Morality and the Kings

The following post is a summary of the moral dilemma surrounding the recent attempts to relocate the Kings NBA Basketball franchise from Sacramento, and why the NBA was justified in their decision to keep the Kings in Sacramento.


A) It is wrong to take something from someone else, especially if they need or depend on it.

B) The Kings basketball franchise belongs to and is needed in Sacramento.

Therefore, it is wrong to take the Kings from Sacramento.

Before I dive into the details, there is one general question I would like you to ask yourself.

"What would it take to change my mind?"

In other words, if you are someone who wanted to keep the Kings in Sacramento, ask yourself what it would take for you to change your belief such that you would approve of relocation. Conversely, if you are someone who wanted to relocate the Kings to Seattle, ask yourself what it would take for you to change your belief such that you would prefer the Kings stay in Sacramento...

If you cannot answer the above question, then you are "dogmatic"; there is no point for you to participate in an argumentative discussion on this topic because there is no way to change your mind.

Now let's analyze the argument...

SACRAMENTO'S SIDE: Sacramento Kings fans believe that both (A) and (B) are true, and therefore conclude that the Maloofs (and Seattle's prospective ownership group) were wrong for attempting to relocate the Kings to Seattle.

SEATTLE'S SIDE: Seattle Fans, I think, generally agree that the logic in this argument is valid (evident by their position that the Sonics should have never been relocated), but will also argue that - in the case of the Kings - at least one of the two premises (A) and/or (B) is false.

THEIR ISSUES WITH PREMISE (A): Most people would argue that (A) is true; generally it is agreed that theft is irrational and immoral. However, the counter-arguments are:

  1. In a case where someone has become dependent upon something which is harmful to them. "The arena deal is bad for Sacramento and we'd be doing them a favor by taking the Kings."
  2. It's not "taking" if the person agrees to "give" it away or "sell" it. "The Maloofs have a right to sell to whomever they want."

The logical answer to (1) is that a better arena deal ought to be created, not that the Kings should be relocated. Analogously, one would not conclude "if I was dependent on drugs then I ought to be killed"; relocation is inappropriate and too drastic of a solution to this proposed concern.

A rebuttal of (2) is not as concrete, but the Maloofs themselves have said that they were "stewards of the franchise", which implies that they do not have the right to dictate where the team is located. This notion of "stewardship" is further supported by the league's policy and it's recent vote to keep the team in Sacramento. The Maloofs can sell to whomever they want... in Sacramento. However, if the city of Sacramento had demonstrated itself to be an untenable situation for an NBA team, then it is appropriate to move.


  1. The team does not 'belong to Sacramento' because it was not created there. "But what about Kansas City?"
  2. Sacramento doesn't need a basketball franchise. "There are four NBA teams in California and the Golden State Warriors only 90 minutes away from Sacramento."

Issue (1) can be dismissed because it is absurd: A proponent of relocation should not argue that relocation is wrong.

Issue (2) is also nonsense. California is a bit larger than Washington. Further, if I were to accept the premise that a city does not need multiple sports teams within 90 minutes of its location, then Seattle should lose all but one of their multiple major league sports teams.

Continuing with Issue (2)... In terms of "need", Sacramento would likely be crushed - economically - if it were to lose the Kings. I would argue that this plausibility - by itself - is enough to keep the Kings in Sacramento, let alone relocate it to a city already in possession of three major sports teams. In other words, I can certainly grant that having an NBA team is a luxury and not a necessity (as evidenced by there only existing 30 of them in the whole country), but this logic should apply to sports teams in general; Seattle has three, and Sacramento has one... if Sacramento doesn't "need one", then Seattle certainly doesn't "need four".

Interestingly, of this entire post, I have a feeling that my next statement will be the most controversial.

I've observed that, for a lot Sacramento proponents, the denial of relocation was enough for them to simply forget about Seattle, or even praise and support Seattle's efforts to get a team in the future.

I find that sentiment a strange one... potentially even hypocritical if Seattle tries again to take a team from another deserving city.

Simply put, I fail to see the reason to go through the efforts of claiming that "you were being robbed", and then be content to let the robber get away after they failed to wrong you.

Perhaps I am a bit zealous in my desire for the (even mildly) wicked to be punished for their actions but the most practical use of a society - when it engages in making moral judgments - is to determine appropriate punishment.

While you may not agree that Hansen and Seattle ought to be punished for their actions towards Sacramento, at least try to understand how someone could have this point of view.

I majored in Philosophy and minored in Mathematics at California State University of Sacramento (and graduated with Honors). Therefore, I consider myself knowledgeable and practiced in the matters of Ethics and Logic.

Finally, in the comments, I think it would be interesting to see your "conditions" for when you would alter your own position; for example, if you are a proponent of Sacramento keeping the Kings, what conditions would have had to be in place for you to believe they ought to be relocated?

(This is a FanPost from a member of the Sactown Royalty community. The views expressed come from the member, and not Sactown Royalty staff.)

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