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Kings fans pack the building for “Here We Buy” night

Feb 11, 2013, 1:17 PM EDT

Kings Rockets Getty Images

In the end it may not change the outcome, but what the Sacramento Kings fans did Sunday night was show how much passion there still is for NBA basketball in that market. Which raises a lot of uncomfortable questions for the league.

Sunday night when the Rockets came to town was “Here We Buy” night at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, which follows the “Here We Stay” campaign of a couple years ago that helped stave off a planned move by the Maloof family (the Kings owners) to take the team to Anaheim. Now the Kings fans and community leaders are rallying behind keeping the franchise to keep it in Sacramento after the Maloofs have reached a deal to sell the team a group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, men with the intention of moving the franchise to Seattle.

Sacramento official are working to put forth a counter offer to the one the Maloof family will present to the league, a counter which when combined with some legal tangles might force the league and the Maloofs to reconsider the sale and look at potential local owners.

But part of that is convincing the league and the other owners — who have to approve the sale and moving of the team — that Sacramento is still a quality and passionate NBA market. Fans paid for extra tickets that went to area youth organizations.

It worked — the building was full, loud and you could hear the chants on the broadcast. Fans waved signs that said “Our City. Our Team” and “Let Us Match.” They were doing the wave — even the team.  Tom Ziller at SactownRoyalty summed it up well.

But the damned crowd. 16,000 strong for a 17-win team in a seventh straight losing season with owners that just tried to sell us out after a history over the past two years of trying to sell us out. And those 16,000 people — you people — were loud. So loud. It blared through the TV. Constantly. It’s like the chants built to a crescendo. It was wild.

If you don’t think fan support helps, the Kings came back from 10 down in the fourth quarter to win that game against the Rockets.

The NBA and its owners have serious questions to answer — if there are legitimate ownership and new arena options to keep a team in a city, if fan support is there, should the league sanction a franchise move anyway? More bluntly, should an ownership group be allowed to run down a franchise to the point that it erodes fan support, then follow that with a sale to move said team without the league doing more earlier to prevent it? The league did step in and help set up an arena deal that got handshakes all around, then the Maloofs pulled out of it. Is it now okay for the to sell the team to whomever they want?

The Kings may well still be sold and moved before next season starts. We’ll see how it plays out. But how the league answers those questions is something fans of middle and small markets everywhere should watch.

  1. trippymane - Feb 11, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    Sonics fans did the same thing back in 08′. Yall know how that worked out. Seattle already has an arena plan and an agreement to buy the team with a strong ownership group. Sacramento has none of that. They are way to far behind now to make a comeback, they shouldnt have waited this long to start.

    • drushkin - Feb 11, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      not true and not informed. sacramento has an approved by city council arena plan and an ownership deal working out it’s final details. please do some research outside of your local media.

      • Kurt Helin - Feb 11, 2013 at 10:21 PM

        That plan would have to be re-approved with new owners according to people I spoke with in Sac. Also, the plan is for a new site for the arena, and while there is early money and property owners on board it is a long way from approved (and well behind the Seattle plans, which are on to an environmental stage). Sorry, those are the facts.

    • jcmeyer10 - Feb 11, 2013 at 6:52 PM

      Exactly, it’s all up to King Stern now.

  2. mjl1988 - Feb 11, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    If the lockout was to “protect small market” teams why would David stern and the NBA owners allow a move of a small market team to a big market? Wasn’t Stern supposed to be protecting small market clubs? Like when he blocked the CP3 trade to the lakers. Let the Kings stay!

    Laker Fan, Nor-Cal resident

  3. poundtherock - Feb 11, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    trippymane, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone reading these comments is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    Sincerely,

    An educated SACRAMENTO KINGS fan.

    • heat256 - Feb 11, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      As funny as a “Billy Madison” reference is, the guy is right. The lack of support by either the fanbase, the city, or the owners (most likely a combo of all three) has signaled the demise of basketball in SAC – for now at least. Should they get owners that are interested in paying at least half if not more for an arena may help a team stay there.

    • gls24 - Feb 11, 2013 at 3:14 PM

      In what way were trippymane comments “isanely idiotic? Your response is non-specific, and thus nonnsensical.

      • jcmeyer10 - Feb 11, 2013 at 6:52 PM

        Dude has had that in his backpocket for so long he just couldn’t wait to make that joke, even if it made little sense.

      • poundtherock - Feb 11, 2013 at 7:04 PM

        Anyone who has actually been following the Sacramento Kings dilemma for longer than the past two months knows that the fans, the city, the mayor, have ALL been trying to do everything they can do for YEARS to keep the Kings competitive and in Sacramento. The city has literally been held hostage by the Maloofs who have for years been either trashing the city saying that they provide subpar facilities or by claiming that they are committed to Sacramento when everyone who’s been paying attention knows they are full of BS.

        I take offense with trippymane’s comment of “they shouldnt have waited this long to start.” That could not be further from the truth. We Kings fans have done everything we can to get a new arena. The city worked with the fans, the NBA and the owners (not really) to get an arena deal done. The Maloofs torpedoed that great deal because they literally have no money to do anything. They want a completely paid for arena, and they want a good amount of the profits that come with it.

        It’s downright INSULTING to say that Sacramento shouldn’t have waiting this long to start. We’ve been in this battle for years and years. Just because the rest of the country is only now starting to read about it doesn’t mean that we aren’t covered with battle scars that have already healed. And we continue to battle, and we will battle still. The Kings aren’t going anywhere.

  4. MyTeamsAllStink - Feb 11, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Sacramento,should make an attempt to lure either the A’s or the Raiders to their area.Bith are afterthought
    S in their own market,both play in an old decaying building and both can’t get a stadium deal in Oakland.The A’s would make the most sense as the A’s attempt to move to San Jose is being stonewalled.Im sure Raley Field could be modified to accommodate an MLB franchise or build a new ballpark where that empty land sits downtown.

  5. gls24 - Feb 11, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    Actually, the game referred to in the article occurred on Saturday night. Houston was in town on Sunday night. Additionally, the arena was far from “packed.” There were many empty seats, or they were filled with fans maquerading as seats.

    Many of the attendees received their tickets for free or they bought them at heavily disounted prices. Sacramento’s interest in the Kings has waned considerably, as has any enthusiasm for mortgaging our future for an arena.

    When most folks say, “Go Kings,” we really mean it . . . go, please.

    • brianspider - Feb 11, 2013 at 5:22 PM

      Except most folks in Sacramento don’t say that..

  6. loungefly74 - Feb 11, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    seen many games in Sactown…Arco Arena. damn. this hurts.

  7. hardballtalkusername - Feb 11, 2013 at 10:33 PM

    Not a Kings fan, but I have been to Arco many times. This sucks as they had a very passionate fan base until the owners completely screwed up the franchise and its fans. It reminds me a lot of what George Shinn did to the Hornets when they were in Charlotte.

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