What the Sacramento Kings Mean to This Loyal Fan

Sim RissoFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2013

We should all be grateful for Major Kevin Johnson's resolve in keeping the Kings in Sacramento.
We should all be grateful for Major Kevin Johnson's resolve in keeping the Kings in Sacramento.USA TODAY Sports

So now that the Kings are all but guaranteed to remain in the state capital, there couldn't be a better time to examine what they mean to their fans (myself included) and the community.

The NBA's relocation committee has voted unanimously to reject a move that would have uprooted the Sacramento Kings and moved them to Seattle.

The league's Board of Governors, which has the final say on the matter and is comprised of the 30 franchise owners, isn't expected to officially vote until May 13th. In that sense, the decision to keep the team in Sacramento isn't yet official.

Yet Kings fans can rest assured that the team isn't going anywhere. The league would need 23 of 30 owners to approve the relocation. And with the relocation committee, which features seven team owners, voting unanimously to reject the move, that would mean at least one of those owners would have to change their vote, unless zero of the remaining 23 owners oppose the relocation.

Furthermore, all indications, such as this one from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!, are that the Board of Governors will honor the relocation and finance committee's decision, meaning the Kings will stay in Sacramento. 

Another potential sticking point is that the Maloofs, the team's current owners, might refuse to sell the team to the Sacramento ownership group now that their deal with the Hansen-Ballmer group has fallen through. 

But, as Darren Rovell of ESPN points out, the NBA likely wouldn't have rejected the relocation to  Seattle unless it had assurances that the Maloofs were willing to sell the team to Sacramento's ownership group.

The first thing to point out is that this is much bigger than simply an NBA franchise to myself and to my community. The Kings are our identity. They're what brings everyone together.

Not that sports franchises aren't important in other communities—they are. But unlike the vast majority of cities with a major professional sports team, the Kings are all we've got. There is no NFL, NHL or MLB team in Sacramento. For us, it's the Kings or bust.

Unfortunately, the threat of losing our Kings is something we've dealt with on a seemingly ongoing basis for the past few years. That prospect is almost too much to bear. It becomes even more daunting when one considers the unwavering support of the fanbase.

There are a lot of things you can say about Kings fans; one thing you can't say is we're not loyal. Despite the Kings fielding a subpar product for the majority of their stay in Sacramento, we've managed to come out in droves.

Even with the very real potential of losing our team, we continued to support it in spirit and with our pocketbooks.

When the national climate towards our chances of keeping the Kings in Sacramento changed following the announced sale to the Hansen-Ballmer group, we didn't give in. It would have been very easy to accept the sale and relocation as a fait accompli, but we didn't. That speaks to the resiliency of this community and what the Kings mean to us.

Jason Ross, who works for the Kings as a broadcaster, put it well when likening our keeping the Kings to a miracle. But even though we knew it would take a miracle, we still didn't lose faith.

For me, hearing the news that the Kings are staying is something I'll never forget. It's one of those moments that transcends time and space. There are only a handful of events in my lifetime where I can tell you exactly where I was at when I heard the news, and finding out the team is staying in Sacramento is certainly one of them.

But even more than my jubilation for the Kings staying is my pride in this community. Part of that is related to our resiliency and ability to keep fighting—even against extremely long odds. However, it's also about our ability to come together.

Keeping the Kings in town is a major accomplishment by itself. It's even more astounding when you consider the time line and all that had to come together.

To give some perspective, it was announced on Jan. 21 that the Maloofs had a "binding agreement" with the Hansen-Ballmer group to sell the team. Now, just a little over three months later, look at how far we've come.

Our mayor, Kevin Johnson, to whom we should all be eternally grateful, was able to organize a viable ownership group. Over 11,000 Kings fans pledged to purchase season tickets for the team. The Sacramento City Council, led by city manager John Shirey, came up with a workable plan to build an arena, including $258 million in public money.

Then the ownership group, the fan support and the arena plan were combined into one package to convince the NBA not to move the Kings. And we accomplished all of this in a little over three months. People don't come together and accomplish so much in so little time unless they're steadfast behind a cause. The Kings are our cause.

So while we all may come from different ethnic, financial and religious backgrounds, the Sacramento Kings are the one thing that brings us together.

The Kings are our rallying cry, our unifying force. And most importantly, it sure looks like the Kings are here to stay.


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