The Orlando Magic sent the Sacramento Kings to their 47th defeat in 62 tries last night, 106-102, but losing games isn't Sacramento's greatest concern right now: it's losing its team. The Maloof brothers, who own the team, are looking to move to Anaheim next season, which would rob Sacramento's famously loud, proud fans of their only major pro sports franchise. Tom Ziller, SB Nation's NBA editor and the manager of the Sactown Royalty blog, has already outlined 19 reasons why moving the team is just an awful idea, and I don't wish to rehash his brilliant work in this space.
Clearly, readers of this post might have some questions. Why should they care about the fate of a team with no real ties to the Magic located on the opposite coast? To me, there's a simple answer: what fate befalls one small-market team affects all small-market teams. Had the Magic not secured funding and broken ground on Amway Center, their magnificent new facility, just months before the worldwide economic collapse, Orlando would find itself in a situation not dissimilar to Sacramento's. It'd have an NBA team playing in an antiquated arena for owners who are losing millions of dollars per year. I believe the Magic would already have moved, or be in he process of moving, were it not for Amway Center's completion.
The Seattle SuperSonics' relocation to Oklahoma City in 2008, and subsequent rebranding as the Thunder, set a nasty precedent in the NBA: if taxpayers are unable or unwilling to come up with the funds to furnish teams with new arenas, then those teams as we know them are toast. The Kings' move, which appears to be nearly imminent, would continue that trend, despite loyal support from Sacramento's fans for more than 20 years. When the team plays well, it tends to sell out its games. Even in down years, the Kings' building can get loud; against the Magic last night, the fans at Power Balance Pavilion enthusiastically and boisterously cheered their team as it nearly toppled the Magic, despite not filling Power Balance Pavilion to capacity.
The Kings' fans make noise away from the former ARCO Arena as well, and have organized a grassroots effort, called Here We Stay, to do everything in their power to dissuade the Maloofs from moving. You can follow Here We Stay on Twitter and Facebook. I urge you, Magic fans, as people who have a vested interest in ensuring the NBA's viability in small markets, to support Here We Stay's efforts. After all, you would want fans of other teams to stick up for you if the Magic were already packing for Kansas City.