I loved watching the old Lakers/Kings rivalry, and I cheered every time Sacramento lost to L.A. in the playoffs. I thought it was hilarious when Shaquille O’Neal referred to them as the “Sacramento Queens” and I laughed when he declared that L.A. was the new capital of California.
Despite all of that, I find no joy in the Kings leaving Sacramento.
In fact, I find it kind of depressing.
The Kings used to be one of the elite NBA franchises. From 1999-2006, the Kings made the postseason eight straight times and Arco Arena was a nightmare for road teams, as it was filled with screaming fans and deafening cow bells.
Rooting against the Kings was fun because they were good. When Jason Williams was running the point, they were a flashy and exciting team. When he was traded for Mike Bibby, they quickly became a legitimate title contender that almost made it to the 2002 NBA Finals.
It’s amazing how quickly things can change.
In a few short years, the Kings went from being one of the top NBA franchises to one of the worst.
Their two best players are Demarcus Cousins, the most crazy/volatile rookie to hit the NBA in years and Tyreke Evans, a point guard who isn’t really a point guard.
The Kings haven’t put a decent team on the court for several seasons and attendance at Arco Arena continues to drop. Chris Webber was their most recent marquee player and he was traded in 2005.
All of these factors combined have left the owners, fans and players frustrated.
Owners Joe and Gavin Maloof have decided that enough is enough and are moving the team out of town. While a move isn’t necessarily fair for Sacramento, I understand why the Kings are looking to relocate.
The Maloofs have made it clear that they want two things—a new arena and a bigger market—factors that Sacramento can neither provide nor control.
They appear to have selected Anaheim as the team’s new home.
In Anaheim, the Maloofs find a more suitable arena (the Honda Center), a much larger market (Southern California), a catchy new name (the Anaheim Royals) and the opportunity to play down the street from the Happiest Place on Earth (Disneyland).
Sounds great, right?
While the move to Anaheim does have many positive aspects, there is one glaring negative that must be discussed: Who is going to cheer for these Royals?
The Maloofs plan to move the Kings to a city that sits just 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles—the home of both the Lakers and Clippers.
For years, the Lakers have been the class of the NBA while the Clippers have been the laughingstock.
If the Clippers feel that they have been overshadowed by the Lakers, how will the Kings feel when they are overshadowed by the Clippers?
With a move to Anaheim, the Kings will go from being the only show in town, to just another show.
In Sacramento, they are a big fish in a small pond; in Southern California, they will be just another fish.
Why would anyone cheer for the Royals when the Lakers and the Clippers are just down the road? Why put three basketball teams in an area that still doesn’t have an NFL team?
Like so many things in life, the main factor driving this decision is money—something the Maloofs desperately need.
Anaheim Ducks owner Henry Samueli has offered to loan the Maloofs $100 million to help them cover relocation expenses and pay off an existing debt to the city of Sacramento.
The Maloofs will have a new arena and plenty of cash waiting for them in Anaheim.
The Royals will have a new city that doesn’t care for them and an old city that is now embittered. Does a move to Anaheim really make sense for the team?
No, but the Maloofs don’t care.
It makes plenty of cents for them.