New 30 for 30 Film Showcase Sacramento’s Fighting Spirit


Sacramento is in the middle of a valley in the center of Northern California. It’s not hippy San Francisco, it’s not glamourous L.A, and it’s not the tourism magnet San Diego is. Nope, Sacramento is a government town that many in the state tend to overlook.

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But coming soon to a television near you, Americans far and wide will be able to see what makes Sacramento so special.

ESPN will focus its next 30 for 30 film on what is perhaps the greatest underdog story in recent sports memory. Titled “Down in the Valley,” the film will focus primarily on how Kevin Johnson, the homegrown NBA star turned mayor, fought against the odds to keep the Sacramento Kings from going to the Emerald City of Seattle.

How huge were the Odds? For starters, Seattle is a larger media market than Sacramento, and the city is home to corporations with deep pocket owners, something this dusty city in the valley has long lacked. One of those deep pocketed corporation owners was Chris Hansen, a hedge fund manager based in San Francisco who struck a deal with the Maloof Brothers to move the team to Seattle.

The NBA normally doesn’t reject relocation applications, so it looked like a long-shot that the city would get to keep the team that they loved so dearly. But that horrible situation unearthed a fighting spirit that many thought Sacramento lacked. Together will grass-roots groups and a determined mayor, the city was able to do the unthinkable – convince the NBA Board of Governors that Sacramento was the best place for the Kings.

“Down in the Valley” will explore not only Johnson’s quest to fight off the big moneyed interest in Seattle and anti-arena voters in his own city, but it will also showcase a city that has pride in itself and a fierce determination not to let its beloved asset go without a fight.

I personally can’t wait until the 30 for 30 documentary premiers, as it will serve as a reminder to all of us that we have to fight to keep what’s rightfully ours.