(Editor's note - Moved to the front page by popular...and appropriate demand.)
I've been meaning to write this post for a long time. Since this relocation saga began I've always dreamed of the day I was going to write about the Kings staying and how the fight us, fans, put on was one for the ages. And they are, staying, and it was, a great fight, and after almost two weeks of celebrating I think it's time to write some words. The excitement and emotions have died down a bit but it's time to give some thanks, remember some cool moments, and get ready for what's next, because make no mistake about it, this was just one battle we won; there's still a war to win.
For the past week I've been trying to gather my thoughts on the topic but just couldn't get this thing started. Tonight (now last night, I started this Friday night), while going back and reading a bunch of relocation related posts (all the way back from February to today) I finally got that needed inspiration. This post will probably end up being fairly long so patience may be required but I think it will be a good way of closing this chapter of the book, at least for me, and moving on to the next one, probably the most important one.
When I attended my first council meeting (back in January probably) I was just there because I thought I needed to take more of an active role in this whole arena situation. Obviously at the time none of us knew how serious it was going to become so I guess it was good timing on my part; lucky me! That first time I went to the meeting I met Blake Ellington and his wife Candace, got my Here We Stay shirt, and never looked back. I remember being a little disappointed that not a lot of fans showed up that night but was happy to get a bit more involved. Couple weeks after I attended my second city council meeting, broke the news that ICON/Taylor were going to work on a feasibility plan for an arena, and went home hoping for the best. Then came February and the All Star break and the real 'fun' began...
Let's try to summarize the events of the past couple months (some links included). If I'm not mistaken it was Aykis or Ziller that came up with the idea of selling out a game to show our support for the Kings and try to convince the Maloofs to stay in Sac. We sold out the game against the Clippers, we chanted our asses off, we went nuts, we made fools miss FTs, and we brought back the real Arco Thunder once again. (Note: If you want to read about the planning of some of these events, just check my fanposts from the past months, there's some good stuff in there too). Then we rallied outside of City Hall, and then went inside to tell our City Council exactly how we felt and urged them to continue to fight for us and our team. Sometime around these dates we experienced the disappointment of an extension to the relocation deadline, the trademarking of the Royals name, the voting of bonds by the Anaheim City Council, and the introduction of a certain Saucy Youngfellow and his delicious pie to our lives. Then we failed to sell out the game against OKC BUT still made our voices heard with the Thunder's owner, and future chair of the relocation committee, in attendance. And then we sat after the end of the Lakers game, and Grant and Jerry cried on TV, and we chanted and chanted until the players came out to acknowledge the crowd still standing, half an hour after the game had ended. That night we all probably cried a bit, or a lot, listening to Tesla and thinking it was all over.
And then we waited and waited. One day they were gone, the next day we had hope. On Mondays we had a chance, but on Wednesday those moving vans were ready to go. Mayor Kevin Johnson went to NY to plead our case to the BOGs and he represented well (understatement here). KJ dropped a bomb, a Burklebomb, and all of a sudden things began looking up for our little town. We used that momentum to paint the whole town purple with Clay Bennet and the NBA in Sac and then the business community stepped up in a huge way and showed the NBA da money. Throughout all this, we debated the merits of a move to Anaheim some more, and then a bit more, and then just a bit more for good measure, and continued to wait. After a couple more days of speculation finally on Monday, May 2nd, the Sacramento Kings were officially staying where they belong for at least another year. Here We Stayed!
This timeline obviously doesn't really do justice to the rollercoaster we have all been riding for the past 3 months. It was a pretty emotionally painful time with crazy ups and downs but somehow most of us were able to endure and continue to work through it. In the end we were able to keep going and enjoy the final decision. Lucky for some of you, giving up and quitting was easier so good thing you accepted the reality that they were gone early enough and proved to be right because you were always so much better than all of us...... yeah, about that!! (Thank you know-it-alls, you kept me going)
There are so many people that deserve a thank you from all of us but before we even get there how about we give OURSELVES a bit of a pat on the back. WE did this, guys and gals; the fans stepped up and were a part of the Kings staying in Sacramento. How much of a role we played? I think we were really big, but I'm not going to have a debate about it. I'm happy knowing that we played a role and we accomplished our goal. Don't ever let anyone tell you what you did didn't make a difference. You know, that's all I kept hearing throughout this whole process: "you're wasting your time," "you have to move on," "they're gone, they're only trying to get more money out of you," "you can't always have what you want," "nothing that you do makes a difference." I even had people laughed at me on twitter after posting something about the Kings not being gone yet. The internet smart asses wanted to predict the fall before the battle and they were proved wrong. WE proved them wrong and we proved that no matter how much the odds are against you, there's always that one small chance that you can get to where you want to be. If you work hard enough, and care enough, maybe you'll get lucky (and get the NBA on your side) and actually win the battle. And that's exactly what we did. Remember that as we move forward with this Sports and Entertainment Complex thing.
