As a proud, die-hard Kings fan for the past, let’s say 21 years (since I’m 21 years old, and I went to my first game at three weeks of age), I have seen a lot of suffering. There are plenty of great memories, don’t get me wrong, but as a franchise I’d say the bulk of the memories are ones that ended in tears for me and many other fans.
My earliest memories of the Kings that I can really think of are probably seeing a player jump into onlookers or cameramen on the baseline, for the first time – that player, by the way, was Michael “The Animal” Smith – and off the court I remember playing 2 on 2 basketball with my older brother, Bobby, against Slamson and Mark Hendrickson, you may know him best for his most recent years, as a pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles.
Both of those memories though, don’t compare to when I was about five or six, a man would sometimes come to me and my brother and he’d give us some popcorn before games. I never really knew who he was, he’d just go back to his box seats behind us, in section 118. Later I’d find out that that man was Jim Thomas, the Kings’ previous owner before the Maloofs.
Now as a 21 year old man, who’s been to hundreds of Kings games, fan fests yearly, pre-season practices open to the public, player signings and countless other Kings events, it seems like a complete 180 that we went from an owner that would hand popcorn to young fans, to owners that would lie to those same, now grown, fans and rip possible memories from young fans, including my niece who’s been to more than 20 games and she’s not even three.
First came the Las Vegas rumors, once the Maloofs opened the Palms, all you heard was “the Maloofs are going to try and send the Kings to Vegas”, then the Anaheim rumors, where we had to hear from David Stern that our franchise moving was a possibility, to the most random rumor, Virginia Beach. I wont even get into that one, but now I have to hear that the Kings might possibly be sent to Seattle?
Trust me, I feel for what Seattle went through, now that our city has been so close to losing our major sports team, but it’s tough to feel too sorry for a place that still has two major sports teams, the Seahawks and Mariners, as well as an MLS franchise and a division one Pac-12 college.
But, I really don’t want to get into that debate, I’d rather talk about myself and my experiences as a Kings fan. As my title claims, there’s been a hefty amount of broken dreams and missed opportunities. The main ones I remember, came playing against the Lakers, Mavericks and Timberwolves. If I said: Horry, the injury, and the missed three; any Kings fan would know what I’m talking about. Even though every moment was dreadful and typing this brings me pain, it’s only fitting that Chris Webber was the player around each of those defining Sacramento Kings moments.
Chris Webber, the player who spoke to his dad after finding out the news about coming here and had to be convinced to join the team, is the same player that our city welcomed with open arms, is the same player whose wave goodbye still brings me chills to this day. Now to think I would never see his jersey hanging in the rafters at Arco-Power-Sleep-Train-Arena? I can’t fathom it. I can’t imagine not being in that arena, no matter the name of it, with 17,316 other fans, roaring, and setting NBA decibel records in the process while cheering for our Sacramento Kings. (My father’s story from years ago still stands out to this day. He said the arena was so loud one game, that there was a man in front of him waving a huge cowbell and he couldn’t even hear it.) This can’t be the last year I see this team. I refuse to lose the product we’ve cheered on through all the 20-whatever win seasons, only to see them flourish in another city.
A couple days ago I read a post from Adrian Wojnarowski who said one source claimed the sale “1st and goal at the 1” and immediately our fans took action, creating petitions and emailing the mayor Kevin Johnson, begging for him to find a buyer, since the Kings had, to the public’s knowledge, previously not been for sale, and pleading our case to NBA officials for why Sacramento should keep our team.
Even with all the heartbreak and the fact our team hasn’t been relevant since Kevin Martin’s layup, it makes me proud to be a member of a fan base like this. With there not being many highlights, and our home arena, recently, barely averaging even a mild attendance, I’m glad this town still shows the fire and passion we had all of those championship hopeful seasons, when we were painting the town- and water- purple.
Even with all the trials, the tough times, and the losses that sting to this day, we’re not ready to give up and I have no doubt we’ll surprise people of Seattle, and even the country, with the fight we put up even after multiple reports have basically called this a “done deal”. Let’s just remember, these are the same fans, albeit I wasn’t born yet, that caused a perennial all star and Hall of Famer, Larry Bird, career FT% 0.886, to miss two free throws because of the noise in the arena.
Let’s make some noise Sacramento. This isn’t over.