I keep getting emails: “Why don’t you care about the Kings leaving as much as you cared about the Sonics leaving?” Let’s settle this in four paragraphs …
The Sonics were bought by Oklahoma-based owners who deceived Seattle into thinking they would do everything possible to keep the Sonics there, then backstabbed the city and moved the franchise to the group’s hometown — a much smaller market, in an arena that wasn’t any different than the one they left — and, as a trail of emails later revealed, it turned out stealing the Sonics away had been their intention all along. Even worse, the commissioner’s office enabled what happened, and may have even been in on the plan. It’s the darkest NBA saga of the 21st century other than the Donaghy scandal, and whomever ends up writing the Woodward/Bernstein-style investigation someday about how Miami really ended up with LeBron, Wade and Bosh. Which I predict will be written within the next 18 months. And will end with Miami losing somewhere between two and 40 first-round picks.
The Kings? They were stolen from Kansas City in 1986, which stole them from Cincinnati in 1972, which stole them from Rochester in 1958. They’re moving to Anaheim because their owners can’t afford to run a small-market NBA franchise anymore; they need a better arena and extra cash to keep their team from going under. Within ten years, they will probably move again. They are NBA nomads.
Both situations stink. I feel bad for Kings fans. I continue to feel bad for Sonics fans. But the Kings are leaving Sacramento because their franchise wasn’t worth anything where it was. Small-market NBA franchises are doomed in 2011 unless they have (A) a modern arena, and/or (B) a franchise player like Kevin Durant. The Kings have neither. That wouldn’t matter if they had lucked out and had owners with deep pockets, but they drew the short straw in this respect. (It happens. Clippers fans have been holding the short straw for 30 years.) At least in Anaheim, they’ll be playing in a modern arena in a market that supports two other pro teams.
It’s defensible. I hate it … but it’s defensible. What happened to Seattle wasn’t defensible. Their arena was fine, their market was fine, their fans were fine. The hijacking of that franchise was meticulously planned and executed, and that hijacking had the unspoken consent of the commissioner’s office. There’s no comparison. Other than the fact that both events prove we’re saps for caring about sports this much, because you never know when your own team is going to take a sledgehammer to your heart.” —Bill Simmons: The non-contenders rule Part 1 of the NBA Power Poll - ESPN