More Than A Pitstop
Some of you may know me from my work at SLAM Online and SB Nation Bay Area. Or maybe you follow me on Twitter. But with the events that unfolded over the past few weeks, I reached out to the crew here at Cowbell Kingdom to help cover what should be the most fascinating year of Kings basketball since the 2005-06 season. I’d like to thank James Ham and Zach Harper for letting me jump on board.
Like Zach, I’m not a Kings fan. If you’ve read my work at SLAM or SB Nation, you can expect to hear a mostly detached perspective on the team and efforts to build a new arena.
This post, however, is an exception. I rarely write opinion pieces. In fact, this may be the only time you see me explicitly voice my view here at Cowbell Kingdom. But after watching this relocation saga develop over the last four months, I thought it’d be fine to break character just one time.
I was wrong.
Not about the Kings chances of staying, because we all were. But of Sacramento’s desire to keep them.
And could you really blame me for doubting our state capital? The mood reeked of defeat following Commissioner David Stern’s confirmation of the Anaheim rumors after All-Star Weekend. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson sounded heartbroken and like a scorned-lover looking for answers, trying to understand why he was getting dumped.
“I just think in my opinion Sacramento deserves better than this,” said Johnson, who was upset to learn of the Maloof’s request to extend the first relocation filing deadline via Google Alert back in February.
After finding out why the Maloofs were ending the Kings’ 26-year marriage with Sacramento, he seemed resigned to his hometown’s tragic fate. Johnson seemed to concede that he would forever be remembered as the hoops-star-turned-mayor, who lost the Kings under his watch.
But again, I was wrong. Amazingly, Johnson did what a politician, a legislator, a mayor is supposed to do.
He took action and led.
And the community? To my surprise, they followed him into battle.
In the three years that I’ve called this region home, it’s seemed to have been plagued with an overwhelming sense of mediocrity. That Sacramento and its surrounding suburbs were just fine with the status quo. That people and the community-at-large were essentially OK with what seemed to be a 1960s mentality in a 21st century world.
And such a shame too, because of the many wonderful people in and from this town doing great things. Like David Garibaldi, a renowned artist with a talent for speed painting portraits such as this:
Yeah, he’s from here.
Heck even Nicholas Sparks, the guy who wrote The Notebook, called Sacramento home at one point (fellas, don’t penalize me for the reference; ladies, I think you appreciated that).
This region’s greatest strength has always been perhaps its biggest weakness. Its close proximity to Lake Tahoe (Northern California and Nevada’s ski and snowboard capital) and San Francisco (Northern California’s urban center). Ask any Sacramentan, Rosevillian, Rocklinian, Davisite, etc. to tell you where they’re from and I guarantee a description includes the region’s central location to Northern California’s main attractions.
But somewhere in this whole break-up process, this region decided it no longer was going to be just a pitstop to Tahoe and the Bay Area. Through its fighting spirit demonstrated by the community and its leaders, Sacramento and the cities surrounding it showed their true colors.
Just so happens they’re white, black and a purple.