Writing and Research: Aaron M. Weis
If you are a diehard Kings fan, one that truly bleeds purple and black, then the mention of the 2002 season is a discussion that resonates some of the most bittersweet feelings. It was back in their hay day when they were arguably the single most pioneers to create for the fast-paced, high scoring games that we see today, and it was for this reason that they were a favorite for the NBA Finals in the same year. However, at the same time, many fans feel that they were robbed of their opportunity by controversial and otherwise petty referee calls in the final games against the Los Angeles Lakers, leading to the joke that the Lakers consisted of Shaq, Kobe, and three referees.
Starting with the heart-wrenching trade of Chris Webber to the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers, in the last two decades, the team has seen countless trades, drafts, relocations, manager changes, and a long list of other transformations in what has seemed to be a vainglorious attempt to recreate the Kings glory days. I say vainglorious in the sense that despite all their efforts, that they have still fallen short to at the very least even be a playoff contender in all those years, and it has been a hard journey for those that are authentic fans.
However, out of all of this, the most difficult thing to observe during this process, especially in recent years, has been watching the number of locals giving in to becoming a bandwagon fan to the Golden State Warriors given their recent performance and success over the last couple of years. As such, there is this sort of mentality that since the Sacramento Kings can’t put California on the map in terms of basketball glory, then we might as well cheer on the one that will. Talk about loyalty right?
And it’s been a rather funny process to watch. I know people that growing up in middle school and high school were the biggest Kings fans, who had every jersey from Mike Bibby to Vlade Divac, to whom are now sporting Curry, Durant, and other kinds of Warrior memorabilia. What is most ironic, is that these same people know nothing about the Warriors that consisted of the likes of Tim Hardaway, Jason Richardson, or even Chris Webber for that matter, back when they hardly raised any attention of the likes that they have as of current, despite their recent loss in the finals to the Toronto Raptors.
Personally, I feel that I am the best person to write about this observation, as I act as a type of fly on the wall observer to the whole situation. As for myself, I bleed green, and I love the Boston Celtics and their rich history. But as an unbiased observer, it does make it easier to document this behavior without trying to favor one side or the other.
In the last two decades, what I have noticed, is that with all the trades, drafts, and changes that the Sacramento Kings have encountered, that all of these things fall short to the biggest loss that has ostensibly passed by unnoticed, and I speak of the sixth man, and in writing this, I write it as a kind of call to action for that person or persons to assume their role, and stand up, as the title suggests.
While I am a Celtics fan, I grew up in a household of six people that were, and still are the biggest Kings fans that I have ever known with a few minor exceptions. Now, to the individual reading this that is not a Sacramento local, they might not understand this notion or concept of the sixth man that I am referring to. No, at least, not at first.
When I speak of the sixth man, I am not discussing Bobby Jackson, Jon Barry, Hedo Turkoglu, or any other player that has come off the bench as one of the reserve players. No, what I am talking about is that of the fans in and of themselves.
Back in the years that I previously mentioned, this was arguably the backbone of the Sacramento Kings, and like Bane broke Batman’s back, so too has the King lost its loyal subjects that lifted him up, which has left him or them in a state of disarray to the likes of King Lear.
During the Kings glory days, there was not a day that went by where they were not subjected to this notion of the sixth man. Before every game, there was a commercial that I vividly recall of a mob of individuals wearing Kings jerseys, and the basic jist of the commercial was that the Kings were nothing without their fans, and as such, they incorporated them, and made them feel as if they were apart of the team, as if they were the Kings greatest player, and one that they have unfortunately loss. And the performance of the Kings as of late shows how tremendously accurate this analogy or depiction was. Right now, it is as if they are nothing, and it is because they lost their loyal fan base.
To further illustrate this point, I will illustrate what was the most memorable aspect of attending a Kings game. Their backboard that hung high in the center of the arena had a sort of built-in decibel measurement device built into it. During the game, fans would participate in trying to be as loud as they could get in order to get the meter to the highest point that would set off the King insignia on the previously mentioned edifice. Back in the day, there was hardly a home Kings game where the fans did not set it off. Nowadays, it is hard to see it get to about the halfway point.
In conclusion, I speak directly to the basketball fans of Sacramento, in a sort of call of action as I previously mentioned. The Kings need their sixth man to lift them and their spirits back up. I would go into a psychological analysis of how individuals perform better at their various tasks and functions when they feel appreciated, but that would create for an entirely different article. No, to conclude, I say, the Kings need you, their sixth man, their real MVP.