When Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports first broke news of the Sacramento Kings potential sale to a Seattle based investment group, I had two thoughts. One – how dare the Maloof family and two – this isn’t Seattle’s fault.
It’s not. Seattle, like any other city in the country, has a right to a professional NBA franchise, especially after having their team yanked away at the cold, cruel hands of Clay Bennett. Say what you will about the politics of the situation, Seattle was ripped off – period. It was an awful situation and I can recall how awful I felt for their fans as the moving trucks backed up to the KeyArena loading docks. It was painful. Gut wrenching.
People who don’t follow sports don’t understand – this isn’t just a team that plays in your city. It’s a sense of pride. It’s a community bonding experience, especially in cities like Sacramento or Green Bay when it’s the lone attraction in town. This is more than a game. I’m sure you recall the first time your Father or Mother or maybe even a sibling or Grandparent took you to your first game. Maybe it was the lush green field of a baseball diamond that captured your heart – maybe it shiny, glistening floor of an NBA arena – but whatever it was, it created memories. Not only memories of what happened or what you saw that particular evening, but memories you’ll always cherish of the time you spent with your parent or whomever took you to that first event.
Maybe it grew into a tradition as you grew older – maybe it didn’t. Maybe you still share season tickets with your family – maybe you never attended another game, but for so many – professional sports is more than a game. It’s a lifetime experience filled with irreplaceable memories. You didn’t care what the final score was. You didn’t care what the odd’s were. You didn’t know the names on the back of the uniform – but you knew your Dad was pulling for them. You knew your Mother was rooting for them. So you did it too – and it stuck, forever.
What happened to the fans of Seattle was disgusting.
I love the game, so this isn’t simply somebody trying to sympathize now that I’m living it. Although I’ve grown up as a Sacramento Kings fan, the game captures my heart. Watching the power of Shawn Kemp throw down monster jam after monster jam was breathtaking. Watching Detlef Schrempf behind the three point line was like watching a marksman who has aced his craft. I wasn’t old enough to remember talents like Fred Brown or Jack Sikma, but to know that they now are essentially “NBA-homeless”, there are no words. The fact that Mr. Kemp and Mr. Schrempf no longer have a home to call their own – a fate that possibly awaits guys like Chris Webber and Vlade Divac? It chills your bones. Maybe these players didn’t build those arenas, but they damn sure decorated them.
You’d be hard pressed to find somebody outside of the Sonic fanbase who wants to see the NBA return to Seattle than me. No city deserves the memories they had stolen in the cover of night replaced more than Seattle. But at the expense of another fan base?
Look – I know this isn’t the fault of the Sonic fanbase. They have every right to be excited about the potential return of the NBA, but, it shouldn’t happen this way. Sacramento isn’t a city that hasn’t put forth an effort to keep their Kings. In fact, they’ve went above and beyond the call of duty – from Here We Stay to Small Market Big Heart to Here We Buy and so many other grassroots campaigns that deserve mention, they’ve went down with hay-maker after hay-maker. The plan for an arena was not only made, but agreed upon – only destroyed by an ownership group who refused to not have their cake and the ability to eat it too. The support is there – it’s overwhelming, actually.
For the most part, Sonic fans are an amazing bunch who’ve shown the same qualities and loyalties as those from Sacramento. Make no mistake, this isn’t in any way, shape or form a piece meant to bash them over their excitement – not at all. But pieces like the one on Grantland today – they’re not what King fans want to hear. No matter how it’s sliced, unless one is clamoring for the Kings to remain in Sacramento and an expansion team in Seattle – the blood is no different on the hands than the blood that dripped off of those in Oklahoma City. You can’t blame the excitement – and I’m not – but at the same time, we don’t want to hear “I’m sorry – buttttt…” while screams of excitement are heard in the background as we walk away.
Seattle deserves a basketball team and the NBA has failed them. I for one hope at some point in the near future, their hard work and dedication is rewarded. I just hope it’s not at the expense of Sacramento, who doesn’t deserve what’s happening to them – not because of politics – not because of poor fan support, but because of a family who doesn’t care about anybody other than themselves.
Think about what Sacramento will lose – you know the pain – there are millions of children in Seattle who’ve never seen a professional basketball game, never had the ability to share that memory with a parent or guardian. Thankfully, the Mariners and Seahawks have given those children other opportunities, but the Kings are all Sacramento has. Taking that away – those blood stains are the same color as they were in Seattle a few years back. In fact, they could be worse – hard as that is to imagine.
It’s a business – I understand that – we understand that – but it doesn’t make it right and we certainly don’t want to watch somebody steal away our treasure, even if it’s not their fault.
We don’t blame you Seattle – not one bit – but we can’t sit here and smile, and you know that.