[Insert obligatory "Be Nice to This First-Time Fan Poster" warning here.]
Just weeks ago, I was under the illusion or delusion that the Kings weren't going anywhere - that the hurdles to a new arena would get conquered gradually, and that we'd have that new arena in a couple years while the Maloofs waited patiently. A great deal of this was wishful thinking, I'll admit, since the Kings were the very first sports team I'd ever followed (and even that was only because of a math project in 2000 when I was 12).
A lot has changed in the last few days, thanks to the Maloofs' request for an extension to the deadline to file for relocation. While this is not the worst-case scenario (which would have been the actual act of filing for relocation), this is very serious news - the first confirmation from the Maloofs themselves that they're serious about going to Anaheim.
All hope is not lost, but the certainty is gone and the delusions are shattered. A conversation with my mom after work today was rather telling; the first words out of her mouth were, "I might have to pick a new team now," and this was coming from a die-hard Kings fan since 1985. That's longer than I've even been alive.
I'll understand if nobody else wants to think about this topic yet, but I have to admit...I'm not throwing in the towel yet, and I'm not losing an ounce of fervor in rooting for the Kings night in, night out, but I'm starting to wonder about what to do if and when the Maloofs do decide to relocate the team.
I've provided a summary of the major options after the jump.
1. Anaheim Kings - "I'll follow that team, no matter where it goes."
We've put about a year and a half into watching 'Reke develop (I think/hope), and Cousins is an exciting prospect. (He's certainly a provocative one, to say the least.) This team may very well be going places soon - hopefully in the figurative sense. After all the bad basketball we've had to sit through, we might as well have something to show for it.
And, in the end, there's something to be said for team loyalty.
2. Golden State Warriors - "They're closest geographically!"
As has been pointed out in other threads, Sacramento boasts a fair number of Bay Area/East Bay transplants with ongoing personal ties to the area. For the rest of us, the lack of a football or baseball team means we're already rooting for the '49ers, Raiders, A's or Giants anyway - why not complete the trifecta?
The Warriors have a decent core that could make the playoffs in 2012, and it's not too long of a drive to see them live. For those among us who put a lot of stock in rooting for the NorCal team, Golden State is the way to go.
Like the Warriors, the Clippers have a promising young core, this one centering around the dominant big man who could have been ours. For Kings fans still stinging from the playoff losses of 2000, 2001 and 2002, myself included, the Clippers also offer the unique advantage of a built-in rivalry against the Lakers. If you can't root for the same team, you might as well root against the same team...right?
I can't think of any other team with so many ties to the Kings' glory days. For sure, this arrangement isn't going to last very long. Brad Miller's a short-term solution to a long-term problem for the Rockets, and Adelman's days may very well be numbered if the Rockets don't improve next year (though one can hardly fault him, and this is honestly just me saying something for the sake of having something to say).
That being said, nothing makes change easier than a little familiarity. It's hard to root for a bunch of strangers, but not so hard to root for a bunch of strangers on the same side as your old friends.
Come to think of it, it would also be pretty sweet to finally watch Kevin Martin scorching teams for 30 in the playoffs.
5. Other NBA Team (Please Specify).
6. NCAA Hoops - "I'm just sick of this NBA nonsense..."
I've known people who prefer the less star-driven nature of college basketball, fans who consider college hoops to be "true basketball." You don't have to worry about contracts, trades, free agency (or relocation...) - just straight-up basketball.
7. Nobody - "...No, scratch that, I'm just sick of basketball."
...And I've also known people who don't care so much for the sport at all, but like having a home team to root for. If you're one of those people, nothing can replace the Sacramento Kings.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder - "We've spent the last year or two praying for the Kings to become the next OKC Thunder...might as well root for the real thing now..."
Ok, so this is more of a joke than anything else. However, it's always amused me how often Kings fans have cited the Thunder example over the last year.
In conclusion, I realize this will strike a lot of fans as giving up too soon. The Maloofs have not filed for relocation, these ICON efforts may very well pan out, and damn it, the Kings are still playing at Arco Arena! (Er, Power Balance Pavilion). For what it's worth, the Kings are going to be my one and only basketball team until the day it's officially announced that they're bolting town.
However, I know I'm not the only Kings fan wondering about the what-ifs already. A lot has changed in just the last week, rocking our faith in the long-term viability of this franchise in this city. Despite my proclamation, "F---- the Maloofs," I personally don't blame them - while we're only 0 for 1 in efforts to get a new arena, the fact is that at this point, we should be 0 for 3 or 0 for 4 (or, heck, why not 1 for 3?). It shouldn't have taken so long for serious arena efforts to get underway.
Regardless of the facts, we can't change where we are at this moment - and someone like me can't help but ponder the worst-case scenario. I don't expect many recommendations, and I hate the fact that my very first fan post on this blog has to cover this topic. I figure, this is just a chance for me to get a sense of the fan base's pulse on what to do should the worst transpire. Nothing more, and perhaps a great deal less. Amen.