Like many of you, I have been a season ticket holder (partial share) for many years -- this is my 18th season. Prior to that, i was an avid ticket buyer at least as much as the budget would allow, going to as many as half a dozen games per year. I actually sat on a pull down seat against the back wall in Arco I while Arco II was being built.
As i walked into Arco (forgive me Power Balance marketing department) last night, i realized that it was going to by my last Kings game. I don't have any games left this year. I suspect many of you will be having these same feelings in the coming weeks.
Nobody wants to give up hope, least of all me, but I believe hope is all but lost. I am posting this for my own benefit and for those of you about to face the sad goodbye.
For me, I have spent the last 24 hours thinking back on all the great days and nights following this team. I have been very fortunate to have some unique opportunities to see some great games (detailed more fully below) in addition to my own share of our season tickets. Not only that, but my seats were great - Section 108 - Row F - on the visitors end, baseline, 6 rows up. We never considered chances to move because the seats were simply too good.... baseline action is better than center court in my opinion and we were just high enough to get a beter view than court level seats. If you need confirmation, when Jerry Reynolds was not coaching or broadcasting (late 90's as i recall) he sat in our section on the front row (5 ahead of us). Until the economy crapped out, most of the folks around us where also long-time season ticket holders. It sounds corny but it is true...many of us watched each others kids grow from toddlers to college age kids, my son included, during these years.
Some of these moments have been discussed here and in other places. Perhaps my favorite is one that has been mentioned here frequently. The first playoff game against Seattle at home still sends chills up my spine. We all showed up and were seated at least 20 or 30 minutes before the game. There was a nervous energy building that you could feel... then the team came out for warm-ups, the speakers starting blarring "The boys are back in town" and the place went beserk for the whole warmup session. I will never forget the look on the Sonic's players faces watching the reaction. By half-time, i recall walking the concourse and noticing how quiet it was... because we were all exhausted. My favorite moment, by far because it was so uniquely Sacramento.
The next was a personal one. When I first became a season ticket holder i had recently become a single dad. When i finally took my son (4 years old) to a game, the cheerleaders ran out of the tunnel near our seats (they used to come out of the visitors tunnel) and my son said as loud as he could, "look dad, girls!" The section laughed and I was as proud as a father can be.
During the years i actually came to know some of the employees of the Kings, even the Maloofs themselves. During the Lakers series (that still haunts my dreams) a friend who worked in the PR department offered me the opportunity to be a "witness" for the Guiness Book of World Records. Some of you may recall that during one of the games, the Maloofs had a professor from UC Davis come to the game with a noise level decibel meter. For some reason Guiness apparently trusts lawyers, and i was the first one my friend could think of on short notice. The professor and I sat on tiny stools directly behind the Maloofs. I held a small video camera and was supposed to record the reading as the noise rose at different points in the game. Joe and Gavin would frequently ask what the reading was. The professor, professed to not be much of a basketball fan so i told him to hold the camera in one hand and the meter in the other. I was in heaven.
At halftime, i walked down the main aisle behind Kings row to visit my co-season ticket holders (mostly to rub their face in my good fortune) when i noticed Summer Sanders sitting a couple rows back...big fan of Summer back in the day, so naturally I starred at her as i walked down the aisle....bam! walked right into Tyra Banks! She drops her phone, i apologize profusely, she bends over to pick it up and i quickly realize how good C-Webb's life was at the time.
During the playoffs, most of the seats in front of us were closed off for the TV camera. That left us as the first row in the section, In fact, the TV stand is right in front of me now and has given me the chance to see lots of replays on the monitor not available to fans at the game. During one round of a playoff series, they set up a makeshift stage for the TNT show after one of the games direclty on top of the seats in front of me. My son and I sat literally 6 feet from Charles and Kenny as they broadcast the show.
Peja missed the wide open three in Game 7 (end of regulation) right in front of us....I was sure it was going in. Never forget J-Will... simply a magician with the ball. Bibby's shot. The guy who won a car at half-time and ran around high-fiving all the Laker greats (Kareem, Magic, Worthy). The Tizzy-flip, but mostly the Tizzy-smile. The class of L-Train. Vlade and Chris' jersey retirement. Cowbells and the sign lady. I could go on and on.
What has struck me is that i have been to dozens of other events at Arco too. Not one of them is memorable. Not one of them makes me feel nostalgic. I am older now, my son in College and i have his team in the Tournament, so we still have plenty of basketball to keep us connected. Sacramento will survive and so will I but for those who think it doesn't matter...its because they just don't know. Thanks for the memories Arco. Thanks Kings. You will be missed.