The bond between Holmes and the Kings fans goes back even before he made the decision to sign in Sacramento. As he told The Athletic, Holmes received appreciation from the Golden 1 Center crowd even when he made the trip as an opposing player with the Phoenix Suns.
“I think they showed so much love last year even before I got here,” Holmes said. “I remember playing here last season with Phoenix and the love they showed me after the game was truly amazing, starting then.”
Cheering for a player on the road team seems like an odd practice, but the Suns and Kings aren’t exactly blood rivals, and Sacramento won both of its home games against Phoenix, so it doesn’t feel entirely wrong. Holmes’ game is easy to love, as he always plays with incredibly high energy. He scored 10 points and added 9 rebounds in the first meeting in Sacramento, and added 14 points and 5 rebounds in the second, in addition to totaling 14 free-attempts over the two contests. He wasn’t putting up scrub numbers; he was earning the love, and he appreciated it.
It’s also possible the Kings fans in attendance were playing the long game with Holmes, wooing him before he became a free agent during the offseason.
“So when it was time for me to make my decision of where I was going to go (as a free agent), Sacramento fans were heavy on my timeline, wanting me to sign here. And ever since I’ve been here, it’s been nothing but love. They saw me play and loved the way I played. I played aggressively, I just played as hard as I could and I think that’s something they respected. The love they’ve shown has been unbelievable. The M-V-P chants, seeing the Holmes jerseys in the audience.”
The gambit paid off for the Kings, and it has paid off for Holmes. He quickly became a starter despite being recruited as a backup, and he has found an NBA home that he loves. In return, Sacramento fans have a player who reciprocates their devotion to the team and the community, and a proven test case of their ability to influence free agency.
It’s been a perfect match between Holmes and the Kings, despite its strange beginnings in the mentions of Holmes’ Twitter timeline.