For most, though, it was one last chance to reflect.
Brian Martin and his wife, Chris, have lived in Sacramento since 1984 and have gone to games since the Kings moved from Kansas City in 1985. Of all the highlights they’ve witnessed, their favorite came when former Kings fan-favorite Bobby Jackson _ who was in attendance for the finale _ flew into the crowd next to them diving for a loose ball.
“A woman leaned over and just smiled and then kissed Bobby on top of his head,” said Chris, who was wearing Jackson’s old Kings jersey. “That was just so adorable.”
Soon, memories might be all that’s left.
It seems the only thing stopping the Kings from moving is a block by NBA owners. The Maloofs are scheduled to make a pitch at the NBA Board of Governors meeting that begins Thursday in New York to move the franchise to Anaheim next season, and no franchise has ever been denied permission to relocate in the 27 years under Commissioner David Stern.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson _ a former NBA All-Star _ and Anaheim officials also will attend the meeting to plead their cities’ cases. The Maloofs have until Monday to officially file for permission to relocate, and a vote would likely come within weeks of that request.
All that’s needed for approval is a simple majority.
“I’ve been in a lot of games where there’s not much time on the clock, and somehow we managed to come away with a win,” said Johnson, who was at the Kings‘ finale before leaving after the first quarter to catch a flight to New York.
“So it’s not over yet.”
Lakers coach Phil Jackson _ the man behind the Lakers‘ 2002 Western Conference finals victory over the Kings in Game 7 in Sacramento, the one who labeled the city “cow town” and soaked up every snicker and verbal jab at Kings fans for years _ felt for those at the finale.
“I’ll never forget those cowbells,” said Jackson, who might’ve heard more ringing than anybody ever behind the visitors’ bench. “I was OK with them, because I always knew fans would get tired. But when they started with the electric ones that had batteries, those really killed you.”
Not even those closest to the Kings know their future for certain.
Gary Gerould has been Sacramento’s radio play-by-play announcer since the inaugural season, and he said the team has given him no indication if he will be their announcer in Anaheim should they leave. With his family in Northern California _ his wife, several children and grandchildren _ Gerould probably wouldn’t move to Anaheim, anyway.