Until there were only eight minutes left in the game, it looked like the Sacramento Kings would beat the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, Jan 23.
Phoenix is the only team in the Pacific Division with a worse overall record than the Kings. Indeed, Sacramento was undefeated at home against Pacific rivals, while the Suns were winless against all Western Conference teams on the road.
The flow of the game looked favorable for Kings fans.
During the current season, the Suns have trouble coming from behind on the road. When trailing after the first half, they had never won, and at half time, they trailed the Kings by eight. Similarly, they had lost all 15 road when trailing after three quarters. (They were three points behind the Kings.)
But, come from behind, they did. Just as they overcame a 19-point deficit to beat the Kings in Arizona last December, they reversed a 10-point deficit and won the game 106 – 96.
On the positive side, Thomas Robinson had a career game, tying his record for points scored (12) and setting a record for rebounds (14). The Kings, who are ranked 25th out of the 30 NBA teams in rebounding (behind the Suns), outrebounded Phoenix by a phenomenal 62 to 37.
Nevertheless, they allowed 27 points off 24 turnovers (compared with only 23 assists) and missed nine of their 24 free throws. With the Suns accumulating almost three times as many assists as turnovers, as well as sinking 14 of 16 foul shots, the Kings fell apart in the fourth quarter.
One minute into the final quarter, the Suns began a 20 – 3 run, limiting the Kings to only one field goal in a seven-minute stretch. For Kings fans, it was an ugly loss.
Kings fans sound off on the move
Speaking of ugly losses, local fans are dealing with the possible departure of the entire team, as the Maloof family has agreed to sell the Kings to billionaire investors who plan to move the team to Seattle. Should that happen, the Sacramento Kings will become the new Seattle Sonics, and the Kings will cease to exist.
Ron grew up in Southern California. He watched Jerry West play, and remained a Laker fan after moving to Roseville. However, when the relocation of the Kings became a real threat, he joined the rest of his family of Kings fans, put on a Kings jersey, and bought season tickets. Now, he’s a diehard Kings fan.
He finds it distressing, “but [Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson] made it clear he’s going to do everything he can to keep [them] here.” He added, “I trust KJ and I trust his relationship with Mr. Stern. I’m optimistic.” If Johnson were to put a deal together for local owners and a new arena, and the Kings were still allowed to move, “Then I’d probably be done with the NBA. If we can’t come up with anything, then I’d still be frustrated. But, if he’s able to come up with everything we need to do to keep the team and they’re still allowed to leave and we don’t get an expansion team, then it will take me awhile to be a fan of the NBA.”
The only relocation Steve from Dixon wants to think about is a “relocation to downtown” and he feels “terrible” about the Kings leaving Sacramento. “If anybody can do it, KJ can.” He and his wife are especially concerned that, if the Kings move to Seattle and become the new Sonics, the Kings won’t exist anymore. He added, “I don’t think the league will want to throw that away and erase everything that they’ve done” Since Steve is a former Warriors fan from the Bay Area, they might begin to root for Golden State.
Dennis and Susan Wood, from Sacramento, are “very disappointed. It’s not a good thing at all for the whole community, and the city, and team, and all the fans.” Dennis would like the Maloofs “to rethink their position,” because “the employees and the fans have all been sold down the river.” He’s optimistic that “the NBA will consider giving the city of Seattle a franchise” and create a “win-win situation” which also allows new owners to keep the team in Sacramento and build a new arena. Susan feels that Sacramento has been “very good to [the Maloofs] and it’s a real slap in the face.” If they move, neither will remain a Kings fan and will most likely switch to the Warriors.
Debi lives in Citrus Heights and expressed strong feelings. “It makes me mad! They said they were not going to sell their team — and not to give us a first chance at it makes me really mad. And, I feel really bad for the team, because they’re stuck in the middle.of this Nobody wants to support the Maloofs, so [the players] don’t get the support. It sucks.” She and Carlos had a message for the Maloofs: “Sell to a local group! Let us keep our team.” If all else fails, they, like Steve and Sue from Dixon, would probably start rooting for the Warriors.
Nina is from Sacramento, and came to the game with Israel, her Lakers-fan brother-in-law.: “It saddens me. It saddens me grreatly, because if they take them away, we’re going be without our Kings, and it’s not like we’re ever going to get another basketball team.” She’d like to tell the Maloofs to “sell to someone who wants to keep the Kings here.”
Steve Russell is a Kings fan from Sacramento and has season tickets. He’s disappointed in the Maloofs and wishes they would come to an agreement to stay in Sacramento. If the team should move, however, he might go to some Warriors games just to watch basketball, but would remain a Kings fan.
Mark and Kenny are from Roseville and sported retro Kings gear. Mark’s feelings were circumspect. “We’re not really happy about it. I understand that there’s business at stake, but when you look at what the city and what the people of the city tried to do in support of the Kings, it’s kind of an unfortunate set of circumstances." Kenny is annoyed that the Maloofs could have sold the team to a local group last year, but now they are planning to take the team away. “I think that if you were really financially strapped, you knew what your situation was last year at this time.” The two friends have already discussed what they would do if the Kings moved to Seattle — they would become Warriors fans. Kenny added, “I don’t even want to bring my daughters to the game now, because I’m so bummed out about this whole situation.
Roosevelt Knox, Jr. was born and raised in Sacramento. He wants to tell the Maloofs to “give us a chance to have our team back.” Should the Kings move, he wouldn’t root for them or any other team. If they are not in Sacramento, they are not his team.
No one approached in the arena were not feeling either sad or angry or both about the pending move. Warriors fans, on the other hand, might miss having a local rivalry, but might enjoy their new, expanded fan base.
: Thanks to David Alvarez, who captured some great photos of the game’s action.