Thanks to my Here We Stay family; we are now a family for sure. Thanks to Blake for getting this whole thing started back in October. Thanks for realizing that it was time for the fans to step up and using that sense of urgency to get this going. You've been a hell of a leader. Same goes for Candace. She's a trooper just for taking all of our crap and probably sacrificing a lot of time with you. Not to mention the cool designs she made for the Here We Stay logos and ads.
Thanks to Ziller for giving us a forum to discuss our team and for using that forum to get the word out there about Here We Stay. It really all started to take form at Sactown Royalty, and none of this would've happened if we didn't have a place like this to plan, discuss, and simply make shit happen. Thanks to Aykis as well. You both, with your amazing writing, helped this whole movement from the beginning. Props to Aykis for coming up with the Here We Stay name too. Yet another trademark he won't get any money for.
Thanks to James Ham for being a voice of reason and a go getter from the very beginning. James and I have spent countless hours on the phone discussing every single freaking angle of this whole relocation thing. Dude talked me off the ledger a couple times when I needed it, and I can proudly say that during my anniversary vacation, I probably talked to him as much as I talked to my wife. And on that note, thanks to her for being the most amazing and supportive wife I could have ever asked for. I'm a lucky guy.
Thanks to all the guys that joined us along the way. Kfipp has been a soldier from the very beginning and he's now probably more popular than any of us. Dude is a twitter celebrity and his photoshops and videos have been shown all over town. SactownMike has been another guy that showed support from the very beginning. He was the one behind the Sac Bee ad and led our City Hall rally back in March. And then there's Ivan. There is no way Here We Stay would've had the success we had if it wasn't for this guy. The signs, posters, and banners are a symbol of who we are. We've made shirts from his designs and you will continue to see his posters around the arena for years to come. You truly don't get enough credit, Ivan.
Thanks to some of our StR members too. Section, if I'm not mistaken, was a big contributor to get those Here We Stay t-shirts in the very beginning. LLTG has been another soldier who was there for every action we've had. G helped me get the ticket giveaway for HWS night 2 started. Soccerbum for helping me get some posters for HWS 2. Thank you every StR member who attended a HWS night, or our rallies, or our celebrations, or those who gave money to buy tickets, or those who supported us from Stockton, Lodi, LA, Portland, Virginia, Texas, Australia, the Netherlands, China, Japan, Israel, and everywhere else in the world. Every positive comment counted, every encouraging word kept us going, and I hope you all feel part of this.
Thank you to all volunteers who emailed me and helped Here We Stay during our games and rallies. Never had I used my email this much and I enjoyed every second of it. It is really because of them that we were able to execute all of our plans. You see, Here We Stay is just a group of fans who are planning and discussing what to do behind the scenes. But none of this stuff would be possible if it wasn't for the fans who showed up early to help hand signs, banners, and fliers. Wouldn't have been possible without those who actually come out to the events, who are loud and supportive, and continue the fight in a positive manner. I like to think Here We Stay gave fans a platform for their voices to be heard, the rest was all done by the fans themselves; so thanks again for that.
Huge thanks to Carmichael Dave for being a fan just like all of us. Thanks for stepping us, creating Here We Build from nothing, and helping us build this momentum that made it impossible for anyone in this city to ignore us. You are a big leader and we feel your passion and appreciate the hard work you, along with a couple other guys in the HWB movement, put into all of this. Team work all the way.
Thanks to Alex in NY for leading the dozen or so Kings fans in our "Here We Stay NY" branch. Watching a video of Kings fans in the other side of the country, chanting for our team and delivering those letters to the NBA was amazing to see. Hope you all feel part of this as well and hope you can all get together at MSG next year when the Sacramento Kings are visiting and winning yet another game at the Garden.
