I love the NBA. I love basketball. And above all else, I love the Sacramento Kings.
I haven't written about the Here We Stay movement, although I've been active in commenting and spreading the word via Facebook and Twitter. Ultimately, I struggled to figure out what I could say that wasn't already being said. I feel the same way this evening. I'm not sure if I can say something that others aren't saying as well, but I no longer care.
I no longer care because I have to say some things. I feel compelled to attempt to describe what the Kings mean to me and the role they've played in my life. I feel compelled to explore the difficult process over the past few weeks. I feel like I need to try to process some of this in the only way I know how: sharing with all of you.
I went to my first Kings game when I was 6. I still have the ticket stubs.
In a relationship, you always have those big moments. The moments you really cherish, though, are the little things that nobody else might have experienced. Those little things than made it something special. I remember the time Tyus Edney almost ran me over in the Arco parking lot. For whatever reason, that's one of those little memories I'll always have, and that I'll always remember fondly.
Another happened two years ago. In April of 2009 my fiance and I realized she might be pregnant. We went to a Kings game with tickets she bought me as a present. After the game, she took the test and confirmed that we were going to be parents. We have a picture from that game on our living room wall. We're both wearing Kings jerseys. That game, that night, will forever be in my memories.
Another picture on that same wall is of my cousin and I. We're standing on the floor of Arco Arena after StR Night II. I'd watched so many games on that floor, I'll never forget what a thrill it was to stand on it.
If the Kings relocate to Anaheim, we're losing more than our team. The Kings are more than a revenue stream for Sacramento. The Kings are intertwined into our lives. If the Kings move, these memories become slightly tarnished. Obviously I'll always cherish the memory of first learning I was going to be a father, but the context will become skewed.
Those personal memories are the most important, but there's also the fan element. As fans, we've stuck with this team through terrible seasons. That 17-win season was brutal, but we were here. We stuck with the team out of loyalty, and because we knew that it would simply make the eventual payoff that much better. We imagined how amazing it would be when the Kings finally won a championship. If the Kings leave, we lose that payoff.
Sure, there's the intrinsic joy we've derived from being a part of this community and fan base. A win like Monday's Clippers game was a great experience that we shared. I'll remember that night, no matter what else happens. But that's not the payoff we've dreamed of.
Throughout this post, I've purposefully stated "if the Kings leave" and "if the Kings relocate". Perhaps I'm naive, but I still have hope. Not a lot, but some. I hope the Maloofs will decide to stay, but I don't expect them to.
No matter what happens, I've enjoyed the ride.