We’re just a few hours away from tip-off of the final game of the season for the Sacramento Kings who host the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers at Power Balance Pavilion, I mean,ARCO Arena (Who are we kidding,it will always be ARCO to all of us). What is different about this season finale is that it is more than likely the last time any of us who have grown up with the Kings playing here will see professional basketball, or professional sports in general, in the Capitol City.
While I’ve made it known that I will become a Golden State Warriors fan once the Kings have left and called the Honda Center home, a big part of me will miss the Kings. This team moved here when I was three years old, they have played in ARCO Arena all this time, they went from really bad to really good to really bad again. My first NBA game was right there in ARCO Arena when I was 13 years old, a 95-89 win over Denver. That year, the Kings got off to a good start only to lose 11 straight and finish 39-43. They did,however,make the playoffs as the eighth seed and won a game in that series to the eventual Western Conference champions, the Seattle SuperSonics, who are now the Oklahoma City Thunder.
While the Kings may be gone, the joy and the memories will linger. The memories of J-Will, C-Webb, Peja and Vlade and the razzle dazzle style of play that they brought. The memory of getting a purple Chris Webber #4 jersey, I loved that jersey and wish I still had it! The memories of the Bench Mob with guys like Bobby Jackson, Lawrence Funderburke, and Scot Pollard. The magical season of 2002 where they almost got their ring, but three referees who allegedly fixed Game 6 of the Conference finals got in their way, and so did the Lakers, kind of.
The fight between Rick Fox and Doug Christie and he aftermath in the tunnel of the Staples Center during pre-season, that was actually pretty exciting in my opinion. I had not seen anything like it until,of course, the Malice at the Palace two years later. These memories will never go away and I hope that all Kings fans who are sad and morose about the team leaving will treasure them. You can be mad about their departure, you can be mad at the Maloofs, you can be mad at the city, you can be mad about the team not playing up to your expectations, but looking back I am sure most of you fans will look back on 26 years of great memories through the good and bad.
You’re probably asking me why I am not holding out much hope for the team to stay. I’ll say to you this: It’s not that I am not holding out hope, it’s a very quiet hope that they do. But because I have this feeling about the whole situation of “too little,too late”.
Kings broadcaster Grant Napear appeared on The Gary Radnich Show on KNBR about two weeks ago and told Radnich that he said to the Maloofs about five years ago that if they really want the city to get involved in an arena deal, they should threaten to leave, and Napear is right, they should’ve. I appreciate the efforts of HereWeBuild and HereWeStay and others who want the team to keep playing here, I love that they want the team to be here for another 26 years or so, it just feels like any effort to do so is futile. Plus,the NBA has never vetoed a move to any team at any time. While I do think there are many No votes to come to the Kings if they are to relocate, overall, I think the Yes votes will be there.
It’s a sad thing when any team leaves a city, no sports fan likes to see that ever because if it can happen to Cleveland when the Browns left in 1995 and to Seattle in 2008 with the SuperSonics, it can happen just about anywhere. I hope the folks going to tonight’s game really enjoys themselves and appreciates the memories that this team has brought them. Sporting events should be bringing us joy, not heartbreak.