This was written in response to Zach Harper of Cowbell Kingdom’s hopeful post on his city’s chances of retaining the Kings by building a new stadium. While reading his post, it was hard not to hear haunting echoes of the long-shot plans and contingencies imagined by my fellow Seattleites in the year or two before the voracious darkness in Clay Bennett’s soul consumed our city.
Dear Sacramento Kings Fans:
I haven’t been following the stadium issues your community has faced in recent years, but as the situation grows dire, let me lend you some hard earned advice: pray.
It may not be what you want to hear, but the reality is there’s little else you can do. Trust me, I’m speaking from my own surreal experience of staring slack-jawed as the Sonics fled town trailing the bloody entrails of Seattle’s most loyal fan base.
Although relocation now feels like a faint possibility, it’s more like a train whose headlight is only now rounding into view. Sooner or later you’re bound to notice that you’re tied to the tracks. If you get rescued, it won’t be because you wriggled out of your ropes. You have nearly zero agency in keeping your team—you know, unless you can elect public officials for whom a relatively poor economic investment is a top priority.
The NBA does. not. care. Ok, so maybe the NBA cares a little bit about fans (and charity and China), but only in so far as any good business cares about cultivating customers. To NBA Corp, your memories of Mike Bibby’s fearless performances and Chris Webber’s terrified “performances” aren’t worth the Ahmad Rashad-studded Inside Stuff tapes on which their legends live.
They say that sports business is only good business when it’s more than a business. Well, my hope is that you’ll never know the business end like millions of Sonics fans do today.
I mean, I’m sure you all remain confident that your *sarcasm alert* swift-moving, sports-crazy public officials will get something done by collaborating with your uber wealthy owners.
I bet you’re thinking: “I get it, guy…you lost the Supes and now you want our team, huh? You #$@%! VULTURE! You’ll NEVER have the Kings!! NEVEEEEEERR!!”
Relax, my cowbell jangling brethren.
After losing Durant, I’ve decided I wouldn’t want to receive a team with a great young player that the old fan base would be forced—A Clockwork Orange style—to watch blossom into a national hero. You have an exciting cluster of young talent that I—probably—couldn’t ever cheer for with a clean conscience. Rather, I just want to give you a heads up on what’s possible (probable?), and encourage you to enjoy the Kings as much as you can this season.
Because the sad truth is that whether the Kings stay or go won’t be decided by your love or devotion to the franchise or even the NBA. It will depend on higher powers.
Good luck, and may David Stern have mercy upon your souls.