I was entering 1st grade in 1986 when my mom announced to my brother and I that we were moving from Sonoma County to Sacramento because she got a job teaching and started in less than a week. We moved to the Greenhaven/Pocket area where I would stay until I graduated Kennedy H.S. in 1998. Little did I know at the time that another move to a small warehouse in Natomas happened that year. I don't remember attending a game at Arco 1 but I did see a USA vs Cuba Boxing match there (random).
The first few years with Reggie Theus, Kenny Smith, Wayman Tisdale, the L Train, etc were not pretty. I remember going to the games at the sparkling new Arco Arena. We would always sit in the last few rows of the upper deck as that was all my mom could afford. We laughed at the Kings while rooting for the visiting team, whoever they were. The Kings were somewhat of a joke to me. I remember going to games against the newly formed Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets (There unis were so much cooler than the Kings!) I also got the see, and root, Micheal Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson play a few times.
It was about 1991 when one of my brother's friends (sean) who was a ball boy for the Kings made a bet with me. He bet me that if I rooted for the Kings for a whole year, I would become a fan for life. While I am sure he has no recollection of this, it changed my life forever! This was right about the time Billy Owens refused to play for the Kings. In all of my hypocrisy I was upset by this. It was like he was rejecting the city of Sacramento!
In comes The Rock. Now, there was reason to cheer for the Kings. While only amassing wins in the 20s and low 30s for most of the 90s, he was a member of the Dream Team, a regular All Star, and All Star MVP in 1995. Then came my dream moment when the Kings drafted Bobby Hurley, my favorite college player who I witnessed in person win the final four against Chris Webber and the Fab 5 in 1992. My 8th grade Sutter Miner game shoes were my ITZs (In the Zone) I bought with my own money. Man I loved those shoes! (you can imagine my devistation after the crash) I still have my #7 Jersey to this day.
In 1994, while roaming the halls of Sutter Middle School, I went to the unveiling of the new logo/ color scheme at the happening Downtown Plaza. I remember thinking that the Kings were going to go with some sort of teal color scheme like the SJ Sharks. I was standing on the balcony in front of the Macy's and Sunglasses Hut as Mitch Richmond himself stepped out from behind the curtain and onto the runway in the white/purple/Silver. Awesome!
Then came the Seattle Supersonics in 1996. Man I wish I was there for game three. The stories people tell of that game are priceless. Alas, I watched the team go down in defeat on TV but we were the talk of the NBA for a night.
1998 was like a dream. We traded our all star for a disgruntled yet talented Chris Webber who I was convinced would pull a Billy Owens on us. Some guy name Peja who we drafted two year before was coming from overseas. We signed Vlade Divac who I was convinced was already. And we drafted some white kid from Florida who looked like a flashy flop in the making. Oh boy was I wrong.
By that time, I was on the varsity Basketball team at Kennedy High School. I won a free throw shooting contest for tickets to a game where I got to sit neerly court-side with my coach. What a far cry from from the nosebleeds. I dreamed of making the CIF section playoffs and getting to run out of the tunnel for a game on the Kings home court. (it was not meant to be as we lost in the playoffs, falling one game short of making sections. to this day it remains a bucket list item to take a shot on their home court)
In 2002 I was at UCSB in my senior year surrounded by fans of the Purple and Gold. Game 6 and 7 were brutal, just brutal. I consider myself a practitioner of non-violence. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that when we lost that series, I wanted nothing more than to go outside where a bunch of students were celebrating their win, and fight them all. I could have beat them all up that night. Yes, I was that pissed.
Life soon caught up to me. I got married, had kids, moved to D.C. You know, the usual. The fact that the Kings were bad and my wife was from Pittsburgh meant football would dominate my television for almost a decade. (The saddest thing about these years to me is that I have forgotten. I have forgotten how good we were. I watch the youtube highlights and think to myself, I cant remember the joyful feeling of winning 60 games in a year! )
What brought me back? "1st and Goal at the one!" My Kings in Seattle? Hella no! My daily routine was reading anything and everything Kings. I felt helpless being on the east coast. I wanted to come home. I wanted to be with fellow fans. I wanted to grieve with them. I wanted to go to the rallys. I wanted to fight with KJ. Vivek Ranadive who?
It was at this time I found Sactown Royalty. My salvation, my outlet. My way to grieve, cheer, celebrate, and GIF dance with the Kings brotherhood. I don't comment all that much but I read them all. Otis, Greg, Section, Carl, Babygiraff, Kfan, and Rik, I see you! I need you! Now my days begin and end checking StR. (Greg, I hope my marriage survives!)
This year I made a pact with my high school buddies that we would attend a game at the G1C. Of all the games we picked the Golden State Warriors in Feburary. I flew from D.C. and my buddy Colin flew from Atlanta. We met up with Travis and Justin who still live in Sac. What a game, what an arena. We were sure we were going to loose but we didn't care. We were home. When the final buzzer sounded I turned to a warriors fan who had tucked his tail between his legs and said, "this was our championship, good luck in the Finals."
I could go on but I doubt anyone is still reading. If you are, it is probably because you have a story that is like mine. Some random event that sucked you in and never let go. I always say that it must be easy to be a fan of the Spurs or Patriots but being a Kings fan is hard work. It takes dedication, sacrifice, and eternal optimism that tomorrow brings a new day. Go Kangz!