A lot of people outside of Sacramento seem to think Kings fans should give up. I mean there is a group up in Seattle who eats dinner off gold bars – how can Sacramento compete, right?
Darren Rovell, ESPN sports business reporter and business correspondent, doesn’t understand why there is a fight to save the Kings and says it all comes down to money and politics and the fans’ voice has no impact.
This ESPN article says Kings fans don’t understand and that their voice isn’t powerful enough.
To use George Maloof’s phrase, I say that’s hogwash.
The Sacramento Bee reported Wednesday that the NBA’s finance committee will likely review Sacramento’s bid to keep the Kings prior to the April Board of Governor’s meeting. In addition, the NBA’s relocation committee “will consider how well the Maloofs have managed the team and will assess ‘the support of the … team in the existing location by fans, telecasters, broadcasters and sponsors.’”
Why would the committee in charge of deciding the future of the franchise assess fan support if it didn’t matter?
One of the main reasons the league let the Kings leave Kansas City was because the fan base turned its back on the franchise. One of the main reasons the NBA let the Sonics move to Oklahoma City was because there was little political will to build a new arena in Seattle. Now, not everyone has Kevin Johnson as their mayor, but support from fans and citizens push politicians to take action and there wasn’t enough of that in Seattle at the time.
It is true that money is a deciding factor when a team is facing relocation though. And based on that, Sacramento is gearing up to roll out it’s own big-time equity investors thanks to Mayor Johnson, who has been everything and more for Kings fans in this fight. But beyond the money, without fan support there are no teams and there is no NBA, so the notion that the powers in numbers concept isn’t valid in these cases is false.
In the documentary Small Market, Big Heart, KHTK 1140 radio host Grant Napear says the best way fans can support the team is go to the games. This is very true. Last week, I wrote that filling seats can only help in the fight to keep the Kings. I still stand by that. Attending games means much more than giving money to the Maloofs at this point (something Kings fans say, understandably, detracts them from buying tickets).
For those who don’t want to pay to go to multiple games to close out this season, there is one game coming up I recommend attending. A little over a week from now on Feb. 9, the Kings take on the Jazz at Sleep Train Arena and the game has been dubbed “Here We Buy Night” after the grassroots movement herewebuy.org. The game is on News 10 and NBA TV and it is another chance for Kings fans to show their passion to a wide audience. There will be tailgating, chanting, signs and all that jazz. This type of passion has been on display in Sacramento since 1985 when the original players flew into that tiny airport in the fields of Natomas for the first time. It hasn’t left either, as illustrated by the fact that Sacramento has sold out 19 of 27 seasons.
So it’s OK if outsiders want to scoff at Sacramento, some of whom may have never been here. (Or if they have, it was when the Kings were challenging for an NBA championship a decade ago.) Sacramento is the underdog; the cow town. But despite the labels and the Maloofs, Sacramento continues to support the NBA. If many in the national media wanted to see an ambivalent crowd they should check out an Atlanta Hawks game.
This community deserves a better shake than what the national media and for that matter, the Maloof family, has given it. The 600-1,000 employees who work at the arena deserve better and the local businesses who have thrown their support behind sponsorships deserve better. Even if the pundits are right, which they aren’t, and fan support meant nothing, it still means something to the people of Sacramento and in the game of high-stakes professional sports, it should mean something to the NBA that Sacramento is still fighting. It seems like it means something to NBA Commissioner David Stern. Everything coming out of his mouth recently, and the fact that he met with Ron Burkle in New York, indicates Sacramento isn’t out of it.
So to Kings fans, I say leave no stones unturned on Feb. 9 and put all of your emotions out on the floor for the world to see. The national media and the NBA need to be reminded once again what this market is all about.
This post originally appeared on Bleed Black and Purple.