Thanks to our mayor Kevin Johnson. He was a real hero in this whole thing. He kept his cards close to his chest, developed a winning strategy, and delivered the game for us. His performance was clutch. Just for the record, I stand by what I said about him during the 'slow death' blog post. I still don't know if this was all planned from the very beginning, but I still didn't think he needed to come out every week with a bit of a pessimistic take on our situation. Obviously that now doesn't mean anything and I am more than happy to say that I was wrong and that he was indeed ready to continue the fight. And what a fight he put on. We don't keep the Kings if KJ isn't our mayor... period! It's an honor to have him as our leader and I'm ready to go to war with him.
Thanks to all other city leaders who made this happen. Thanks to senator Steinberg for stepping up and drafting legislation that would've help prevent the Kings to move to Anaheim. Thank you also to the group who organized the signature drive down in Anaheim to have the bonds issued by the City Council to go to a public vote. And thank you to the council woman in Anaheim who made fun of our cowbells.... just because. We have cowbells and we get loud... deal with it! Now go spend your salary on botox and face lifts.
Thanks to the Sacramento media for helping us in our efforts by both keeping us informed and by also giving us a space in which we could share our plans and goals. Thanks to the Rise Guys (I still want to meet you guys, I missed my chance at Here We Rally). These guys are heroes to me too. They gave Ziller a lot of airtime and have always been very supportive and even appreciative of our efforts. In a way I also have to thank Grant Napear. I don't agree with his radio personality but I never doubted he wanted to keep the Kings here; he just had an odd way of showing it. Anyway, I'll just get it out of the way and thank Grant too.
Thanks to Ryan Lillis and Tony Bizjak for the amazing coverage from New York and in Sacramento. Thanks to Jim Crandell too. I know a lot of you don't like Jim that much but he was the very first media guy to jump on board with Here We Stay for the game against the Clippers. Whether you like his style or not, he was always helpful and we appreciated that. Thanks to Ryan Yamamoto and the News10 crew as well. As always, thanks to Sam Amick for all the great articles and for being a cool guy every time I've gotten a chance to talk to him in person. See, Sam and I have a special bond: both times I've talked to him I asked him the same question before we went our own ways, "So, it's not over, right?" to which he replied both times "No, it is not over." That's all I needed to hear, Sam... thank you!
Thanks also to coach Westphal and the players. This doesn't need much explanation. They couldn't officially do or say anything but they still found ways of showing their support and were class acts through this whole ordeal. Now we should love them even more. Thanks to former players too. Chris Webber, Doug Christie, Scott Pollard, and Bobby J; you're family, guys.
Thanks to Thunder Valley for hooking it up with a place to celebrate last Friday. Also thanks to Hot 103.5 and our guy Jay Marzz for DJing and for being a huge supporter of Here We Stay. If it's not obvious by now, this was a community effort.
I am fairly sure I'm forgetting some people here but I'll be happy to add anyone if I remember them later on. If you think I missed someone bring it up to my attention too. Heck, it'd be nice if you could all use this space to thank some people as well.
On a more personal note and as corny as it may sound, I do want to thank everyone because as much as it has been crazy to go through all of this I have also benefited tremendously. I've said this before but I never thought I had this in me. I knew I cared about this team before, but I didn't know it was enough to step up and take on a bit of a leadership role. I'm very proud of myself and the experience has definitely helped me grow as a man. No doubt in my mind I'm a different person today than I was 3 months ago.
And this was always one of my reasons to continue. All of the naysayers and 'realist' didn't understand what it meant to fight because they didn't know how it felt. From the very beginning, this thing felt special; like I was really making a difference no matter how small. I guess sometimes you just have to do things for yourself, because no matter the outcome, the journey is more important and you can't see that unless you actually walk the path. It's easy to talk, much harder to walk. That criticism almost broke me a bunch of times but it also added fuel to the fire and not only me, but we all took advantage of it to keep pushing, to keep fighting.
