Sunday Musings: Sacramento’s wild Kings ride enters the final loop

Updated: 1:21 PM PT

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It is difficult to describe what the last two years have been like in Sacramento. In short, it has been a wild ride.

Wild.

While there are plenty of comparisons that can be made, I still like to contrast this story to a roller coaster ride. You can hear the clicking of the tracks as the cart climbs up the sharp incline. Those clicks come in the form of four-point plans and checklists that slowly but surely get checked off.

During these climbs, you can always see the bright blue sky ahead, like ascending to the heavens.

Click.  Click.  Click.

And just when you think you are going to keep rising, the bottom falls out and the story plunges down towards the Earth in a fiery mass. You can hear the screams and cries of Sacramento Kings fans, many of which have their eyes closed shut. It is horrifying and scary and feels all too unnecessary.

At the end of the drop, there are always a handful of switchbacks that throw you back and forth against the walls of the little cart that is Sacramento. Your head is rattled by the abrupt shifts and you barely have time to realize the whiteness of your knuckles while clinging to the handlebars that are the media outlets feeding you information.

And then another drop, a sharp climb up, a drop, followed by another four-point plan to the heavens.

While the motion of the roller coaster captures the storyline, there is another reason why it is such an apt analogy. When it’s over, all of us get right back in line and wait our turn to get back on again.

It is painful, joyous, a rush and a downer. It is the story of the Kings’ fanbase and this time, tickets have been sold to the good folks of Seattle as well.

This is it. This is the last ride of what has become a nightmarish trip. After this next six-week run, the carnival of the NBA is going to tear this thing down and retire it for the unforeseeable future, leaving either Sacramento or Seattle brokenhearted.

What’s worse is that we don’t know how this final ride ends. After hopping on the same coaster again and again, someone has made a secret finish line and they aren’t revealing it to the public.

There are only two options now. There is either a brand new arena in Sacramento’s Downtown Plaza or the cart comes off its tracks and flies off into oblivion, landing squarely in the Pacific Northwest.

If you have been following the national narrative, the tracks lead north. If you watched Kevin Johnson‘s State of the City address, then this ride ends with a new castle for the Kings.

What do we know? Everything? Nothing?

The Seattle group has already cleared dates in November at Key Arena for a possible Sonics return. They think they have the deal in place to build a new arena in SoDo and relocate DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas and the rest of the Kings to the Emerald City. Their confidence has never wavered.

The same can be said of the mayor . He didn’t have the look of a politician on Thursday.  Rather, he had the look of a proud dad watching his children open his carefully picked gifts on Christmas Day. It wasn’t an unveiling as much as it was a wink, a nod and an “I’ve got this”.

So how does this coaster end? Who knows, but at least we have a when. April 18-19 are the NBA Board of Governors’ meetings in New York. It will be a show of epic proportions, just like last year’s presidential election. Seattle needs a basic majority to get approval for the Hansen-Ballmer group to relocate the team, but a 75-percent vote for transfer of ownership.

That means Johnson needs eight owners to say no to the sale. You can see the map now, flashing up the possibilities with insiders making predictions on which way owners will vote in every NBA city from Los Angeles to New York.

This isn’t the way the league wants this to play out, but it is the reality of the situation. So hold on to your hats, keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle. We have one more ride to go on and this time, the lights have been shut off.

We are riding blind and when the lights flick back on, either the Sacramento Kings or the Seattle SuperSonics will be sitting at the finish line.

Editor’s note: Information regarding approval of relocation and transfer information has been adjusted.

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About: James Ham

James Ham provides coverage through news analysis and in-depth interviews with Kings players and staff. James is also one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart". James graduated UC Davis with a degree in history and is happily married with two children.