|Premonition or epitaph? (US Presswire)|
I'm about to drop a pretty hefty blockquote on you, but I need it for the discussion, and you need to see why you should read the entire piece of a post on Sactown Royalty which is about ... hamburgers.
OK, not really. It's about the Kings ending their sponsorship deal with Carl's Jr. That sounds like nothing, right? Especially when you consider the Kings just announced they've secured more "strategic partnerships" for 2012-13 than in any season in their history. But the author uses it to describe a situation no one's paid a lot of attention to.
If last year was the climactic battle over the future of professional basketball in Sacramento, this year is shaping up to be more like a wake. You're not at the funeral, but there's an overriding sense of mourning. From Sactown Royalty:
Those are the Kings I'm most terrified of losing. The present ones. I define the Kings through their season records and performances and playoff runs and national television appearances, sure. I also define the Kings through my relationship with my father and my brothers and my city. But I also define the Kings through the Ed Montes plan, and Pookey, and celebratory gifs, and Diamond and Gold Vault commercials and drunkenly calling in to Carmichael Dave's Show from the Palm Street with a made-up name. And if the Kings go I lose those. Forever.
The daily pain, the pain of a February with no basketball, of a June with no draft, of a Comcast broadcast without a Slamson/Katarina Carl's Jr. commercial, the practical pains, those are the pains that are harder to get over. Because no amount of righteous anger, of raging against the dying of the light, of incensed victimization, can bring those things back, or make me feel any better about having lost them.
Obviously things change. We are conditioned to this. Over a long enough period of time players are traded, businesses fold, industries evolve. We end up living in a world without Marty McNeal columns and House Party Live. But things are now changing more aggressively. More callously. More needlessly. The loss of sponsorships signifies the start of an event we are all completely aware of, completely terrified of, yet have no real control over (perhaps that is why we are collectively so terrified of it). It's the beginning of an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind like mind-wipe that all of us, at least most of us, never requested. It's like we're almost being dared not to care. I can't shake the feeling that this season could be a constant race between me and my memory in an effort to prevent myself from forgetting why I'm here, why I'm writing this, why I care. I'll end up in May huddled in some strange, cobwebbed corridor of my subconscious clutching a Lawrence Funderburke jersey, constantly replaying Peja's old Good Feet Store commercials.
So, all in all, a happy-go-lucky ray of sunshine to add to your day.
The Maloof family and Sacramento are in a stalemate over the new arena agreement. There had been a handshake deal and it was seen as a win for everyone -- the league, the city, everyone. But then the Maloofs backed out on what was overall a tiny share of the cost next to what the city ponied up in the middle of an economic downturn. Since then, there's been no movement, with Mayor Kevin Johnson unwilling to be railroaded anymore by the Maloofs.
Anaheim is waiting. Seattle now has a new building on the horizon (but the Maloofs would have to sell, something they've resisted for reasons which are unfathomable). There are vultures in the skies waiting to devour the carcass for themselves.
The Kings are set to be dreadful again. Too much youth, not enough development, and a lack of basketball discipline to force the team to take shape. So Kings fans are almost forced to have this be their lasting impression: a bad team, with owners who seem desparate to find a way out, despite the league's resistance, and what feels like an end-point to the entire story of their fandom in April.
(Side note: Again, David Stern, who nearly always backs ownership on whatever they want to do, who has supported Donald Sterling as owner for decades, decided to put the full weight of the league against the Maloofs' efforts to move the team. Do you know how much you have to screw up to get Stern to turn on you as an owner?)
It will go unnoticed while we marvel at the strength of the Lakers and Heat, as we argue about which New York team is better, as Boston makes another run. But in the history of a league which has quite a few depressing moments, this Kings season shapes up to be about as dreary as it can get. This thing's like Eeyore's birthday party. A celebration draped in the morose.