Sports Opinion: Long live the Kings
On Monday, the Maloof brothers decided to keep the Kings in Sacramento for at least one more year. In doing so, they've presented a challenge to the city of Sacramento and their mayor, three-time NBA all-star, Kevin Johnson. The challenge is for Johnson to devise a plan to construct a brand new arena for the Kings. If he can't by this time next year Sacramento will have to wave goodbye to the only major sports team it's ever known.
From there, the Maloofs would in all likelihood uproot the Kings, strap them on their backs, and with no remorse head straight down the 5 to join the Clippers and Lakers here in southern California. They also haven't ruled out relocating to the bright lights of Las Vegas.
Sacramento has at the very least one more year, however, to convince the Maloof brothers that a new Arena is not only feasible, but financially justified.
The Maloofs had one foot out the door, if not both, before they were forced to reconsider when Kevin Johnson and the Sacramento business community arrived at their front lawn with wheelbarrows of cash.
Mayor Johnson was able to muster up $10 million from new corporate sponsorships for the Kings next season and the Maloofs, whose only motivation for relocating was money, were now willing to listen.
Once they did, they realized how ill fated a move this would have been with Sacramento, David Stern, and reportedly most of their fellow owners against the move. The lobbying to keep the Kings in Sacramento was unprecedented, and rightfully so.
Kings fans have continually supported their team regardless of how they played. Charles Barkley said of Kings fans, "they have the best fans in the NBA, I've always said that. Even when the team sucked, they were there every night."
This unfortunate development is nothing new to the Northwest, however, three years ago Seattle basketball fans could do nothing but watch as the Sonics were taken from them and subsequently shipped to Oklahoma City. This after Seattle failed to build a new arena for the Sonics.
Oklahoma City now houses one of the best young basketball teams in the NBA and has what is considered the most rabid fan base in the league. Good for Oklahoma City, but Seattle fans fell victim to one of the biggest injustices in professional sports history.
There are similarities between the 2008 Sonics and the 2011 Kings. In 2008, the Sonics were developing a lottery pick named Kevin Durant and for the 2011 Kings, that lottery pick is Tyreke Evans.
Soon, the Oklahoma City Thunder's will win a championship with Durant and Seattle fans can do nothing but watch helplessly as that day inevitably comes. The Maloofs may put into motion that same nauseating reaction for Kings fans. With budding lottery picks in Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, and whomever they choose in the upcoming draft, the Kings have an extremely bright future, but whether that future is in Sacramento remains to be seen.
The difference between the Seattle Sonics debacle and this postponed one is that in moving to Oklahoma City, a new market was being tapped. If the Kings were to move to Anaheim, the Maloofs would be playing to a market that's been tapped twice over.
Phil Jackson, legendary head coach of the Lakers, said of the possible move, "what other metropolitan area has three teams in it? It's ridiculous to put another franchise in this market. It just doesn't make sense to do that."
The Kings enjoyed their most successful years with Chris Webber dominating in the post, and he's trying his best to ensure the Kings remain in Sacramento not only for the 2011-12 season, but also for years to come.
Webber said, "I can't imagine what Sacramento would be like without basketball. I'm doing everything I can to keep the team there. I won't have a basketball home if Sacramento doesn't have a team. I don't want to lose a team in Sacramento."
This year, he won't. Next year though, if the Kings don't have a new arena, he may be forced to watch as the former Rochester Royals, who became the Cincinnati Royals, who became the Kansas City-Omaha Kings, who became the Kansas City Kings, who for 21 years called Sacramento home, become the Anaheim Royals.