A palpable collective sigh of relief was felt across Sacramento as news about the sale of the Sacramento Kings to the Sacramento investment group was announced last night by Tony Bizjak, Ryan Lillis, and Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee. This followed the announced rejection by the NBA on Wednesday, May 15, for the Sacramento Kings to relocate to Seattle.
While I cannot speak for all Sacramento Kings fans, for myself, this has been an emotionally draining process, especially this past year. The news, while not totally unexpected, still feels surreal. It was by no small feat that we can share in this historic occasion. For loyal fans of the Kings, this means a new beginning and an end to the torturous dismantling of the team we love.
It is fair to say, basketball news per se took a backseat this season, as the political news about the sale of the team took priority. Somehow, news about the team was empty when the very future of the team was clouded in uncertainty. Overhanging every discussion of a player, game, or possible trade was the omnipresent possibility the team could be gone next year – Sacramento could lose its team. Without a team there is no basketball, at least in Sacramento.
So, it comes with tremendous relief, pleasure, and joy to know Sacramento keeps its team. We can again speak of basketball; we can again debate the merits of one draft prospect over another; and we can again dream of owning a particular player. With new ownership, we can set the bar higher, dream bigger, with full knowledge of the possibliiies.
Mayor Kevin Johnson is our hero. He pulled himself up from defeat to achieve success through perseverance. He brought together a fantastic investment group to negotiate effectively with the NBA to keep the team here. NBA owners showed their support by overwhelmingly voting to keep the team here. Vivek Ranadivé, head of the Sacramento group saw the value of investing in Sacramento, bringing a vision to transform our team and community.
Yet, who could have imagined ten years ago that it would the fans of the Sacramento Kings who would prove to be pivotal in the future direction of Sacramento? Ten years from now, we can look back and acknowledge that each one of us played a part of this.
As fans we supported one another. The grassroots’ involvement by Crown Downtown, founded by Mike Tavares, tenaciously supported Mayor Johnson’s vision to revitalize downtown, while Here We Stay, founded by Blake Ellington, was the initial grassroots movement, which provided fans the blueprint to organize themselves. Carmichael Dave, now a popular folk hero, used his platform to galvanize fans. Sactown Royalty, founded by Tom Ziller, became an Internet fan community, where dialogue translated into brainstorming of ideas, spilling over into every facet of the efforts to keep the team here.
Local businesses, including Jiffy-Lube, stepped up support to keep the team. Twitter, our highway of communication, notified thousands of fans in seconds. It was a single tweet which set off the flurry of events to save the team. Without the leaking of the projected sale of the team to Seattle investor, Chris Hansen, Sacramento might have been caught flat-footed, without time to navigate. Local news stations, including News 10 California and Fox 40, have not only reported the news but became invested in the story as a part of the fabric of the community.
There are countless people to acknowledge. This truly is a victory for Sacramento.