A City Scorned…
By Robin Swanson
I have it on good authority that the Sacramento Kings organization has already filed a letter with the NBA commissioner’s office requesting a move to Anaheim. They want to leave us. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye. Though right now this will be treated by many as just another “rumor,” the fact is, the Kings have been trying to leave us for years – they’ve had flirtations with Las Vegas, San Jose, and Kansas City to mention a few, and now they are smitten with Anaheim. Sports writers have written about their exit possibilities, and there is increasing interest in Orange County about the new courtship – but the Maloofs have yet to confess that they’ve filed the paperwork.
This time, instead of clinging onto the Kings like a bad cliché of a scorned love, maybe it’s time to let them go, once and for all. Like a bad boyfriend who never treated us right, perhaps it’s time to lose their number and donate their left-behind belongings to charity, so we can regain our self-respect.
I’m reminded of the once-popular book “He’s Just Not that into You.” The fact is, the Sacramento Kings and their Vegas/L.A.-based M-“aloof” owners have never been “that into” Sacramento as a city. Now, like any good break-up, we can reminisce about the good times: 8-9 years ago there was a waiting list for season tickets, every seat at Arco Arena was filled and Sacramento was known for producing the “best fans in the NBA.” And of course, the Kings’ owners loved us – we were a golden goose and didn’t flinch at dropping $20 for a beer and some nachos.
But tough economic times, a housing market gone terribly awry and let’s face it, a lousy basketball team, changed the equation. It’s time to acknowledge a painful fact: they never put a ring on it. And now that the Sacramento Kings can’t even sell out the arena on “Groupon,” they want to leave us for what they view as a bigger, better deal in Southern California. Never mind that Los Angeles already has two professional basketball teams and six professional sports teams. Surely the City of Angels can support a franchise with the third worst win-loss record in the NBA (dead last in 08-09) – clearly, someone’s hoping for some divine intervention.
Maybe it’s time for us to stop our pity party and lose the baggage. After all, part of the equation for Forbes’ determination that Sacramento was the nation’s 5th most miserable city was the fact that we had such a terrible professional basketball team. So can we redefine ourselves as a spectacular city without a professional sports team? I happen to think that Sacramento has way more to offer on the grid than on the court, and that it’s time for a downtown renaissance. The Maloofs couldn’t have been less interested in that, and now we need to stop allowing ourselves to be defined by them. We’re not Los Angeles and we’re not Las Vegas. Thank goodness. Sacramento has a soul and I’d like to keep it that way.
And just so we’re not too starry-eyed about the history of our relationship with the Kings franchise – I’d like to remind of us of a few “rough” patches throughout the years. Let’s start with the Sacramento Monarchs, former national WNBA champions (2005), who the Kings’ owners summarily dismissed when the economy sank and the profit-margin for women’s basketball diminished. Didn’t matter that the Monarchs’ win-loss record far surpassed that of their Kings’ brethren – the bottom-line bottomed out, and the ladies were sent packing.
And let’s not forget about the arena formerly known as Arco. For years, we heard that Arco Arena just wasn’t good enough for an NBA arena – but we never heard any convincing ideas on how to pay for a new one. This has never been a fun discussion for anyone involved – but in a budget-conscious era where local fire stations are closing and teachers are getting laid off, it’s hard to convince an already cash-strapped public that they need to pay for a new arena, particularly when there’s been a fickle commitment from the team’s owners to stick around.
The fact is, if a well-thought-out and fair plan was presented that benefited the whole community, the people of Sacramento and their elected leaders would come together to support it. That never happened. And spun-up arguments about millions in sales and property tax revenue generated by the arena and the Kings industry never materialized to improve the local economy, particularly in the hard-hit North Natomas neighborhoods surrounding the arena.
So maybe, just maybe – it’s time to eat our left-over Valentine’s chocolates, have a good cry about it, put everything they own in a box to the left, and move on. I, for one, am convinced that Sacramento can survive a broken heart inflicted by the “Kings,” and come back hotter than ever. XOXO