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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Will Sacramento Kings Become Latest Pro Team to Skip Town?

You hear that sound of tires peeling out? Just call it the Kings’ screech. This confusing picture involving two cities and an NBA team is not likely to win any awards anytime soon. Sacramento is currently embroiled in a media feeding-frenzy the likes of which have not been seen since that schmo John Sutter started panning for gold (or at least since Gray Davis was given his second technical from the California electorate). The question is, will the team that allegedly plays basketball in Sacramento become yet another entity to make the pilgrimage out of the Capitol City or will they stick around like the folks during the Gold Rush who tried to make their living in the riverbeds during the mid-19th century (just throwing it out there that John Salmons did not swim upstream while playing for the Kings)?

The City of Anaheim is home to the happiest place on Earth (no, not the Department of Motor Vehicles). It is one of the nation’s fastest growing cities, but it does not have Sacramento’s list of nicknames, which includes “City of Trees” (please see Quincy Douby). However, the city has had a less-than-stellar reputation with respect to sports teams. A World Football League team, the Southern California Sun, came and went (perhaps the orange and magenta hues turned people off?). So did the Arena Football League. Lacrosse went bust (the team had no shot, but was owned by Jayson Williams, so go figure). Teams have been abandoning the city for years, too.

The LA Clippers played games in Anaheim from 1994 to 1999 but were soon frightened off by the loud noises brought on by large crowds. The Rams played in Anaheim for the better part of two decades but lived in denial under the heading of the Los Angeles Rams before they decided that St. Louis was the more appropriate place for a team playing in the NFC West division. Even the Anaheim Amigos said “adios.” The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (nee Anaheim Angels, nee California Angels, nee Los Angeles Angels… nay!) have been suffering an identity crisis for years, burying the city’s name behind a preposition perhaps because: a) The Halos felt that they could attract free agents with Los Angeles in the title? (Nope) b) Anaheim sounds too German? (Possibly) c) They felt they could disassociate themselves with former player Reggie Jackson, who was programmed to kill the Queen of England in “The Naked Gun”? (Give me a break, I’m low on glucose.)

With sagging attendance (there is probably a surgeon somewhere in Southern California who can fix that!) and mounting losses, it seems like the odds of the Sacramento Kings staying put are equivalent to the number of Doug Christie Game 7 field goals, zero. City mayor Kevin Johnson, who has successfully turned a career in passing the rock to passing the buck, has tried to drum up support for the flagging franchise. Recently, the city organized a show of support by asking people to come out to fill the stadium for a home game against the Clippers (they picked a great game…).

Well, it’s not as if the franchise has not been Maloofed in the past. Take into consideration the team began in Rochester as the Royals in 1945. Then, deciding that western New York was no place for royalty (or that a tithe was hard to come by in the mid 20th century), the team picked up stakes and took their show to Cincinnati. After 15 years in Cincinnati, the monarchy bequeathed the throne in Ohio and apparently left for greener pastures, until it was revealed that none such pastures were located in their new homes of Kansas City, Missouri and Omaha, Nebraska. Henceforth, the team was known as the Kansas City-Omaha Kings, which, along, with the Kansas City Royals, established the first monarchy in an area where barbecue was once king.

After a fortnight (and three years) anon, two markets were considered to be too much of a schlep and the Kings remained in Kansas City. Then after boredom presumably set in they just kept right on going along the same longitude and ended up in Sacramento as some sort of odd basketball-related tribute to the Donner Party (with only slightly less cannibalism, plenty of mishaps and wheels coming off the wagon). Of course, those pioneers probably could have used the services of “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison; he really didn’t do much for the Kings.

The Kings have put nearly put as many cities on the chopping block as Henry VIII did wives, and it appears they may go Anne Boleyn on Sac-Town sometime soon. At least this time the team would be staying in the same state. Same 5 Freeway nearby. They would be trading Arco Arena for Honda Center, not a bad move considering the rising cost of gas.

Orange County has been about as well known for its surgery-enhanced Housewives than the teams that have knifed their way through there (uh hem). It’s the OC. It may not be the glitz and glamour of LA but it has an airport named after The Duke and Richard Nixon was born there. Perhaps Sacramento better start penning a worst enemies list.

Danny Lee has been involved in sports media for over seven years … While at UCLA, he turned his grade school doodles into a position with the Daily Bruin, and continues his diatribes to this day. You can read his contributions to Larry Brown Sports every Wednesday.



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