In Cleveland, It is impossible not to look at the Kings situation and harken back to a few situations. We were the town not good enough for Art Modell, the place where Carlos Boozer couldnt get enough attention to become an All Star, and of course, the city so vile that the "Chosen One" was chosen to leave almost as soon as he was drafted. Every offseason, in every sport, we hear about how we are never going to be a destination for free agents. No one wants to come here, it is cold sometimes, and its not in Florida. We aren't good enough. Our state isnt warm enough. We don't have enough money. To a lot of people (sadly) we are just a collection of farmers and factory workers, cobbling together enough pennies to see a sure fire losing team. We are all small market, and we are not alone.
Sacramento has a terrible basketball team, and a terrible arena. Both having been unceremoniously dropped from the highs of the Vlade and C-Webb years into a dump of poor play, poor attendance and general apathy around the league. Owned by a family that inherited their father's money, businesses, and hard work, and quickly bankrupted almost all of it. This is a franchise ripe for the taking, and this is also potentially a defining NBA moment for our generation. Having rebuffed silly offers from Virginia Beach, Las Vegas, and Anaheim, the City was in serious trouble. Seattle, a great and proud sports town, and home of some of the wealthiest people on the planet, had put together a superb ownership group. Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, with others, form what would probably be one of the better situations for the NBA. They have the money, the passion, and the will to build a state of the art arena in a major TV market, and right the horrible wrong that was done to them in 2008, when they lost their sonics to Oklahoma City. Certainly OKC had proven they deserved a team, but much like Seattle today, they didnt deserve THAT team. Seattle presented an option that on paper, the people of Sacramento could never contend with. They aren't as big, can't afford the same type of arena, and could never garner the TV money a Seattle franchise could. On paper, and to many in Seattle, only a moron could turn down this amazing deal to instead favor an ownership group glued and scotch taped together by Kevin Johnson, and an Arena deal with more questions than seating capacity. The precedent was there, begging to be set. Back up the Brinks truck, and the team is yours.
Thankfully, for those in Milwaukee, Sacramento, Charlotte, Indiana, and maybe even us one day, the NBA chose not to "open the door" so to speak. That is not to say that Seattle isn't deserving, they certainly are, but choosing the money, over the history, the fans, and the efforts of Sacramento would put everyone on the firing line. As was the epidemic nearly three decades ago, the bottom dollar would trump history, and no small market would be safe. You dont have a lease? Your owner is free to accept offers from anyone he wants if he wants out, and you better hope that you can find some local people to match or else your team will soon become someone else's team. For every Dan Gilbert or Tom Gores, that have the money, and want to build their market up, there would be a Chris Hansen or Clay Bennett looking to bring your history to their town. Even though the Cavs have never won a title, and have been bad more often than not, they're mine. That is connection we form as fans, with the team, and (sorry LeBron) with the players too. It would kill me see them go elsewhere just because their rich guy is richer than our rich guy.
So, even though some in Seattle may hate me for it, and I do sincerely hope they get a team soon: Thank you David Stern. Thank you 22 NBA owners who believed that the incumbent should just have to be NBA quality, not better than the other guy. Most of all, thank you Kevin Johnson and Sacramento, for helping everyone else who is "not good enough, rich enough, or glamorous enough" feel like they can go a few rounds with Goliath too.