Some weeks ago in an earlier column, I mentioned that one of the less heralded nuggets of NBA news was the potential move of the Kings out of Sacramento.
Since then, the rumour has gained traction and weight to the point that almost everyone sees it as a foregone conclusion that the Maloofs, having realised that they will not get a free arena in Sacramento built for them, are planning to move the team to the Honda Center in Anaheim as co-tenants with the Mighty Ducks hockey team.
While the Mighty Ducks movies (where the team got their name – true story) were one of my cherished childhood memories, I personally as a basketball fan and a close friend of a Kings fan hate this move.
There are a number of reasons why.
Sacramento is a great basketball city.
In the early part of the decade, when the Kings had Chris Webber and were a perennial playoff team (and would have won the West in 2002 had it not been for the most blatant referee con job, bar none including the 2006 Finals, in NBA history) they were carried every year by the best home crowd that isn’t Oracle Arena or Madison Square Garden in the league. Arco Arena was packed every game with die hard Kings fans who weren’t afraid to make a shitload of noise for their team. Even in the 90s, when the Kings were lousy, Arco sold out almost every game. The only reason they can’t do so anymore? The world economic downturn hit California pretty hard, which led to a significant rollback in their state government services. As Sacramento is the state capital, this naturally led to a significant loss of jobs and income around the city – many former fans simply couldn’t afford to get to games. Way to piss on your loyal fans – once they can’t afford to support you any more, you ditch them for the spray tans and fake tits of Southern California.
Speaking of which…
Orange County Residents Will Not Support The Kings.
It’s not rocket science as to why. I’ve lived in the area in the past and still have a lot of family there. Of those who care about basketball, roughly 75% are Laker diehards, 20% are new Clipper/Blake Griffin fans and the other 5% are transplants.
Besides, this is Southern freaking California we’re talking about. It’s not even moving the Sonics to Oklahoma City, where you’re taking a likeable young team with a superstar in the making to a small market who will naturally galvanize behind their team. People in SoCal are too busy getting their hair bleached, posing and trying to be seen to give a shit that they have a basketball team, especially a rebuilding one with owners trying to do things on the cheap. The Ducks have only ever had one season consistently selling over 85% of their seats – and that was when they were the reigning Stanley Cup champions. How will a rebuilding Kings team do?
It sets a terrible precedent.
Whether David Stern likes to admit it or not, the NBA needs small market teams. If for no other reason than that they give some variety in the uniforms.
Seriously, though, if the Kings are allowed to move to Anaheim it puts every other small market team who don’t have a state-of-the-art arena/taxpayers won’t pay for said arena at risk. As a Warriors fan, I’m especially worried by the danger of a team being relocated to the HP Pavilion in San Jose, cutting into my team’s market share and revenue.
The Arena Debate Is Moot.
For two reasons.
1) The Maloofs have essentially not tried very hard to get a new arena since a ballot measure was rejected in 2006. A lot has been made of the fact that Kevin Johnson is the mayor of Sacramento – but even so, there hasn’t been much other than talk from either side.
2) The Honda Center is only five years newer than Arco Arena. It has the luxury boxes the Maloofs want for extra revenue, but it too is probably due for an upgrade in a few years or so. What’s the point again?
Honestly, this whole move is incredibly short-sighted. If they planned to move to Kansas City or St Louis (smaller markets, but both with state of the art arenas) or Seattle (questionable arena situation but a city waiting with open arms for a new team) it would make more sense. It would still be morally indefensible for mine, but at least the finances make more sense.
Anaheim, on the other hand…this to me just smacks of laziness and the Maloofs wanting to be in the LA spotlight more.
My advice to them? Be careful what you wish for.