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Being a loyal Kings fan as of late has been tough.
How does one calibrate their support for a team under the following circumstances:
- The team is likely gone sooner than later, as evidenced by the fact that there is no longer a proposed new arena deal, there is absolutely no renovation work taking place at the existing arena (a fresh coat of paint on the roof notwithstanding...epic), long time sponsors are fleeing, and the efforts to associate a sponsor with arena naming rights has apparently hit a snag because no one wants to take a one year deal (this may or may not be true depending on the source of information that you trust, but we're about a month away from the start of the season and I don't see anyone hanging letters on the old girl).
- But the team is still here, and will remain here...until they are no longer here.
- The team, both on and off the court, has become an NBA laughingstock. Remember how we used to scoff at the Clippers? Hello!
- The team has burgeoning all-star-in-the-making DeMarcus Cousins, fan favorite Isaiah Thomas, the tantalizing and mercurial Tyreke Evans, and a very promising rookie in Thomas Robinson.
- John Salmons.
- Keith Smart has me enthused!
- So did Eric Musselman, Reggie Theus and Paul Westphal.
- The Kings are roughly $6 million over the minimum salary cap, which is an improvement over last year.
- The Kings will open the season 28th out of 30 in player payroll, and probably $12 million below the league median.
- This team will compete.
- This team will miss the playoffs for the 7thstraight season.
- Bottom line, this team still belongs to Sacramento.
There are varying schools of thought as to how a Kings fan should navigate these choppy waters. To name a few:
- Separation of Maloof and State! Support the players fully, but boycott the Maloof's completely. The catch here is that to support the players at the games, you have to line the pockets of the brothers. Quite the conundrum. This has led to a couple of sub-cultures:
- Don't go to the games, 100% boycott. This sends a clear message, but at the personal expense of seeing your favorite team live and in person. Watch the games on TV and count down your opportunities to love Jerry and loathe Grant.
- Go, but don't pay for anything other than your ticket. Eat elsewhere, park elsewhere, and if the brothers ever get around to installing pay toilets, crap elsewhere. Call it "boycott lite."
- Enjoy it while it lasts If the Kings leave, it could be a long, long time before the NBA returns to Sacramento. Remember, there still won't be a state of the art arena here. Seattle is entering its 5thseason without an NBA franchise, and while they appear to have a mechanism for bringing an NBA team back to their city, nothing is finalized yet. Once the Kings are gone, that's likely it for the foreseeable future. So if you have an 8 year old kid that just loves the Kings, will you go and make a memory, or will you choose to wait it out, knowing that the odds are that you and your kid will not get that memory back?
- Organize and/or participate in protests Make yourself heard. Let your frustration ooze for everyone to see and share. Non-violent if you please, but spread the word that the city and fan base is/was fully prepared to usher in a new era in Sacramento Kings brothers, only to be denied by a family of carpetbaggers.
- Buy/renew season tickets You have to overlook/ignore so, so much to be in this camp, but the blind focus and loyalty of this group should actually be admired, not admonished. This group is "Rudy" in cash-paying form. I don't know how they continue to do it, but God bless them for their ability to still go to games night after night and enjoy themselves under these circumstances.
- Win Mega Millions, buy team, City of Sacramento constructs statue of you in front of new arena flanked by Chris Webber and Mitch Richmond Pretty self-explanatory, and quite frankly I'm surprised that no one has thought of this earlier.
Recapping, this team is either staying or going, on the upswing or mired in suckitude, and you should either go to a game while you have the chance or stay away in droves.
What is the right answer?
The right answer is follow your heart. The dice have been cast here, and sadly, whatever you determine to do at this point will have little effect on the final outcome. The fans have shown amazing heart and support and yet we have still reached this point. The City of Sacramento constructed an events center deal that enthused the NBA, but not the f*cktard brothers. What happens going forward will happen regardless of your actions, winning Mega Millions and buying the team notwithstanding. The wheels are firmly in motion and we are but bystanders while the brothers continue to plot their exodus. It's their ball, and they're taking it with them. I write this not as one that is giving up. The Kings are here until they're gone. But we've done everything that a community could possibly do to keep its team, and it simply is not enough. When you're dealing with the brothers, it's never enough. Never.
So follow your heart. If that's protesting or boycotting, protest and boycott. If it's taking a loved one to a game, go and enjoy. If it's watching them on TV at a local watering hole, go for it.
Me? I'm guessing that I will attend games if I am invited by friends, which usually means that I buy dinner (outside the arena) and pay for parking (sorry, I'm not going to risk life and limb and park outside the arena and then take on the folks that are projectiling their way into the arena parking lot). If there is an StR or a Cuzizstan night, I'm there, but I won't be organizing them. If the Think Big or Here We Stay folks plan a protest, I'll likely meander down to the arena to assist in whatever small way that I can. I'll watch most of the games on TV, and I reserve the right to pick up the radio feed and mute the TV on any games broadcast by the nauseating duo of Grant Napear and Bill Walton. I will root passionately for the players, and I will carry with me an unhealthy dislike for the disingenuous, lying, conniving majority owners of the Sacramento Kings. And I will celebrate/commiserate with my fellow StR brothers and sisters.
There is really no wrong answer here. We all have to choose the method of celebration and/or mourning that best suits each one of us. And we need to respect each other's chosen method, even if we don't necessarily agree with it. Because we are all in this bunker together. We're Kings fans. And after this is all said and done, the only people that will give a sh*t about us or even remember us in five years is...us.
Go Kings Fans.