Long Live the Kings

Posted: May 4, 2011 by Keith Stone in basketball

The Maloof Family announced that the Kings are returning to Sacramento for the 2011-2012 season. That’s great news. While the team has struggled for the past few years and has a crummy arena, it still has some of the most loyal fans in the league.

It would be a crime to move the Kings, especially to a market like Anaheim. I understand moving a team back to Seattle. They deserve a team and what happened to the SuperSonics was a travesty. Even Las Vegas would be an interesting market for a team and the Maloofs own a casino there, but Anaheim? The Honda Center, while better than Power Balance Pavilion née Arco Arena, is still over 20 years old and the LA market already has two compelling teams with the Lakers and Blake Griffin’s Clippers. Orange County may have more affluent fans but there’s no way they would be more passionate.

The NBA exists because of the fans. Not the rich ones, the ones that care. Fans that bring cowbells to games. Fans that don’t sit down until their team scores their first basket. Fans that came thisclose to making the Finals and deserve another chance to get there. If a team can last 25 years in a market and achieve some success in that span, it should never move. Despite the natural ebb-and-flow of winning and losing, short-term failure and the resulting dip in fan support and revenue shouldn’t force a team to relocate. The Knicks would have moved five years ago if they were a small market team. If the Maloofs can’t afford the team, they should sell. It’s the right thing to do.

The league set a bad precedent by what happened in Seattle and arguably the situations currently in New Orleans and Charlotte are worse. The Maloofs and Commisioner Stern will continue to work with the City of Sacramento to find a solution to the arena and revenue problems but nothing is committed past next season. A team brings a city together and this is magnified in one-sport cities like Sacto. Those Webber-Bibby-Divac were a lot of fun to watch and part of it was the cowbells. It would be despicable to silence them.

ESPN

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