$10 million is a nice start. But now it's time for the city of Sacramento to put much more money where their mouth is.
With today's announcement that the Sacramento Kings will indeed remain the Sacramento Kings for at least another year, the responsibility of keeping the team around long-term has shifted from the Maloofs to the city itself.
After watching the Sonics leave Seattle for the bright lights (and new arena) of Oklahoma City, Sacramento would be foolish to put off building a new home for the Kings for another year. The NBA has proven that it will move a franchise if a modern arena is not provided, and the Maloofs are clearly ready to do the same.
Mayor Kevin Johnson has pledged to make a new arena his number one priority. Now it is time to put up or shut up and watch the team leave.
In this era of the NBA, with relocation a common point of discussion, Sacramento should consider itself lucky to have gotten this second chance at keeping its team. This is likely the result of the bad publicity the league received following the Sonics' move. But there will be no third chance.
For Sacramento, keeping the Kings is a now or never proposition.
The $10 million raised by Mayor Johnson is a nice gesture of good faith. But it will take much, much more than a little good faith to convince the Maloofs to stay. It will take more than a new arena even.
The city will have to prove its loyalty to the team once again. One of Sacramento's biggest advantages as a small market is the city's passion for basketball. What the city may lack in the TV and advertising revenue departments, it must make up for in ticket and merchandise sales.
With support for the team understandably wavering in recent years, the Maloofs have rightfully grown concerned. The are going broke as it is, and keeping your NBA franchise in a city that doesn't seem to care about it is bad business for anybody.
So Kings fans must ignore the fact that the Maloofs have failed to put any effort into producing a competitive, unique product. We must ignore the fact that they threatened to move the franchise. Instead, we must focus on the bright spots. If we don't, and support for the team isn't there in 2012, the Maloofs and the NBA will likely not give Sacramento another chance.
No matter whose fault this debacle is, no matter how great the city's distaste for the Maloof family has become, this issue is now larger than owners vs. city. It is time to focus on the bigger picture and keep the Kings in Sacramento for the foreseeable future.
So focus on the positives, Sacramento. DeMarcus Cousins could be an absolute beast and has franchise player written all over him if he can keep his head on straight. Tyreke Evans is a unique talent who could be a special player in the right situation. The team is young. And with youth, there is possibility, slim as it may be.
For Sacramento, this is it: winning time. A new arena needs to be built. A young team needs to be supported. There will be no next time. If we fail, there will be no Sacramento Kings.
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