Some people may claim fans make no difference in the outcome for Kings; however, I beg to differ. It is true, fans don’t sign the contracts executed for the sale of the team, fans don’t have a seat at the NBA Board of Governors table when the question of relocation is voted on; but fans are critical.
Let’s go back to Maloofs’ attempt to skip town to head to Anaheim, California. A lot of people believed it was a done deal. A lot of people believed that there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. A lot of people were calling out people for being in denial for not coming to the realization that the team was leaving town. A lot of people…I was one of them.
That was then and those of us who lived it, were a part of it, well remember fans refused to believe, refused to cave in, and refused to give up the dream of keeping the team in Sacramento. Fans made a lot of noise, #HereWeStay became an anthem, and Carmichael Dave became a voice of the people. In short – it became a movement, which drew upon momentum to capture a national stage.
It was that momentum which helped to support and propel Mayor Kevin Johnson to have an invitation by NBA Commissioner David Stern to make a presentation at the Board of Governors’ meeting in New York, which changed everything. It halted the Maloofs’ exit out of Sacramento and began a quest in earnest to build a new arena in downtown Sacramento.
Fans didn’t stop there. It was that voice which supported the Sacramento City Council to move forward on plans. Those voices helped to quell many who were in opposition of the plan. It was #FANS now Crown Downtown who made their presence seen and heard at those meetings.
Fast forward to today, to the daunting news the Maloofs sold the team to a Seattle group led by Chris Hansen. Same thing. It was reported as a done deal and later as binding, as though the deal were bound with no escape to an eventual inevitable conclusion to so many in Seattle and nationally. Even now, there are still those detractors who want us to believe the fans have no voice. But they are wrong.
Although the events in this go-around of the Maloof Sacramento Kings’ saga differ in certain aspects, with an impending sale; in so many ways, the situation has the same essential elements which were present previously.
This time, fans are more astute, more learned, unwilling to whittle away valuable time. As though being alarmed of imminent danger, adrenaline provided the rush to immediate action. This time, fans know they can make a difference, despite the mocks and ridicule by so many, jeering Sacramento Kings fans for what to them seems like impotent efforts by fools. Much of the framework and organization of the previous work are still in place.
Twitter accounts already established from the last effort, some swelled with followers. Fans are much more savvy to moving information around, building unity, and broadening the message across a wider stage. A petition was started to demonstrate to the NBA the wishes of the fans. Sports blogs covered the story 24/7 with fans dissecting each and every morsel, wanting to understand every legal ramification, and possible loophole to exploit.
Fans were right there to back Kevin Johnson, who was at the ready to pick up from where he and the city left off. Keep in mind, fans were strategizing even after the deal fell apart last April. Fans debated the merits of boycotting versus filling the arena to show support. In the end, some middle ground emerged, which no doubt had some impact on the owners’ diminished profits – an important factor which could have led to their eventual decision to sell the team.
In the end, to those who believe fans have no influence in the outcome of this chapter; you underestimate the people who support their team, their city, and their mayor. Sacramento may be a “cow town” but don’t be fooled by the cowbells. Sacramento Kings’ fans do not give up, which is a story in its own right. My message to the world who believes the fans have no voice or impact in the outcome in Sacramento; with all due respect, you are wrong.