Aside from the big matchups (Lakers and Miami) Arco is half full. Now granted winning would go a long way to filling seats back up. But Sacramento filled the stadium for 15 years of terrible teams. The teams led by Tisdale and Richmond, we rooted for Jim Less and made fun of guys like Dwayne Schinitzes and Dwayne Causwell. We sold out all of those games.
Then we got good. Now while the winning was a blessing, it also was a curse for the future. Expectations rose just as high as the ticket prices. The high ticket prices forced out the fans that were regulars during the lean years giving them a bad taste in their mouth (they waited for the team to get good and now they can't see the team play). Sacramento gans loved to attach to great personalities and the team from the early part of this decade has that in spades. We loved John Barry, we loved Bobby Jackson, and we love Scott Pollard. These were all bench players but they connected with this city. Then we had the Euro group led by Vlade with "little brothers" Hedo and Peja. People loved Christie's hard defense. And I haven't even mentioned Webber and Bibby. And not to be outdone Jason Williams.
But with every trade of these players people got a bad taste in their mouth. These were their players (hell, all of them got standing ovations when they returned with different teams). When John Barry, Bobby Jackson and Scott Pollard were traded in rubbed people the wrong way. They didn't like the business end of it at all. And as an aside, that is why John Brockman was perfect here, even if he was not going to play much. He was an heir apparent to that likable hard working character that this city loved. Why they traded him for Darnell Jackson is baffling to me.
The last thing that killed this city's love for the Kings was the officiating in Game 6 that is infamous. I think many people still feel the league set it up to get the Lakers in. I think the league lost many fans long term in this area after that game.
So when the winning stopped, the personalities became bland, and the ticket prices stayed high the casual fans left, the real fans felt slighted, and the ones angry at the league stopped following altogether. PR gaffs by the Maloofs both in trying to get a new areana, and the cost cutting trades instead of team improving trades have not helped the image of the Kings in the minds of most.
So what now?
Petrie has made some solid picks from the draft. That's a start.
The cost cutting has opened the salary cap up (although we won't use it until after the new CBA, so who knows what that might look like).
Those are good things. But they need to do more to get this city back on board and it can happen too.
As crazy as this may sound, we need to load up on personality, not just talent. That's why again, Brockman leaving was a huge loss to this team. Cousins has some personality, but he is not ready to shoulder the load. Tyreke is not going to be a PR man. If Petrie had gotten his man Jokihm Noah a few years ago he would have been perfect here! Maybe Petrie can pull some magic and make it happen in a trade some way.
The team needs to do targeted outreach to those fans they lost. Not team officials, but the players. Loosing Vlade really hurt us in this category, he was a huge ambassedor to the community and had such a giving heart. He led the way for all the others to join in. Finding a guy in that mold and having the team follow suit would be a huge lift for the PR of this team.
The team needs to find players, a coach, and a system that makes it at least appear they are having fun again. It look as though we were heading in the right direction in this department last year (despite the losses). This year the team looks out of sorts. Where is the joy? Where is the fun? I think people like Pooh Jeter because he brings a little of that 'flair for fun' thing. We need a lot more of that. Tyreke has some flash too when he is healthy. I think that's why this city clamored for Rubio (although in my opinion he would not have lived up to the hype he had). He reminded people of Jason Williams and let's face it, it was Jason Williams that put the Kings on sportscenter and on the map nationally, not Webber.
And one other thing it looks like they are already doing is trying to make King tickets appear affordable again. They really should be making a huge push in the local high schools with these low cost tickets. It's the youth that will continue on and become season ticket holders down the road. I remember back in high school it was affordable to go to a game. Get the young guys in there. Maybe free parking to high school students, something like that.
So if I were Geoff Petrie and made the moves in the off-season (-minus specific players in the upcoming draft as I admittedly do not know many college players). Here's what I'd do.
KINGS get : Chris Anderson and Dan Gallinari
Knicks get : Carmello Anthony
Kings get Ben Gordon
Detroit gets Francisco Garcia and Beno Udrich
Kings get Gerald Wallace and take on Omeka Okafor's contract
Charlotte gets Chris Paul
New Team Look
Starters : Tyreke Evans, Ben Gordon, Gerald Wallace, Demarcus Cousins, and Omeka Okafor
Now we have a team with personality. We have outside shooting. We have a defensive SF. Our bench has toughness, hussle and skill.
And lastly I make a move at head coach (sorry Westphal) and I insert Mike Woodson in at coach.
All a pipe dream I know, but if I were in charge these are moves that I think are reasonable for all parties and definately gets this team jump started in the right direction. I think it gives us an attitude with many of these players and could return a swagger. Gordon loves big shots. Wallace plays 100% every play. We'd have veterns on this team mixed with the young talent. Anderson is a beast and the closest thing to Pollard. I'd love to see this team play. And I think Mike Woodson would get a lot from this bunch. He'd be stable and look at what he did with the Hawks. Woodson was the one who put them on the path to success.
So there's a solution, not just a complaint. What do you all think?