There are moments in Kings history that I will never forget: Horry's shot, Bibby's answer, C-Webb's knee, Christie's punch.
2013 added more to the memory bank, both painful and joyous. In terms of sheer importance to this franchise, 2013 was the biggest year for Sacramento in the team's history.
I still remember exactly when I heard the Wojnarowski report almost a year ago that the Maloofs were nearing an agreement to sell the team to Seattle-based investors. It felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. This wasn't the way it was supposed to end, not after the successful fight against an Anaheim relocation in 2011. The Maloofs, we had been told, were not ever going to sell the team. That's the one thing we'd been led to believe about them, even after all the other betrayals. Alas, the team wasn't for sale until it was, and nobody in Sacramento was offering anywhere near the money that Seattle was.
I'll be honest. My faith was shaken for a little bit there. I remember on Jan. 21st, 2013 when the sale was officially announced, I was driving back up from Los Angeles where I had been visiting a friend. It was a long car ride. I just couldn't believe it was happening. I spent much of the ride trying to call everyone and anyone who had inside info on what the outlook for us was and the vibe I got from almost everyone I called was "It's not looking good".
But we weren't going to just lie down and take it. If the Kings were really leaving, if they were really going to become the new Seattle Supersonics, we weren't going to just let them go without a fight.
Mayor Kevin Johnson and David Stern were the big heroes here: Johnson for being the leader of the effort in Sacramento, and Stern for allowing us a chance at redemption.
It's absolutely incredible what Kevin Johnson was able to do in such a short amount of time. In mere months, an investor group was found that was willing (and more importantly, capable) of matching Seattle's offer for the team to keep them in Sacramento. An arena plan, one that was even better for the city than the one the Maloofs reneged on in 2012, was put together and passed by the City Council. All parts of Sacramento from politicians to local business leaders came forward to show the NBA that Sacramento still cared, that Sacramento was the only home the Kings would ever need.
And in the end we won. The NBA voted down relocation and the Maloofs sold the team to Vivek Ranadivé's group.
2013 also saw the first time I've ever cried at a basketball game. The 2013 Home Opener was unreal. The pre-game festivities had a carnival atmosphere akin to what I would expect to see at an All-Star game. The opening introductions were about as emotional as you can get at a basketball game, joy compounded with relief, relief that this Kings team, as Vivek said, was our team and here to stay.
We said goodbye to some long time Kings in 2013 as well. By far the biggest departure was former General Manager Geoff Petrie. Petrie had been the longest tenured GM in the NBA and was responsible for assembling the greatest teams in Sacramento Kings history. While I thought it was time for him to go for some time now, I'm thankful for what he did accomplish while he was here and for the memories those teams gave me.
We also saw the departure of former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans in a sign-and-trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. Evans was, for better or for worse, one of the Kings best players the last few years and a fun guy to root for.
Looking forward, the Kings future is looking as bright as it's ever been. DeMarcus Cousins has legitimately turned into one of the best big men in the NBA and is still years away from his prime. Isaiah Thomas continues to show that height can't match heart. Ben McLemore is raw but shows flashes of star potential. The Kings new front office, led by Pete D'Alessandro, is making bold moves like acquiring Derrick Williams and Rudy Gay. Another top draft pick is likely on its way in June. Barring a potential ballot measure, a new downtown arena could see its groundbreaking in 2014.
2013 was a huge year for Sacramento. Here's to 2014 and the next 35 years being just as big.
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