Ever since I set foot on the Arco Arena court to play basketball with nine other 11-year-olds at halftime, I have been a Sacramento Kings fan.
From trading Jason Williams for what would soon be, my absolute favorite player of all time, Mike Bibby, to the infamous 2002 Western Conference Finals against our biggest rivals – the Lakers. I remember screaming every time Bibby made a 3 and I remember crying when Horry made that notorious buzzer-beater during the most controversial playoff series in NBA history. From ringing cowbells at Arco, to plastering “Beat LA” stickers over every possession I had. I remember the Dream Team of Webber, Divac, Christie, Peja & Bibby.
Even after the somewhat, downfall of the Kings, I have remained a fan, along with the rest of Sacramento. From the most sellout games in the NBA, to seasons with only 17 wins. From a potential move down to Anaheim, to the Maloofs [trying to] sell the Kings to Seattle. Sacramento fans have never given up and we’ve proved that if you love your team enough to fight relentlessly for it, you CAN win.
No, we haven’t made playoffs in years, but we’ve been fighting a battle bigger than basketball. A battle against politics and selfish, greedy business owners who tried their hardest to take our team away from us.
People always argue about what a “real fan” is. They criticize others for being “band wagon” fans. For only supporting their team when they’re good. On Facebook it’s a crime to mention your team’s win if you’ve never posted about them losing, apparently, because “all of a sudden” these fans come out of “nowhere”. You’re not allowed to brag about your team unless you know every single stat from the beginning of their franchise.
As much as I enjoy getting in heated arguments with people who challenge me on my knowledge of basketball or the Kings, what does it really matter what other people think? Focus on your own team and quit worrying so much about other people and whether or not they’re “real fans”. I’ve endured countless jeers from those who believed it was over for us but I, like the rest of the faithful fans in Sacramento, had hope that we would win. Our Kings staying in Sacramento -against all odds- for the last 2 years alone is proof in itself that we are loyal, real fans.
These last few years have been a journey for the Kings, to say the least. When the Maloofs first said they were moving the Kings to Anaheim, I thought it was over. I cried during our last game against the Lakers in 2011, thinking it was the last time I’d ever watch my team play.
Miraculously, we stayed in Sacramento but it didn’t take long for the Maloofs to attempt to sell the Kings to Seattle. In recent years, the owners of our team have only viewed the Kings in a monetary perspective. It didn’t matter to them that the fans still cared, that the players loved this city as much as we did or that we had remained loyal throughout 8 years of losing seasons.
For us, we still dress up in purple and black. We still watch games, regardless of how painful it might be to watch our team lose game after game. We still scream and cheer on our team at the now, Sleep Train Arena. We still hold a grudge against the Lakers for the worst officiating done in 2002. We still believed that we would STAY & now we are one step closer to keeping our team where they belong.
I’ve spent the majority of the past year across the world but I’ve never been as homesick as I am today. I woke up to the most incredible news – that the NBA Relocation Committee has voted UNANIMOUSLY to deny the Maloofs bid to relocate to Seattle. I grew up thinking Sac was the most boring town and did everything I could to leave, but I’ve never been so proud of my hometown as I am today. We might be a small city, but today and for the past 28 years, we’ve been the home of the most faithful and loyal fans. It’s not completely over yet, but I’m fully confident that I’ll be able to come home next year to attend yet another amazing Kings game with the best fans in the NBA.