Dear Maloof Family,
I'm writing this letter in light of your most recent attempt to have the Sacramento Kings sold and relocated. Of course, this isn't the first time the franchise has been tied to relocation since you took over as owners, only the most recent.
I understand that as business owners, it's your prerogative to operate your business as you see fit, even if it means selling said enterprise. God knows, at this point, no Kings fan would complain about your severing ties with the organization.
However, the problem is your insistence on selling to an ownership group that's determined to relocate the franchise to Seattle, and your steadfast desire to tear out the heart of our community—a community that's supported you and the team throughout your stay in Sacramento.
Between the binding agreement to sell the team to an ownership group in Seattle, and the counter offer led by Vivek Ranadive, as reported by Sam Amick of USA Today, to purchase the franchise, it’s very likely that your ties to the organization will cease to exist following the season. So, now would be the perfect time to reflect on your tenure as owners of the team.
As an honest Kings fan, I readily acknowledge that you presided over the team's period of greatest success since coming to Sacramento. It was a period that saw the franchise qualify for the playoffs eight straight years and make the Western Conference Finals in 2001-02.
You also guided it to the darkest era in franchise history. The team's recent four-year run (2008-09 through 2011-12) is worse, in terms of winning percentage (88-224; .282 winning percentage), than any such four-year stretch in its 65 years of existence.
The good years saw the Kings ranked as high as No. 4 overall in ESPN's 2003 rankings of North American professional sports franchises, and your ownership group was slotted as high as No. 3.
Yet the bad years have seen your franchise plummet all the way to No. 121, and your ownership group descend to No. 122, in the same rankings for 2012. And that's out of 122 possible teams. That's right—you're now effectively the worst owners in American professional sports.
While your tenure as owners has certainly had its ups and, most recently, downs, one thing that’s remained a constant throughout your era as owners, and throughout the duration of the team’s stay in Sacramento, is the fan support.
The Kings have sold out 19 of their 27 seasons in Sacramento . This despite not much on-court success, other than the eight-year run in the early 2000s.
The Kings then went on another sellout streak, this one reaching 354 straight games . It started on Nov. 26, 1999 against the Golden State Warriors and ended Nov. 6, 2007 vs. the Seattle SuperSonics. And up to that point, the team had sold out 873 of 922 games in Sacramento (regular season and playoffs).
Even now, with the franchise seemingly having one foot out the door on its way to Seattle, and the team playing in the worst arena the NBA has to offer, we still come out to support the team.
On average, the Kings have filled Sleep Train Arena to 78.1 percent capacity throughout the season, according to ESPN. And that’s a figure that’s only increased since it was announced the team would be sold.
Speaking of Sleep Train Arena, it's deplorable. Both you and the city have acknowledged that it’s a situation that needs to be remedied for the team to stay in Sacramento long term. Yet while the city has been willing to put its money where its mouth is and do something about it, you’ve sat on your hands.
Last February, Commissioner David Stern and Mayor Kevin Johnson worked with you to come up with a plan for a new arena. An agreement was struck between all parties, and one that would have the city forking out over $255 million in public money. Your contribution to the $391 million plan was expected to be only $73 million, with $67 million coming in the form of a loan from the NBA.
Regardless of the city’s willingness to cover nearly two-thirds of the arena plan, and the league offering to front you all but $6 million of your family's contribution, you backed out of the deal .
Your financial situation has seemingly taken a hit over the years. After selling your main money-making enterprise, your beer and liquor distributorship, to focus your financial endeavors into the Palms Casino, you had to sell all but a 2 percent interest in the Palms due to the recession .
You need financial relief, I get it. Everyone's entitled to the opportunity to prosper. But why do you insist on relocating the franchise in the process?
First it was a proposed move to Anaheim, Calif. two years ago. After the relocation to Southern California was thwarted, you were exploring shifting the franchise to Virginia Beach, Va. It even came out that you examined transplanting the Kings to Las Vegas, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Of course, that doesn't even begin to mention your plans to sell the team to an ownership group that would relocate it to Seattle. Including Seattle, that's four different attempts to have the Kings jettisoned from Sacramento...all within a two-year period.
Why not just find a way to make it work here in Sacramento? There's obviously a fanbase that's willing to support the franchise. You also have a city that's demonstrated it's willing to work with you. Do you have some sort of personal vendetta against the fans? Are your personal differences with Mayor Johnson so great that you're unwilling to work together with the city?
If it’s a supposed lack of viable buyers willing to keep the team in Sacramento, then that doesn’t make sense, either. You’ve known since your attempted move to Anaheim that billionaire Ron Burkle has wanted to buy the team and keep it here. You’ve also seen the counter-offer led by Vivek Ranadive that would pay you for the Kings and keep them in Sacramento.
Maybe it’s because, as David Aldridge of NBA.com suggested, you’ve allowed things to get personal in Sacramento. So much so, that you were unwilling to even listen to offers from potential owners that desired to keep the team here.
Being the good business people you supposedly are, you should know that keeping business and personal feelings separated is imperative.
But even if you have some sort of personal vendetta against Ron Burkle or Mayor Johnson, you shouldn’t allow that to jade you from all of us that have supported you since you came here.
We helped make Kings basketball one of the best sports experiences around. We still go out to games, this despite the team having a potentially grim future in Sacramento. And we've shown with our resistance to relocation, and with our community's leaders fighting the move every step of the way, that there will be support here in the future.
We always have and always will love our Kings. Regardless of what appears to be a very dark tunnel in front of us, we're still looking to the light at the end of it. So while you may have soured on our community and its worthiness to keep this team, we sure haven't. Our resolve is stronger than ever.
You may have torn down our franchise; you may attempt to beat us down. But regardless of what happens with the team's future in Sacramento, you can't break us. This fanbase and this community will always stick together. Nothing you can do will change that.
Follow me on Twitter: @SimRisso
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