The Sacramento Kings are calling out the Worldwide Leader in Sports. After finishing dead last in ESPN The Magazine’s annual rankings of 122 professional sports franchises, the Kings are using that slight in an advertising campaign to promote its lone appearance on the network this season.
The advertisements read “Hey ESPN. Nice Airball. New Era. New Swagger. The Best Fans Await You. 11.15.13.”. The campaign references the team’s nationally televised home game against the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 15.
“Under Vivek’s leadership, there is a lot happening in Sacramento: a new ambition, new investments in talent and arena infrastructure, and a new commitment to our wonderful community,” said Kings President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Granger in a press release yesterday. “We have the best fans in sports and we will work tirelessly until we give them the best franchise in the world.”
A year ago, the Kings finished second to last in ESPN’s annual “Ultimate Team Rankings”. In its inaugural edition in 2003, ESPN The Magazine ranked the Kings the fourth best team in all of North American sports. Since then, the Kings have seen a steady decline in the standings in ESPN’s rankings of the best and worst franchises in the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL. Following last year’s 121st place finish, Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty chronicled the team’s fall in the rankings, particularly of the franchise’s former owners the Maloofs, in the chart below.
“We love ESPN, but think they could have given us the benefit of foresight in their rankings,” continued Granger. “They know what we have going here. And, if they don’t, we’re going to show them when they visit us on November 15.”
It’s worth noting that if there’s hope for the Memphis Grizzlies, there’s certainly hope for the Kings. The Grizzlies were once the epitome of NBA futility with years of losing seasons following their addition to the league in 1995. Like the Kings, the Grizzlies also faced speculation of relocation even after settling down in Memphis following their brief stint in Vancouver. But now with improved leadership at the ownership and front office levels as well as an energized fanbase, the Grizzlies have become one of league’s most successful franchises, catapulting them to the top of ESPN The Magazine’s rankings this year.
So the question we pose to you this week is this: are you offended by the Kings’ 122nd place finish? If you asked me, I don’t think the rankings are a big deal. They serve no real purpose other than to drive conversation and never-ending debate. From a marketing standpoint, it’s actually beneficial to the Kings, presenting them the perfect opportunity to push ticket sales for their one ESPN-televised game this year. Yes, the list was compiled using data from last season and doesn’t take into account the extreme makeover the franchise is currently undergoing. But national praise won’t be coming the Kings’ way until Ranadivé and company start turning potential in production.