I avoided writing a word about the Sacramento relocation and arena saga since the moment David Stern confirmed that Kings co-owners George, Joe and Gavin Maloof had discussions with Anaheim officials during this past regular season's NBA All-Star Weekend.
It wasn’t because I was disinterested or wasn’t constantly searching the web for any kind of update. Even though I live nearly 3,000 miles away from Sacramento, the thought of the team I’ve followed since I was kid moving to another city and changing its name, and the owners turning their backs on the community that had supported the Kings through thick and thin—and there has been plenty of thin—for 26 years, just seemed unfathomable.
It was partly because I didn’t want to get caught up in overanalyzing every esoteric quote or unconfirmed rumor until I heard an official announcement. But it was mostly because I’m superstitious, and couldn't bring myself to write what I had truly felt.
Even while it almost seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Kings would be relocating following long-time broadcasters Jerry Reynolds and Grant Napear's tear-jerking farewell after the team’s season finale, deep down, I never thought the Kings would go anywhere. Call it blind faith or naïveté, but I honestly never believed it would happen.
The day after the Kings’ final game of the season, the Maloofs and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson presented their cases to the NBA Board of Governors at the St. Regis hotel in New York. When I stopped by the hotel to merely snap a quick photo, reporters from the Sacramento CBS, NBC and ABC affiliates rushed to interview me after seeing my Kings jacket.
Each one asked me the same discouraging question: “Do you still think Sacramento has any chance of keeping the team?” I told them that I remained optimistic, and felt that much like on the court, where the Kings came back from a 20-point deficit against the defending champions the previous night, we, as fans, always have to keep hope alive.
Still, in the weeks that followed, the ongoing emotional rollercoaster made it difficult for anyone to feel overly excited or dejected for long. One minute, the Maloofs were issued $75 million in bonds from the Anaheim City Council to facilitate a move to the Honda Center and filed trademarks for the (bad) name “Anaheim Royals." The next minute, Mayor Johnson’s plan for a new arena and announcement of a potential new owner in billionaire Ron Burkle blew away the Board (which was a good thing).