(I am admittedly a little drunk, but
I moved to Sacramento when I was six years old, in May of the year 2000. It was a perfect storm of influences that led to me developing a love for the game of basketball that year: newly made friends who liked the sport, a basketball hoop outside of my house, and most importantly, a local team that was really, really fun to watch. If anything sparked my bond with basketball, it was The Team: Vlade and Webber's behind the back passes, Peja's sharpshooting (and his Good Feet commercials!), Bobby Jackson's energy, Scott Pollard's hair (An aside: my family would watch the games together and whenever Bobby Jackson did something, my mom would shout "Bobby Jackson!" My sister, who was two at the time, would raise her fists in the air and shout back: Bobbyyyyy Jackson!" Life is truly a treat.) Not only were they fun to watch, they were really good, and they played the right way. They played with camaraderie and displayed a love for the game that I couldn't help but internalize.
The only thing I remember about the 2001-2002 playoffs was Mike Bibby's bloody nose. I was eight years old, and I was visiting my grandparents, who just happened to live in a suburb of LA, and who just happened to be huge Lakers fans. After the game, I screamed and screamed and screamed. "HOW WAS THAT NOT A FOUL! HE GAVE HIM A BLOODY NOSE!" I wouldn't stop yelling and crying, and I told anyone who would listen (read: everyone in the entire house) about how I was going to write to David Stern and tell him about how it was obviously a foul on Kobe.
Flash forward to today. After knee injuries, flashes of success, a long, dark seven years of irrelevance, and a gut-wrenching few years of relocation attempts, it feels utterly foreign to be hopeful about the future of the Kings. It feels so foreign to legitimately contemplate going after big free agents, making big trades, spending big money. It feels so foreign, and so...great. Is this what being a fan of a real team feels like? Every time I think about the Kings and Vivek, a huge smile etches itself onto my face. I am a Sacramento Kings fan, and for the first time since those long-ago days of Peja and Webber and Divac I can say that with nothing but positive thoughts.
The positivity is infectious; the future is bright. Our team will finally compete again. No more elbows, no more bloody noses, no more Maloofs. We are back, and we are here to stay.