It's crazy to me that now I personally know a lot of people in the organization. I've met national writers and have had conversations with them about basketball; that just blows my mind. I have phone numbers I never thought I would have. It's unbelievable to realize I just shared the stage with the owners of the team and the mayor of our city, with me being there with a bunch of other deserving individuals being honored in front of 6,500 people. We've been on videos, newspaper articles, and ads. It just blows my freaking mind. It has never been our goal to be out in the public eye. If you ask any of the Here We Stay guys, every single one will tell you they don't want to do a TV interview ever again. Unfortunately, it's very unlikely that will happen. Then again, if that helps to get the job done, we'll be happy to compromise.
Last thing I take from this experience is friends. Here We Stay is now a bit of a family. We have truly gone through a lot in the past 3 months and we have a really cool bond. Same with all of those who have been there from the beginning and have helped us. Celebrating with people that have gone through so much together is definitely one of the best feelings out there. Thanks to the Here We Stay fam and our StR fam (LTTG, Muff, V, Chris the Greek, to name a few) for the good times.
Throughout this whole saga I've received many "thank you's" from many different people. I appreciate every single one of those and they have all humbled me. Getting to talk to random people who are supportive of our cause has been really uplifting and knowing that we, together, went out there and fought for what we loved was the ultimate reward. At the end of the day, the journey was well worth it. The cool thing is that even if the Kings would've gone, it would've still been worth going through all of that. But WE did it and we kept our team. Now WE get back to work. The best way to thank Here We Stay and all other people who fought so hard for months is to join us and to commit 100% moving forward to do what you can to get this job done.
We have our Sacramento Kings for another year and we now know what needs to happen for us to keep them long term: a plan for a new Sports and Entertainment Complex needs to be in place by March of next year. We need to work together and make this happen. Here We Stay and all other movements will continue to lead the way but we still need all the help we can get. If you didn't fully believe in our mission before, you better believe now because it is time to move together and push in the same direction. It's time to truly get up from that couch and get involved. It really is now or never. WE have a bit over 250 days to make a difference; every day counts.
Yes, there are many things we have no control of, but that didn't stop us before, and it shouldn't stop us now. Yes, we do not agree with everything that has gone down, and we are still, understandably, upset about how some things were handled and how some people acted. That doesn't need to change, but at some point, it will need to be put aside to get this thing done. I don't know how the next couple months are going to play out in terms of the SEC situation but I do know that it is an uphill battle and we are going to need every single fan out there to help out. One thing is for sure, we have never had this type of momentum going our way and it is our responsibility to keep it going. We have never had a mayor like KJ who is willing to go the extra mile to get this thing done and it is our responsibility to support him. The more voices we have the louder we become and the easier we can drown all the idiocy being spit at the sac bee comment section and by all of those who can't seem to see past their own homes.
WE kept our Kings for a year, now it's time to keep them forever. It wasn't over in February, it wasn't over in April, it wasn't over last Monday, and it will not be over until we are all celebrating during opening night inside our new Sports and Entertainment Complex. We'll have a preliminary Here We Stayed night opening night next season, but the real one will happen years down the road.
Just remember Why We Fight
We fight because something can be hopeless only if we fail to provide hope. So long as we believe that the universe will smile upon our cause, so long as we believe we will be pinched and woken from this nightmare, so long as there is Tomorrow, we maintain hope. Hey, we survived the Eric Musselman era, right?
If the NBA board of governors shock the world and reject or delay the move ... if Anaheim refuses to budge on a lease or revenue-sharing agreement ... if the Maloofs can't secure the funding to pay off their loan to Sacramento and a relocation fee ... if anything derails what looks so certain, we don't want to be caught flat-footed. If anything happens, we have months -- months -- to mobilize and help push an arena plan through. Whether it's helping convince a prospective local owner that committed fans await, or helping Mayor Johnson canvas neighborhoods to earn support for a hotel and rental car surcharge to help fund the Taylor plan, or drumming season ticket support to make sure PBP is packed from 101 Row AA to 217 Row S -- we will be there, ready to capitalize.
You know how Geoff Petrie, at his best, is ready to pounce on any opportunity? That's us, right now. We hurt, we fume. But we're ready. If it does happen -- if they do leave, we'll be right here. Fuming. Hurting. Fighting for an arena, fighting for a basketball team to return.
We know the odds are long. But if a chance of keeping our Kings in Sacramento exists, we will fight.
The time is now; time to step up and finish the job.