NBA Should Keep the Kings in Sacramento: An Outsider's View

Joseph HealyCorrespondent IApril 17, 2011

SACRAMENTO, CA - APRIL 13:  Fans of the Sacramento Kings hold up signs against the Los Angeles Lakers on April 13, 2011 at Power Balence Pavilion in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

I'll preface my take on this subject by saying that I am not in any way a Kings fan. I have never lived in Sacramento or bought a piece of Kings merchandise. I'm simply an NBA fan afraid that a great NBA city is going to have their team ripped from their hands.

You may have scoffed at my statement that Sacramento is a great NBA city, but it's true.

Unless you count the minor league Sacramento River Cats, the Kings are the only show in town. The city lives and breathes the Kings.

There was a time when the Arco Arena rocked like no arena in the NBA. Think back to those Kings teams about 10 years ago that battled the Lakers for Western Conference supremacy. Playoff games in that arena were nuts. Kings fans arrived early, stayed late, and rang their cowbells like there was no tomorrow.

For my money, those same Kings teams are among the best teams of the last 25 years to never win a championship.

Their roster was stacked. Chris Webber. Mike Bibby. Doug Christie. Vlade Divac. Peja Stojakovic. Bobby Jackson. Hedo Turkoglu. All those guys along with Rick Adelman, one of the greatest coaches in NBA history.

Technically, that history will move with the team to Anaheim, but it won't be the same. That history would stay in Sacramento while the Kings, or whatever they choose to call them, become just another team in Orange County.

With the Lakers and Clippers in town, the market for fans in Southern California is pretty watered down. Who, living in the Los Angeles area, doesn't already have a team to call their own?

The Lakers have their fans of course, and with Blake Griffin quickly becoming one of the more popular young players in the league, the Clippers bandwagon is bound to become pretty full pretty quick.

I know the Maloof brothers don't want to sell the team and just want to find a profitable market, but Anaheim just makes no sense. Anaheim doesn't give the league an untapped market and the Kings would always struggle to get out of the Lakers shadow. Ask the Clippers how that has worked out.

The Maloofs hide behind saying that there isn't enough support for the team in Sacramento. The city supports the team and was packing the arena when the Kings were winning. They haven't been winning as of late, so attendance has lagged some.

All that does, though, is just lump the Kings in with every other team in the league. No fans are going to pay face value for tickets when the product is bad.

This isn't about support for the team. This is about the Maloofs wanting a newer, more profitable arena in Sacramento.

The state of California is broke so they aren't going to get public money and the Maloof's casinos are hemorrhaging money so they aren't looking to donate. Wanting to build a state-of-the-art arena is a legitimate thing to want for your team, but it's a bad reason to move a team.

Unfortunately, there is precedent for a move like this. Just three years ago, a great basketball city in Seattle lost their team to Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett bought the Sonics and then used their older Key Arena as a reason to say that the team needed to move.

Like Anaheim, a move to Oklahoma City was a head-scratcher. That team and city has just been lucky to hit home runs with a couple of draft picks in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to get their team into championship contention.

When that team hits hard times, as every team eventually does, will Oklahoma City still be able to support a team? That's the question that everyone is asking about Oklahoma City and eventually they will have to ask that question about Anaheim if this move goes through.

There is a possible hero out there for Sacramento, though. Billionaire Ron Burkle has expressed interest in purchasing the Kings and keeping them in Sacramento. The problem is, as I said before, the brothers Maloof say they aren't interested in selling.

If the team moves, Burkle has also expressed interest in bringing a team back to Sacramento through expansion or another team relocating. That, though, is a long-term solution.

If you feel the same way I do, let your voice be heard. Call or email sports radio stations to get them talking about it. If you are a writer, do as I have done and write about it. Talk about it with other NBA fans. Join the numerous Facebook groups supporting the Kings staying in Sacramento.

Here's to hoping the Maloofs and the NBA hear us.