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My Letter To Joe And Gavin

Given the most recent news out of Natomas, I wanted to compose my thoughts on why I think it's important for Joe and Gavin Maloof to hear us out. We're all showing up to the game on Monday -- standing room only tickets available, by the way; call 888-91-KINGS or visit the box office to avoid fees -- and we want them to see us and hear us. But what exactly do I want to tell them? So I wrote a letter and sent it to them this morning. I pasted the text below the jump.

Dear Joe and Gavin,

I'm Tom Ziller, the founding editor of and a purple-hearted Sacramento Kings fan since the late '80s, when my family moved to Northern California from Baltimore. I watched Duane Causwell miss free throws. I watched the news reports after Bobby Hurley's accident. I remember every bright new hope that the former management team trotted out, and I remember how things changed when you took over. I remember the first playoff series win. I remember Webb dropping John Stockton like a bad habit. I remember the exhilaration of a Game 7, and the crushing suffocation of that loss. I remember seeing you on SportsCenter, dying just like I did. I remember thinking even then, even through the tears, that those guys - you guys - really were just like us: fanatics.

I still think that. I see the pain on your faces during every heartbreaking loss, and the unyielding joy when things break right. Gavin, your fist pumps are legendary. You're just like us, hanging on every dribble, sweating every single possession. Even with the roster in full rebuild mode for three years now, you're there, living and dying on every shot. Just like us.

Times have been hard in every way: with the team's performance, with the local economy, with continued struggles to get an arena built. It's a perfect storm of bad right now, and I understand your frustration with city officials, with the business community and with the circumstances that have led to the franchise's situation. When news broke that you had talked to Anaheim about relocation, I wasn't mad. I was sad - very sad; I've hardly slept since All-Star Weekend because of the relocation story - but I empathize. I understand your frustration.

But you have to know that what you have in Sacramento -- an incredibly passionate, smart and committed fan base -- won't be waiting for you in Orange County, where the Ducks rank near the bottom of the NHL in attendance, where basketball fans already have allegiance to the Lakers or Clippers, where there are thousands upon thousands of other entertainment venues to compete with. What you have in Sacramento, even after the bad seasons, is rare. Not every city is an NBA city. Not to cast aspersions, but Anaheim is not Oklahoma City, where the fans were primed and pumped for basketball. Look at Memphis, who grabbed the Grizzlies when Vancouver failed financially. How's that gone? Look at Newark, with a beautiful arena and great civic pride. How's that gone? Moving does not guarantee success; in fact, moving to a city like Anaheim, with an 18-year-old arena, two local NBA teams already and unlike OKC no grassroots fan-driven push for a team, might be much more of a risk than staying in Sacramento. (Add in the potential for a lockout, and that's no way to start a new era, is it?)

I see the pain on your faces during every heartbreaking loss, and I see the same thing among the thousands of fans inside ARCO Arena, and I know tens of thousands of fans watching at bars and home are feeling the exact same emotions. I know I do. Sign Lady does. Sacramento is rare in its earnest passion, and it's only possible because we're all in it together, every night. Without fans screaming their heads off, bodies rising and fall with each shot, it's not going to be as special for you. If you turn around from your courtside seats on the next great Tyreke Evans buzzer beater, and you see a crowd with no history with the Kings, with no passion for the team or the players or the game, how is that going to make you feel? The corporate boxes might be full, and the sponsor banners hung neatly around the arena. But the only emotion in that gym is going to come from you and from the players. You'll miss us. You'll miss that which helped make the Sacramento Kings great: the fans who won't stop caring. Fans who were, and are, a reflection of you.

Monday's game against the Clippers is almost sold out. I hope you'll be there to hear our plea. And I hope you'll consider staying one more year so that you can fully hear the proposal by David Taylor and ICON. I hope you'll consider staying one more year to give Kings fans a chance to show you how much we desperately want you to stay. I hope you'll consider staying one more year so we can drop the drama with Mayor Johnson and work together to finally - finally! - find a solution.

We can do this. Give us this chance, Joe and Gavin.

With hope,

Tom Ziller

Don't let Thursday's blow-up distract us from our positive message. This is about showing how much we care, not about showing how angry we are. Don't give up.