Kings' divorce from Sacramento is inevitable

Kings' divorce from Sacramento is inevitable
November 29, 2012, 7:43 pm
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The news that the Dancing Maloofs seem finally to have found a relocation partner in Virginia Beach, VA, came neither as surprise nor outrage back in Sacramento. It seems that the town that housed the Kings has come to grips with the fact that the team wasn't really a member of the family after all, but just an upstairs tenant.This is a mature realization most fans never grasp -- the notion that your favorite team really isn't yours at all, but just something you get to have for awhile.It is also the fatigue talking. The Maloof family, having blown up most of its outside fortune, tried to squeeze more juice from the lemon of the basketball team and the town in which it resided than there was juice to have, and the town finally gave up rather than in. It has decided to redefine the term "big league city," and the money it saved by not giving in to the Maloofs' need for a tow line will determine what kind of city Sacramento is in the future.RELATED: Report -- Virginia Beach-Kings arena details worked out
That, though, is the future. The here and now is that the Kings are performing a slow-motion funeral in a city that gave it renewed life after the wilderness years in Kansas City and Omaha, and the most-moved team in the history of North American professional sports (don't forget Rochester and Cincinnati, after all) will be moved again this time potentially to a state that has had only one other pro franchise ever, the late and largely unnoted Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association.Which, hilariously enough, began as the Oakland Oaks. Northern California -- Gateway To The Chesapeake. But we digress from today's civics lesson. As Sacramento learns to divorce itself slowly from the basketball team that helped define it, Virginia Beach has just gotten a gift from the sky sort of. It had no great professional sports aspirations, but it had a population, and then it had plans for an arena (which might be built in part by Comcast Spectacor's Global Spectrum, its venue management division, it must be noted), and then it had a team.This is all contingent, apparently, on the state of Virginia throwing 150 million to help finish the project, and as we know, that kind of money tends to make fiscal conservatives sit up, take notice and make noises. In short, this isn't actually close to being done, because state-sponsored welfare for sports teams is less popular than it used to be.But the marriage between Sacramento and the Kings is now pretty much one in name only. Those who care about the Kings have watched their personal needles move from the purple of loving the team to the red of hating the Maloofs more. They know that even if Virginia Beach doesn't happen, Seattle is heating up in the bullpen ready to make its play. And they know the Maloofs are down to the strings in their pockets, and would happily sell the team to Nova Scotia interests to get out of their ever-worsening financial jam.There are lessons here for everyone, of course. There always are. No matter what the event, there is some ethereal pinched schoolmarm standing off in the fog holding an iPad and standing in front of a whiteboard with some hellish lecture to deliver. That's one of the sucky things about moments like this -- someone is always there to tell you what it means, when you already know what it means.In Sacramento, though, it means the end. The end of a nearly 30-year relationship that started so well, became contentious and even ugly, and is now just worn out.Virginia Beach may happen, or it may collapse under the weight of local politics and legal bribery. Deals aren't deals until everyone has been dealt with.But the failure of this deal would only mean a new one down the road, and more of the scab-picking that has already wrecked Sacramento's links to the Kings. The city seems done with the entire process, and even those who still believe in some deus ex machina to save the team must know that it is just one more band-aid. They have learned that their team really isn't theirs after all, and there is no repairing that feeling once it is lost.