The NBA has been hit hard in some cities by declining attendance, and perhaps no team has seen such a huge fall than the Sacramento Kings. Even in the ’80s and ’90s when the Kings rarely had a competitive team, the fans packed Arco Arena. But with the Kings returning to futility after several years of relevance, the fans have finally jumped off the bandwagon.
(Drink up, Kings fans, it’s not getting better anytime soon)
So how are the Maloofs going to get butts back in the seats? Jersey retirements! That’s right, after the multiple NBA championships they brought to central California, Vlade Divac and Chris Webber’s numbers are going up to the rafters. I guess Lionel Simmons is busy or something.
Sacramento is averaging just 11,979 fans per game so far this season, which is worse than any team other than Memphis. It’s a bit of a stunning fall for the Maloofs, who looked like geniuses earlier this decade when they had built an empire in one of the league’s smallest markets.
This year? Not so much. The SACRAMENTO NEWS REVIEW has the embarrassing details of how the Maloof’s tried to “hippify” the in-game experience for their flailing franchise:
MS&E made a lot of tweaks to the Sacramento NBA experience, the most obvious, and flagrant, being the live band that performed during players’ introductions and at halftime. It was a surefire buzzkill, one that many argue single-handedly brought down the 1980s: buttrock, by way of Rev Theory, Maloof Music act and Girls Gone Wild Rocks America tour alum. They performed atop a riser in section 120, which overtook some 75 unsold lower-level seats. Announcer Scott Moak introduced the players and Rev rocked—”Give ’em hell, yeah!” And pretty much every fan sat agape, confused. “Where’s my order of metal riffage and 20-something ladies in 12-year-olds’ gymwear?”
The Maloofs have long been rumored to want to move the franchise to Las Vegas, but since the NBA’s All-Star weekend a couple of years ago there ended up being a total debacle, the likelihood of David Stern approving that move is less than zero. So they’re stuck in Sacramento trying to sell a crappy team in one of the foreclosure capitals of the country.
The SACRAMENTO BEE’s KINGS BLOG has the details of the upcoming jersey retirements:
The retirement date for Divac appears set: March 31, during pregame festivities when the New Orleans Hornets and fellow Serbia native Peja Stojakovic visit.
The date for Webber’s ceremony still is being discussed. The Kings are working to accommodate their former power forward and his business obligations, including his duties as a TNT analyst. The best guess here is sometime in February or early March.
Divac was going to lift his own banner to the ceiling, but the team is afraid he’ll suddenly go flying into the scorer’s table during the ceremony.