To be a fan of the Sacramento Kings is to endure anguish, confusion, and disappointment.
On April 13th, 2009, my girlfriend had purchased lower-level tickets for me to see the Sacramento Kings visiting the Denver Nuggets. It was an amazing early birthday present. A couple hours before we left for the game, we found out she was pregnant.
Finding out you're going to be a father is a lot like being a fan of the Kings during the NBA Draft. At first there is a sense of not understanding what has just happened. Then comes fear. At a certain point you accept what has happened. And then you get excited at the idea of it all.
I'm ecstatic to become a father. But I've struggled with one very important question: Do I want my child to be a Kings fan?
We're fans due to a variety of reasons. Some of us were born in or near Sacramento. Some of us got hooked by a specific player. Some of us fell in love with the golden days of 1999-2002. Some of us might have been inducted by family ties. Regardless of why we became fans, we stay fans because we hope that someday we'll be rewarded. Kings fans in particular have struggled a lot. I'd rather not recap the struggles, because after the disappointment some fans felt during this draft I fear that I would push a few folks over the edge and cause a major incident.
But we hope for the payoff. We look forward to the Kings winning an NBA Championship, and being able to say that we were there through it all. A fairweather fan of the [redacted] cannot appreciate how much a Championship would mean to a Kings fan. But this joy would be produced from pain, struggles, and disappointment.
I've wondered to myself if I want to put my child through that pain. Do I want him (I'm going to say him, although my girlfriend insists that it is a 'her') to expect to be disappointed? I live in Colorado, so it isn't easy to be a Kings fan. My friends laugh at my team. The Kings are never on television. If it wasn't for this site, I'd be terribly out of touch with the day-to-day events of the team. What kind of fan experience is that?
The Kings had the 4th pick last night. Griffin, Thabeet and Harden had all been taken, according to our plan. My cousin in Sacramento texted me, saying that things had gone according to plan. Rubio had fallen to us. My response? I told him I wasn't going to celebrate until I heard Rubio's name called. What kind of reaction is that? Everything went to plan, and I was expecting to be let down. Do I want my child to know that pain?
I've always trusted Geoff Petrie. It's the greatest thing about being a Kings fan. Last year I wrote a piece defending the pick of Jason Thompson with the 12th pick. I wrote about how I trust that Petrie knows more about basketball than I do. I wrote about how if Thompson proved the naysayers wrong, we'd love him forever. This season I detested any notion of trading Thompson for the chance to draft Rubio. Thompson validated Petrie, as he's been validated so many times before. And yet again this year I felt like I couldn't believe what Petrie had just done.
My initial reaction was that this was the time when Petrie was wrong. At this moment, I still feel this way. But just like Hawes and Thompson, like Williams and Stojakovic, like Turkoglu and Wallace, I'm ready to be proved wrong. I want to be proved wrong.
I was horribly disappointed, but I still hold out hope. How many fans can say that after this draft? Do Minnesota fans have any faith that Kahn knows what he's doing? Do Memphis fans trust that Thabeet was the best choice? Do they feel that confidence, year after year?
As a majority, we're disappointed. Some were never sold on Rubio, but many viewed him as the guy for us. But we still believe. This may be Petrie's tipping point. It was a high profile pick where he went against the common logic. Not unusual for Petrie, but it is on a bigger stage.
So back to the question at hand, would I want my child to be a Kings fan? Yes. It is painful now, but if my child can enjoy that redemption with me when the Kings win a Championship it will all be worth it. If it happens when the child is 5 years old, it may not mean as much to the kid, but it will mean a lot of great things to me. If it happens when he's 20, it will mean a lot to the kid, and a ton to me. I'd be 46 at that point. That would be a long time to have waited, but it would suddenly all be worthwhile. I'd love to be able to share that moment with my child, and have my kid understand the importance, well, it's one of the greatest things I can imagine.
Being a fan of a small market team is painful, but it comes with great potential for reward. No pain, no gain, and all those other lessons our fathers taught us. I'd love to share those lessons.
Yes, I want my child to be a Kings fan, for better or for worse.