The Maloofs, Sacramento Kings and the final insult
It doesn’t seem so long ago that the Maloofs entered the Sacramento scene. Those first few seasons were a mix of magic on the floor combined with a little bit of Las Vegas hijinks. Remember those gold jerseys, anyone?
What’s happened between then and now is a cautionary tale for so many other communities throughout the country.
There were eight seasons of playoff-caliber basketball that hid the cracks. What followed were nearly six seasons of what now feels like intentional erosion.
In the right situation, a professional sports team transcends everything. It is the tie that binds father and son. That brings family and friends together to celebrate and mourn. That makes complete strangers hug, high-five and share a beer. It can aid in economic revival or symbolize the slow death of a city. It is culture and identity.
It is no different in Sacramento. There is a love affair between the city and the Kings. It has lasted for close to 28 years and with any luck, it will continue on for another 28 and more.
Something struck me so soundly when I read the words of Gavin Maloof last week when he announced the sale of the Kings to the Seattle-based ownership group led by Chris Hansen.
“We have always appreciated and treasured our ownership of the Kings and have had a great admiration for the fans and our team members,” he said in a prepared statement. “We would also like to thank Chris Hansen for his professionalism during our negotiation. Chris will be a great steward for the franchise.”
A great steward for the franchise?
You don’t pass a family heirloom to a complete stranger. You don’t tear the hearts out of thousands of fans and hundreds of employees. You don’t erase the Sacramento Kings from the NBA while pretending to be noble.
What an insult. The Sacramento Kings are part of the fabric of this community. You shouldn’t be able to make some arbitrary decision on something of this magnitude without even giving the city that has supported you a chance to be part of the conversation.
While someone may point out that the Kings were once property of Kansas City, I think those who remember that time would agree that they were an afterthought in a town with professional football, baseball and soccer. Maybe it’s hypocritical to make that leap, but Kansas City never supported the team at an NBA level and never put up a fight like the folks of Sacramento have.
Members of the national media have already written the story and have even had the nerve to tell Sacramento to give up. I say hooey. Scream, kick and fight like you have for the last 28 years.
Stewardship of the Sacramento Kings should not be for sale and it certainly shouldn’t be the Maloof family who gets to decide the fate of a loyal fanbase. The Kings were in Sacramento long before they strolled into town and without question, they should remain long after the Maloofs have taken up addresses elsewhere.
This isn’t about Seattle. Those folks learned how bad things can happen to good people. You trusted the stewardship of one of your own and he sold you off like a mocha frappuccino. Your market is too good to be ignored for long.
So I say stand tall Sacramento. Fight with everything you have. Ring those cowbells and continue to make noise like you have since 1985.