Kings fans turn out with team on brink
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – There were jeers and sneers here at Sleep Train Arena on Thursday night. Lots of them.
But here’s the most surprising part: they were the old-fashioned kind that can be found in NBA arenas the league over, the kind aimed at officials who oversaw a game between the Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks that was strangely, well, normal.
You could hardly tell that this city was on the brink of losing its only major professional sports team – again.
The boos that would have rained down on the Maloof family that is considering selling their team to Seattle were a non-factor, of course, because the Kings owners were no-shows yet again. If the Maloofs weren’t on hand in the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s revelation that a deal with the Seattle-based group headed by Chris Hansen (a hedge fund manager), Steve Ballmer (Microsoft CEO) and the Nordstrom family was in the works, then they certainly weren’t going to stop by for this.
So the locals did what they’ve so often done since the team came here in 1985, showing up in droves (the 14,011 attendance was above the league-low season average of 13,221) and providing quite the impressive sideshow to the main attraction that was a 117-112 Mavericks win in overtime. As if that wasn’t counter-intuitive enough, there was this: a Seattle area native, Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas, was shown more love than anyone when he banked a three-pointer that forced the extra period.
As Thomas took questions afterward, there was no avoiding the fact that this 23-year-old who played at the University of Washington and was the last pick of the 2011 draft symbolized this situation in the strangest of ways. Before Seattle entered this picture, Thomas – more than any other Kings player – had endeared himself to the community by standing strong for his adopted city.
He was an instant fan favorite, the 5-foot-9 dynamo with the megawatt smile who was making the most of this opportunity that some weren’t sure he’d ever have coming out of college. When the Sacramento City Council voted 7-2 in favor … [For more on Sacramento fans turn out with team on brink: NBA A-Z, click here.]