink in?  Can they do it again?  Everyone is now watching what Sacramento does next.  Whether or not you can truly validate your victory.

There are still cynics and pessimists out there questioning the city’s win.  ”In the long run, Seattle would have been a better business move for the NBA,” they say.  ”Sacramento and small markets will continue to be a drain on the league” they quip.  Though their voices are muted today, that doesn’t mean they won’t come back to gloat if Sacramento doesn’t succeed.

“We’ve got to make sure that after today we do our part to make sure the NBA knows their vote was the right vote for our community in Sacramento,” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson last Friday.

Allen Warren, Johnson’s colleague on the council, reminded Sacramento that there’s still work to be done.  A new arena isn’t scheduled to open until October 2016 and it’s sure to face its fair share of opponents in the process.  Though uncertainty no longer surrounds the Kings’ future in Sacramento, the fighting spirt that’s kept them here in the first place can’t fade away now.

“There are a lot of things that need attention here in this city and let’s let this be the catalyst,” Warren said last week. “Let’s continue to build.”

Throughout this whole ordeal, Johnson preached that this effort to keep the Kings was “bigger than basketball” and the unity fans displayed over the last three years epitomized that statement.  Despite differences in opinions and beliefs, a community came together for the sake of one common goal.

“It’s not just about basketball,” West Sacramento Mayor Chris Cabaldon said. ”It’s not even just about Disney on Ice and it’s not even just about the center.  It is about the downtown.  It is about the midtown.  It is about giving us the waterfront that this region so richly deserves.

“That’s what this is all about – making Sacramento one of the greatest places to live, work and play in the entire world,” Cabaldon concluded.  ”And it starts here.”

From fans to team employees, the last three years have been taxing on all the parties involved.  But these last three years have also brought out the best in Sacramento.  Relationships were made, friendships were formed and bonds were strengthened.

All because of a basketball team.

Two years ago when I joined Cowbell Kingdom, after the Anaheim chapter of this three-year saga, I wrote that Sacramento had decided it was more than a pitstop.  Well, the time to turn that idea into reality is now.

“This is such a defining moment for our community,” Johnson said.  ”It is transformative.  This community that we know and love will never be same because of what transpired over the last year.”

Celebrate today, Sacramento.  But tomorrow, seize it.

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