Kings Fans Show Their Passion and Loyalty at 'Here We Buy' Night
Chants of "Sac-ra-men-to," "Let Us Match" and "Here We Stay" to the tune of cowbells brought back memories of Arco Thunder.
Jerseys and homemade items like t-shirts, banners and signs displayed the passion Sacramento Kings fans have for their team.
Halftime highlights from some of the most memorable moments in franchise history reminded everyone of what was and what could still be.
Officially dubbed "Here We Buy" night, Saturday night’s Kings home game against the Utah Jazz was less about the result of the teams on the court as it was about the resolve of the fans off the court—although the Kings’ 11-point win surely didn't hurt.
Organized by grassroots organizations and named after local radio personality Carmichael Dave’s (Dave Weiglein) website, herewebuy.org, the goal of "Here We Buy" Night was to sell out the game and show the NBA that even in the midst of relocation talks, Kings fans aren't going away without a fight.
"DO YOU HEAR US WORLD? DO YOU GET IT NOW???? It's not basketball. The fight is for the soul. Can't be bought. Can't be sold," Weiglein tweeted shortly after the game.
Long-time radio voice of the Kings, Gary Gerould, also shared his appreciation of the fans on Twitter after the game.
In the weeks leading up to the game, fans were urged to spread the word about "Here We Buy" Night. Other local sports radio personalities such as Grant Napear and Jason Ross used their platform to talk up the night as well.
Kings fans were off the charts tonight! Had the arena vibrating with energy. Absolutely cherish nights like this!!!— Gary Gerould (@ggerould) February 10, 2013
The Here We Stay group, former Kings player Donte Greene’s Circle of Success Foundation, 3Fold Communications and the Center for Fathers and Families also raised enough money to purchase 626 tickets for underprivileged kids and their families to attend, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Another grassroots group, Crown Downtown, rallied 55 fans to attend the game and had 100 shirts made to pass out to their group and other passionate fans.
"This is bigger than basketball to me," said Mike Tavares, one of the founders of Crown Downtown and a counselor and adjunct professor for the Los Rios Community College District. "This isn't about a Kings game, a win or a loss. Tonight is our opportunity to show once again that we are the best in the world."
Ultimately, the 16,193 fans in attendance fell about 1,000 shy of a sellout, but the atmosphere was no less electric—"The Wave" even made an appearance and the Kings' bench joined in.
"I've never had the chance to do 'The Wave' so I included myself in that and it was an incredible experience,” said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.
Kings guard Isaiah Thomas felt the excitement of the fans made an impact on the team’s performance.
"I think it got us the win," Thomas said. "They brought us energy and you guys seen it from the jump. We were energized and we looked like a completely different team."
The Kings rank at the very bottom of the league in average attendance per game this season, but the lack of long-term commitment to the city from ownership and another losing season haven’t helped.
The binding agreement that the Hansen/Ballmer group signed with the owners of the Kings, the Maloofs, to purchase the team and move them to Seattle has added extra weight to the hearts of Kings fans.
But in a press conference last week regarding the relocation of the Kings to Seattle, NBA commissioner David Stern made sure to also mention Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson’s opportunity to present a proposal to purchase the team and build an arena to the NBA’s Board of Governors before the approval of the sale is voted on.
"One of the things that our boards is mandated to consider is the support for the team in the prior city," The Sacramento Bee quoted Stern as saying.
Kings fans used "Here We Buy" Night as an opportunity to send the NBA and Stern a message of that support and to show Mayor Johnson that the fans have his back while he is hard at work putting together a bid.
"This city still cares about its team," Tavares said. "It’s still passionate… This market is still an NBA market and it’s the best."
"I love Kings fans!" Kings guard Thornton shouted in his post-game interview on the court.
Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin even shared his thoughts about Kings fans to the Utah-based Deseret News after the game.
"I think the fans here have really supported the team for a number of years," Corbin said. "It's a lot of jobs for a lot of folk. Just seeing the team leave would hurt a lot of people. It'd be an unfortunate situation if they do leave."
In addition to the success of "Here We Buy" Night, herewebuy.org now has 5,478 fans that have pledged $23,195,500 worth of season tickets should Sacramento keep the Kings and build a new arena.
Mayor Johnson has also gathered 20-plus local business owners who committed to contributing $1 million each toward keeping the Kings.
Ultimately, "Here We Buy" Night itself won’t directly affect the outcome of whether or not the Kings stay in Sacramento, but as the final thunderous roars of "Here We Stay" put an exclamation mark on the Kings’ win, you couldn't help but be reminded that Sacramentans won’t stop fighting to keep their team.
"They support us 110 percent," Thomas said. “You can’t blame the fans. They give it their all."
Jon Wilson is a Contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
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