A "faithful following once considered among the best in American professional sports came together" last night for the Lakers-Kings game at Power Balance Pavilion in what could be the Kings' last game in Sacramento before relocating to Anaheim, according to Antonio Gonzalez of the AP. A "standing-room only crowd packed things beyond the 17,317-seat capacity, and many arrived well before tipoff." Fans' "optimism reverberated in the echoes of those trademark cowbells and in the purple-painted faces who came to remember the glory days." A "video montage for 'Fan Appreciation Night' was shown before tipoff," and Kings F Donte Greene addressed the crowd, saying, "On behalf of all my teammates, coaches and everyone in the organization, thank you. You guys are the best fans in the world." Gonzalez notes there were "derogatory chants and angry posters toward Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof, who were not in attendance" (AP, 4/14). In Sacramento, Peter Hecht writes the "standing-room-only crowd" provided an "emotionally surreal scene." The crowd "cheered at times as if it were" the '02 Lakers-Kings Western Conference Finals. Hecht also notes "hundreds of fans, some with tears in their eyes, stood at their seats chanting, 'Here we stay!' when it was over" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/14).
I WILL REMEMBER YOU: In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin writes, "So how do you say goodbye? If this truly is goodbye? You remember the Kings." Voisin: "The cheering, the chanting, the symphony of cowbells. The uniquely passionate crowd that ranked second to none in the NBA for the better part of three decades. ... The NBA still doesn't have many places like this" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/14). ESPN's Bomani Jones said of last night possibly being the last NBA game in Sacramento, "While normally I'm not very emotional about these things, that's a city that supported a team that quite honestly most of us would not have gone to watch. ... There are a lot of great fan bases, and the Kings are on that list. For them to lose that team is sad especially considering you don't know if the place they are going want a team" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 4/13).
RELOCATION ROUNDUP: In Sacramento, Dale Kasler notes NBA relocation requests normally are "overwhelmingly approved," but the Kings' move to Anaheim "could be complicated by the presence of two teams already in" L.A. NBA Commissioner David Stern "has long been cool to the idea of a third team in the greater Los Angeles market," and Lakers Owner Jerry Buss and Clippers Owner Donald Sterling are "widely expected to lobby against the move." The Kings "probably won't know their fate until sometime in early fall," when the NBA BOG "would vote on the Maloofs' relocation request." Meanwhile, "last-ditch efforts continued" yesterday to "keep the Kings from leaving." Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson today "will address the NBA's financial advisory committee," and to "buttress Johnson's presentation in New York, the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce pleaded with businesses to commit to becoming corporate sponsors of the team." Chamber President Matt Mahood "was hoping for commitments of at least $5 million in time for Johnson's appearance," and he "asked for pledges of at least $100,000 apiece for luxury suites, blocks of tickets or sponsorships" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/14). Johnson said that he will "provide documentation in New York of expanded Sacramento business sponsorship interest in the NBA." Johnson: "It's more probable than not they're going to Anaheim. I just have to show why it makes good business sense to have Sacramento in the league" (L.A. TIMES, 4/14).
PUT AWAY THE RUBBER STAMP: NBA reporter Sam Amick said the pushback from the BOG about a move to Anaheim "is going to be significantly more" than the Maloofs are expecting. Amick: "I'm not saying it's going to get voted down, but I think right now the league and owners are just kind of wondering if Anaheim is the right spot." Meanwhile, Amick said he has been told Johnson is "going to take the high road" in his presentation to the BOG, and it will not be a "mud-slinging campaign against the Maloofs." Amick: "But he does have to show why they need another team here. If they're going to lose this one, bring another one in" ("Chronicle Live," CSN Bay Area, 4/13).