(Disclaimer: I am not literally Chris Hansen)
I don't write many fanposts. Although I do consider myself a writer, I prefer comment threads and conversations to long speeches given from behind a virtual lecturn. And yet here I am.
I am currently sitting in a Noah's Bagel shop on Market Street, in San Francisco. I am looking up at a towering white skyscraper that faces the Bay Bridge and the Embarcadero building. The top floor of this building surely offers gorgeous views of downtown and the rest of the Bay. It just so happens that floor is also occupied by Venture Capital, the firm founded by one Christopher Hansen.
I don't know if Hansen is up there right now, but he will be. The irony hasn't escaped me; I'm down here and he's up there, where in contrast dreams of my beloved franchise are probably up there while his are down here. Its not over yet, but I don't think he is where he hoped to be in his pursuit of the Kings.
I'm wondering how he got here, to San Francisco, when his heart clearly is in Seattle. Why he cares so much to return a franchise to a city he doesn't live in anymore. He's even bought his parents houses here in the Bay Area. Why? Why fight so hard for a city so clearly in your rear view mirror? I can't imagine how grueling this process has been for him. The Thunder may not be Seattle's team, but they have a shared history. Just become a Thunder fan.
Why can't he sympathize with me as a Kings fan? He's trying to rip out my heart and souls much of the same way was done to him. I love my team. Some of my fondest memories are sitting on my late grandfather's lap listening to Gary Gerould on the radio. "Richmond, for three! HE'S GOT THE BUCKET!" In 1998, on his deathbed, I would still pull out the Sacramento Bee Sports section and read out that day's NBA scores. I was nine years old and barely understood I was losing my "dada abu" but I didn't care. Basketball was our favorite passion we shared, and I knew it made him happy. Even today, I watch the Kings as if I'm with my grandfather. Why can't Hansen understand he is trying to bury this memory for good?
As I got older (and as the internet exploded), I joined all the basketball sites to discuss my passion. I found people who love the Kings just as much as I do. Anywhere there is a Kings site and there is discussion, I'm there. I can't remember when I joined Sactown Royalty, but its become something of a home base for me. As I shared all of the ups and downs with my Dad and sisters, I commiserated with all of you, the online Kings community. Going bananas after Bibby's shot in 02 and calling my LA cousins right after. Watching from my grandmother's tiny bedroom with my whole family crammed in as Bibby steals the ball from Ginobili and finds a streaking Martin for a gamewinner. Seeing my dad's grinning face as he pulled out two playoff tickets for Game 4; a few days later screaming "BON-ZI! BON-ZI" with 17,317 fellow Kings fans as Bonzi crams a dunk, slapping Duncan in the face for added measure.
And then leaving.
In 2009 I got to attend my dream school in the Bay Area. For the first time I would leave my home in Sacramento and live elsewhere, even if it was only 90 miles down the road. I graduated and now work in San Francisco. I don't know if I ever will live in my hometown again. But I still visit, still get nostalgic, and still cheer on Sacramento's pride and joy basketball team.
I never believed relocation would happen. It just didn't compute. Basketball was a part of me and I just couldn't comprehend someone trying to take my team away from me. I lashed out viciously in the way a Rhetoric major from Berkeley knows best; written evisceration. The neutral NBA sites I visited became my battleground as I broke down arguments and tore down character. Anyone who believed that the Kings were leaving were misinformed idiots. People told me to just root for the Warriors. Its NOT the same. I'm not in Sacramento anymore but nobody can take the Sactown out of me. Its NOT the same.
Wait... now I get it.
The man in the white skyscraper is ME. While I have Bibby's shot in 2002, he has a championship parade in 1979. Where I fondly remember Kevin Martin's drive in 2006, he fondly remembers Payton going toe-to-toe with Jordan in the 90s. And while my fond memories and narrative have (apparently) been saved by Kevin Johnson, his has been buried by the likes of Clay Bennett and Howard Schultz. Thus the raw emotion. I want to believe I would never support ripping another team from a market; its unethical, its hypocritical, it feeds a broken system that favors only the NBA. But the way I have behaved the last four months, between the veiled barbs, the arrogance dressed as rational discussion, and the line between debate and trolling I flirted with show me crystal clear how flawed of a human being I really am.
So while I can look up at the white skyscraper and hate everything the man inside stands for, I can't guarantee that I would not be in the same position if I was at the top of some San Francisco skyscraper had no Kings. So I get it.
All the Sonics fans I came across on the internet have a story. All are a Chris Hansen. They all personally lost out on their own narrative, like I as a Kings fan almost did (about four times. FTM!!). And so, for all the raw emotion that was unleashed between the two fanbases, I am owning up to my share of the vitriol. To all Sonics fans, I am deeply, truly sorry. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.
And so, I hope we can all move forward. We are all NBA fans, we all love our teams and cities, and we all deserve to have our faith rewarded. I hope we can all move forward, regardless of what any individual has done in the past. No more blog politics, no more Sonics Rising this or Sactown Royalty that. This saga has tested all of us; Kings fans dealing with Maloofian attempts to move the team for over a decade, and Sonics fans dealing with relocation itself for over a decade. We all just want our memories back and a chance to create new ones. We can move forward together, regardless of what happens with the Kings, because we are two sides of the same coin.