Before I begin, I would first like to say I have never been prouder than I am right now of my city. Sacramento has exemplified the "Can Do" attitude thought only to be a myth. From the average citizen that has shown what grassroots can do, to the politician putting their political career on the line, to the business owner sponsoring a freelance talk show host’s mission to spread the gospel of this cowtown: we have all done extraordinary things.
With that said, I believe that this is the moment to sit back, pause, and ask, "What are we selling?"
The NBA is a business. We are constantly reminded of that by our friends from the north. Whether it comes from the argument that there’s a "binding contract" or a history that shows that a passionate fan base can and will be left wondering why; they have let us know how a scorned fan base feels. We have not been through that pain. I hope we never will. But there is validity in their calloused approach, one which we must respect and adapt into our own argument.
Our passion is great, but like everything else in life, only when in moderation. To believe that our ardent pleas to owners, journalist, and trolls is the most effective strategy, is to be the basketball team that lives and dies by the three. Knowing that our audience need only be those who can actually effect this, we must remind ourselves on who they are.
Again, the NBA is a business. The owners in the Association are calculating; hell bent on profitability, growth, and return on investment. So no, they could give a lick about what we as Sacramenteans want. If you believe for a minute that they care about Disney on Ice, the Circus, or any other memories you’ve ever had, you need to wake up from that Christmas Carol daydream you’ve been having and join us in the real world.
Not to say that this passion isn’t a great thing in an argument. It is. It’s great for color. Just like Jerry Reynolds helps make Kings telecast better with Grant Napear, passion gives added depth to an argument. But you would never have just Jerry Reynolds, right? If passion is the whole of your argument as a fan, then the argument is a failed one, because you haven’t stepped outside yourself and tried to find the wants and needs of the Board of Governors. You’ve simply told Jerry to call the game, something the Grant is more experienced, seasoned, effective at. That’s where logic comes in.
Logic is universal and it helps strip away bias so that an argument can also become universal. It’s where we must go to win our argument. Granted, we spend a lot of time using logic on Sonics fans (not to mention the occasional Seattle journalist). But we are spinning our wheels, because we don’t need them to find our argument compelling.
And so we know who we need to sell to (the owners), how we need to sell (with logic), but what do we sell?
For as long as I can remember Sacramento has had an inferiority complex that stems from a lack of identity. Unlike other communities where people flock to hop on the cultural bandwagon, Sacramento is where people have been thrusted together from every corner of the world and told to figure it out. In doing so, we’ve never had a blueprint to form an individual awareness of what we should be. Like a quilt we have a patchwork of identities that have, over time, blended into each other and created something the world might not fully understand. Buy why are we so misunderstood?
Comments from outsiders range from us being a cow town to a bunch of "thugs." So which is it? Is Sacramento the ghetto or the country? Fact is that it’s both, sans the negative stereotypes that degrade the reality on the ground. While some might call us a "petri dish" of culture, grasping for science fiction imagery harkening back to Frankenstein, truth is that we are America’s ultimate melting pot.
Ten years ago this was brought up in a Time Magazine article entitled "Sacramento: Where Everyone’s a Minority." In the piece Ron Stodghill II and Amanda Bower bring up the fact that Sacramento, as diverse as it may be, had issues mingling its various cultural backgrounds. I agree, things are not perfect in our community. It takes time to bring people together, but we have shown strides over the past decade as a community.
Martin Luther King, Jr. called the 11th o’clock hour on Sundays the most segregated hour in the United States. But if there is one thing we’ve shown in Sacramento, it’s that the most desegregated time for us is the 2 hours we spend every few days at a Kings’ game. This lately has been expanded to our city council meeting through the efforts of groups like Crown Downtown.
As I stated before, things take time to coalesce when it comes to meetings of cultures. Basketball has helped us expedite this process. So when Stodhill and Bower state, "Sacramento, then, provides perhaps the clearest view into the nation's future--a glimpse into what our neighborhoods, schools, churches and police forces may look like just a few decades from now," I believe that the effect that the NBA has on that should be told, not just to other NBA cities, but to the world.
Simply put, Sacramento is the future of American society. Knowing this simple fact, you can see why we haven’t had an identity as a city: we’ve been looking back to others for our identity when we are years ahead of every one else. Take pride in this my friends. Own it as a badge, but build upon it everyday knowing that you are creating something wonderful and new.
At the same time, let others know these truths of our town. Let the world know that things will be alright when the realities that have hit us, hit them. It is with this understanding of our place in modern society that we will become, as a city, a beacon of light for the rest of the world. In doing so we revise the American Dream for a new generation and become NBA 3.0.
I don’t believe that this branding of ourselves will be lost on the NBA. Owners will understand the importance of Sacramento as a bridge to the lands of our ancestors. Seeing people in the stands from everywhere around the world will help market the Association to everywhere around the world, just as much as the product on the court.
And if the NBA were to turn their backs on Sacramento, they would be turning their back not only on the future of this country, but the future of their global business, by essentially saying that catering to the rich has become more important to catering to the masses of the world. They would create a two-tiered system, one of the wealthy in the stands, the other less privileged viewing from home. This is a dynamic that might not sell to newly middle class societies abroad, and so Sacramento becomes that bridge to that new global middle class. Sacramento becomes a pivotal part to the future NBA strategy.
So, in closing, my assumptions here might not be agreed to by some, my logic might not be fully congruent, but my attempt is clear. In writing this I choose to get out of the passionate rhetoric that gets us nowhere. For one day, in my spare time between work and family, I have separated myself from the things I have no control over to convince you to do the same. I plead with you to take action, where action might be possible, if not more effective, because many of you have stated that you will do ANYTHING to keep this team, but have you done EVERYTHING?
My humble request is for you, the fans that make this city great, to show that greatness, not through the ease of technology, but through the sincerity of a letter. Go out with your friends; friends, who knowing you, come from different corners of this place we call Earth. Then simply take a picture. And when that picture is printed thirty times over, write on the back of each, "Sacramento knows how to sell worldwide, because we are worldwide. #NBA3.0"
Why? Because we are selling the future of humanity that lives within this great city. With that the NBA will want to sell what Sacramento is and will be.