I am a Sacramento Kings fan. Just as I was yesterday, and just as I will be tomorrow.
What is it to be a fan? Are we fans of the names on the front of the jersey? Or the names on the back? Often we're fans of both. Just as I am a fan of the Kings, I am also a fan of Kevin Martin. I've defended Martin with more words than I care to think about right now. I defended his defense, or lack thereof. I argued incessantly that he could co-exist with Tyreke Evans (It's worth mentioning that I am still very much a fan of Evans).
Some days, like today, it is hard to be a fan of both the organization and Martin. It is difficult to be a fan of two entities moving away from each other.
All of this begs the question, what does it really mean to be a fan?
I can't recall if I've ever discussed my history as a Kings fan before. In case I have, I'll attempt to keep it brief. I grew up in Sacramento, attended the occasional Kings game, and got excited in years when they could potentially be in the playoffs, but that was about it. I remember being very excited when Richmond was named to the '96 Olympic Team. But it wouldn't be fair to say I was a huge fan. I was a kid, and was still more infatuated with Legos and X-Men action figures. I moved to Colorado for the start of high school, and found that not having the Kings around, I suddenly missed them. I became a much more devoted fan. The Kings were a link to my hometown, and I've been a serious fan ever since.
That bond with the team will always remain (for the purpose of this article, I am not going to acknowledge any possibility of a franchise relocation). For that, I will always consider myself a Kings fan. Regardless of which players come and go, I have that link to the team. I'm sure many of you share similar bonds with the team for various reasons. That's what it is to be a fan of the team.
I'm sure we all know some idiot who says he's a Yankees fan because he grew up in New York, but he mysteriously only talks about the Yankees when they win. Technically, he would be a fan of the Yankees, and he could relate to my link to the Kings. But honestly, if you're a regular on StR during an 18-win season, you barely share similarities at the genetic level with our hypothetical idiot. You're a true fan.
A true fan is devoted to his team through thick and thin. Along the way, you gain attachments to certain players. There are the players you love, the players you hate, and the players that you don't care much about. When you have players you love, and they stay on your team long enough, you become a fan of the player in addition to being a fan of the team. No matter what happens, you like the team and you like the player, even if they go their separate ways. Hell, Richmond went to the freakin' [redacted]s to get a ring, but I'm sure there are a whole lot of Richmond fans reading this today.
To be a fan of a franchise is to be a fan of an ever-evolving idea. From each ending a new beginning emerges. From the end of the Richmond era we saw the beginning of the Webber era. With the departure of Jason Williams we gained Bibby. From the departure of Peja we got Artest, who in turn gave us Donté and Casspi. It is hard, especially if you have an intense passion for certain players, but through it all we remain fans of the Kings.
I was devastated by the trade today. I am a huge fan of Kevin Martin, and that will not change. But I'm also a huge fan of the team. I've always been a staunch supporter of Geoff Petrie. I've chanted "In Geoff We Trust", and now I must stand behind those words. I've spent the whole day trying to come to grips with the trade, trying to see the silver lining. Right now I have my doubts, and I'm still not convinced. But I maintain my faith in Geoff Petrie. I've been wrong so many times before (need I remind anyone of my love for Rubio and my hatred for any pick that was Rubio?) that I must maintain my faith.
Through all of this, I find myself feeling grateful. I'm grateful for the time Martin was on the Kings. Martin was our secret, and now he will be shared with the world. It's like when you love a band and suddenly they become a huge hit. You knew about them first, and while you'll always miss those times when you were one of the select few who knew about them, you're happy to see them succeed. I want nothing but success for Kevin.
I'm also grateful that I feel this faith in the organization. Being a fan doesn't necessarily mean that you trust the organization, it's simply a luxury we can enjoy. I'm glad I'm not a Clippers fan, eternally being let down by Dunleavy and Sterling.
I'm excited to see what Geoff Petrie can do with another high draft pick and enough cap room to try to lure a big name free agent. I worry about who Petrie might sign this summer, but for now, in Geoff I trust.