Joe and Gavin Maloof have owned and operated the NBA’s Sacramento Kings since 1999. They have an obscene amount of money, like most team owners. And, like many owners — the Clippers’ Donald Sterling comes to mind — the Maloofs are huge assholes.
Despite assurances to the contrary, it looks very likely that the Maloofs will move the Kings from Sacramento due to displeasure over fees and costs of a new stadium. Sacramento mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson has already expressed his disapproval, and fans — fans who thought their “Here We Stay” campaign had succeeded in keeping the Kings at home — are livid.
If the Kings do have to leave, though, here are a few suggestions for where they should move. (They’re probably going to move to Anaheim, but then they’d HAVE to be known as the Los Angeles Kings of Anaheim, and there’s already a Los Angeles Kings team — in the NHL; Wayne Gretzky played for them, once! — and that’s way too confusing.)
Chicago already has an NBA team, you say. Yes, I say, but the city could support another one — it does have two baseball teams — and the basketball team it does have is a beloved franchise with a tremendous legacy.
Also, it would be consistent with having terrible owners play second-fiddle to another team in their city. (Looking at you, Sterling.)
3. Kansas City
Kansas City gets its old team back! KC has shown an ability to successfully support NFL, MLS, and MLB teams. (OK, maybe it’s a stretch to use the word “successful” in connection with the Royals. In any way.) Plus, as the Oklahoma City Thunder have shown, the Midwest seems ripe for NBA teams; if a Kansas City fanbase were half as passionate as OKC’s is, the new team would be in great shape.
Another former home of the Sacramento Kings (though when they were in Cincy they were the Royals), has shown a deep love for basketball, as evidenced by its well-supported college teams. And the return of the Kings (heh) woud be a stellar complement to the University of Cincinnati and Xavier. Aside from that, the city already supports a few pro teams, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to see them accommodating another. And just for pity’s sake, any fanbase that has to pull for the Bengals deserves something else to pin their hopes on.
Bring back the SuperSonics! Maybe the coolest-named franchise in sports, the Sonics were stripped from Seattle in 2008 and sent to Oklahoma City, where they became the Thunder. (It can’t feel good to have a team leave you for OKLAHOMA CITY.) I’m not sure what the legality is of renaming the Kings if they were to move to Seattle, but no matter what they were called, the city would certainly love to have a basketball team again.
6. Mexico City
CANADA HAS A TEAM. So why not try American pro sports in Mexico? Yes, it isn’t as easy to get across the U.S.-Mexico border as it is the U.S.-Canada one, and yes, this would be kind of an unconventional move, but for foolhardy Vegas-baiting businessmen like the Maloofs, it might have some appeal. The city has almost 10 million residents, which means there’s certainly enough people to make a healthy fanbase, even if everyone doesn’t buy in. And there is a domestic Mexican basketball league, so it’s not like you’re dropping anything on the country that it doesn’t understand. I mean, just imagine how hostile of an environment all these soccer-weaned fans would create for visiting teams?
7. Las Vegas
The Maloofs, who have done business in Vegas in the past, really deserve the unique economic and sociopolitical problems that would come from bringing a team to the dying city. Based on how much fun the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Running Rebels are, though, a pro basketball team in Vegas would be exciting as hell, and probably prone to some unique and hilarious off-court problems. Who knows what crazy things players would lose to gambling creditors! Also, now that we’re on the subject, kind of surprised that Michael Jordan hasn’t moved the Bobcats here already.
London’s so hot right now. The city’s getting a taste of NBA basketball this summer when it hosts the Olympics, and the NFL plays there; there’s constant chatter about a football team eventually ending up in the English metropolis. Of course, it makes way more sense for the NFL than the NBA — when you’re playing 82 games a season, a travel schedule that included London would be excruciating — but scooping the NFL by moving there first sounds like exactly the kind of thing that Donald Stern would do. AND then everyone could talk in obnoxious British accents whenever they discussed the team! It’s a win-win for everyone, except the players. Just pay them more! Maybe they could take the Concord out of retirement and use it as the team’s private jet.
9. The Emerald City
Oz has been clamoring for a franchise for years now, and this seems like the perfect opportunity to give them their very own. Locating a sports team in an imaginary city might be a bold move, but if the league’s fortunes are going to continue to grow, risks must be taken in some quarters. Besides which, have you ever seen their domestic league? Munchkins aren’t ideal for basketball. Giving them an NBA team’s the least we can do.
10. The Moon
On second thought, let’s just send the Maloofs here. The team can stay in Sacramento.