In a matter of days the question so many have agonized over for years will be answered. Will the Kings remain a part of our city and our area well into the future?
Way back in 1985 when the swashbuckling Gregg Luckenbill and his partners brought the then talent-deprived Kings from Kansas City, no one was asking that question. Jubilation reigned on opening night at the first Kings arena. And it lasted for years, sellout after sellout. At last we might be able to shake that incomprehensible inferiority complex that had settled like a shroud for years over Sacramento.
You heard it everywhere: If you want great restaurants, go to San Francisco, The City. It was the same for theater and the arts, for sports, for high-end shopping, simply for a good time.
It made you scream and dream of creating a bumper sticker: "This is The City." But the feeling was pervasive, and it has taken many turns of the calendar to wipe it from our collective psyche. We couldn't see beyond the precipice of our own prejudices and missed the beauty of the rainbow that existed in our own backyard. It shouldn't have been so.
Let's revisit the words that Bill Glackin, the late, wonderful arts critic at The Bee, wrote about saving the ballet: "There is a life of the spirit in all of us that is as vital to our existence as the hard, wearying business of staying fed and alive. It has to do with truth and beauty words hardly to be mentioned these days and it can be found in memorable, lasting ways in paintings and plays, dancing and music, museums and books, and, yes, on the fields of sport, in great athletes, as well as great dancers. In the best performers and writers and players, we find this spiritual impulse in a high and precious form."
We can't let that old inferiority feeling gain ground again, even though there are those who would peddle it.
A couple of weeks ago on ESPN 1320, a radio talker, Jonathan Coachman, was playing the "One Word" game, a lame imitation of the "Pardon the Interruption" version. His reaction to the NBA committee decision that the Kings should stay in Sacramento: "Snore," as in boring.
He recalled that during his days as commentator, interviewer and wrestler with the World Wrestling Federation he was here on a Fourth of July and after the show he couldn't find a place to get a drink. (You wouldn't pick him for your scavenger hunt team.)
The arena, he said, was in the middle of nowhere, and Seattle would have a new one in the middle of downtown. (Where is the new arena going here? Great reporting, Coach.)
The decision, thank goodness, doesn't rest with the likes of Coachman or any other outside observer. It rests with the NBA owners.
But the decision about Sacramento's future doesn't rest with the NBA or with the Kings. It rests with everyone who lives or works or plays or prays in our area.
Theater has blossomed and ground will soon be broken for a new B Street. Have you been to the Crocker lately, or to the Mondavi Center for Performing Arts, or to hear the Philharmonic Orchestra? Experience the many dining establishments that offer dishes representing every part of the world. Go to Raley Field for a River Cats game on a summer night. Visit the state Capitol. Walk through the UC Davis Medical Center campus, a jewel in the middle of the capital city where incredible research on the mind and body is happening every day. Or look at the expansion of health services at Sutter, Mercy and Kaiser. And remember that tens of thousands of students are continuing their educations at our colleges and universities and community colleges. The list goes on.
This is a city and an area in which we can be proud, but continue to push harder to be better, with or without the Kings, although we deeply hope with them.
Years ago, Luckenbill took me on two tours. One in the nearly finished Hyatt Hotel on L Street, the other in what is now Sleep Train Arena. The arena had not been christened, and we walked, quite reluctantly on my part, in the highest rafters, looking down below on what Gregg saw as a completion of a dream.
Now the arena has gathered lots of rust, the team too often reflects the same tired appearance, and the current owners, whose name sounds something like aloof, are rushing to follow the money and head out of town, which is fine.
Just leave the Kings, and to everyone else, leave that inferiority complex buried in the past.
Gregory Favre is the former executive editor of The Bee and vice president of news for The McClatchy Co.