Friday, March 4, 2011

The Saga Continues For The Kings, Just Not In Sacramento

When the Kings first moved to Sacramento in 1985, it was a match made in heaven. They improved their record by six wins and were able to make a push into the playoffs during their first season in their new city. It seemed to be the perfect combination for the capital of California and a team that moved three times in the previous fifteen years.

Then came a dark period in Sacramento.

A decade of insignificance rained down on the team from 1986 through 1996. The team dealt with tragedies (Bobby Hurley’s motorcycle accident and Ricky Berry’s suicide) and questionable decisions (selection of Pervis Ellison in 1989 draft), all while being the NBA piƱata as teams would bash them constantly.

Hope seemed all but lost for the franchise, until a family came in and purchased the team.

The Maloof family began as minority owners in 1998, but ended up taking full control of the team the year after. With a few clever moves to strengthen the roster (trading for Chris Webber, signing Vlade Divac, and drafting Peja Stojakovic and Jason Williams), the Kings became the new sensation of the NBA.

They rose quickly in the standings and became a playoff contender, as well as a thorn in the side of the great three-peat, Los Angeles Lakers team featuring Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. The pinnacle of the franchise occurred in 2002 when they reached the West finals, only to lose to their rival Lakers in seven games. Although they never reached those heights again, they would be a consistent playoff team until 2006.

Then came the return of the gloomy times for Sacramento.

The roster was slowly shredded apart after the 2002 conference finals, with the last standout of that team, PG Mike Bibby, being traded in 2008. They would juggle their players and coaching staff as the years progressed, but never retained the same magic they had in the early 2000s. Although they have shown flashes of trying to rebuild their team, such as having 2010 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans as the face of the franchise, they are in the lower echelon of the NBA as they are currently the second worst team in the Western conference.

Now, their rebuilding process may restart in a new destination.

According to an article on
, the Kings will most likely have a new home when 2011-12 season kicks off. Former Phoenix Suns point guard and current Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson sounded pessimistic about the chance that the team would stay put in Arco Arena.

"It's more likely they're going to be in Anaheim,” says Johnson in the article.

Could this be true? Could the only professional sports team in California’s state capital be heading down south to be the third wheel of all the Los Angeles basketball teams?

It’s sad to imagine just how far the team has fallen since their renaissance period in the first decade of the 21st century. No more clanging of cow bells during the games, no more support from the brothers who worked hard to make their team into a contender. The only remaining indication professional basketball existed in Sacramento is the dilapidated Power Balance Pavillion/Arco Arena sitting in the Natomas community.

The people of Sacramento and its fans are trying their best to retain their beloved team. Massive billboards are posted around/within the city limits and a Facebook page called SacDeflated is hoping to entice the team to stay and build more supporters to get behind their cause.

Even if they can rally more allies to their cause, the problems the franchise is facing appears too immense to overcome.

The team was hoping for opportunities to build a new stadium in a variety of locations in Sacramento, but never received approval by voters and governing boards that own the rights to the areas they surveyed. The team’s recent losing ways haven’t helped in generating interest in the team, causing a downward spiral in revenue the team brings in. Add the issue of the Maloof brothers’ financial problems over the past few years due to a slow economy (according to the article), and relocation appears all but inevitable.

April 13th may be the final professional sports game played in the city of Sacramento, when they host their rival from a decade ago, the Lakers. Ironically, Los Angeles will have a chance to hand the city’s it’s concluding loss, just as they did in 2002 when they knocked out their last chance to advance to the NBA finals for a shot at winning their first title since 1951.

When that day comes, it will be the darkest day for the city of Sacramento; as well as the beginning of a new chapter for the Kings’ organization in Anahiem.

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