A love letter

I love you. I openly admit it.  You have been such a huge part of my life, I can’t imagine my world without you. And now, just as quickly as you came into my life, you’re gone. Arco Arena is no more.

I remember my first game at what was affectionately known as “The Old Barn.”  December 29, 1992. My cousin and his then girlfriend took me on the way to San Jose where I spent the weekend with my aunt and uncle. Over 20 years have past since that day, and the memory of a 14 year old boy has now become a bit hazy. But I remember loving it. I loved every second I was there.

I always say Sacramento is a city unlike any other. And I am proud to be from here. Not like Phil who went to Los Angeles for college. Ick.  And I am proud of Arco Arena (I feel bad because technically it’s Sleep Train Arena, but I’m not calling it that).  Wooden floors, seats that don’t match and were falling apart. Leaky roof. All of it.

And I was there. I remember going to a game in college all by myself and spending waaay to much just to sit 4 rows behind Kevin Garnett.

When the Kings won game 3 against Utah in the playoffs in 1999, I was there.  My friend Ryan drove up from San Luis Obispo (about 4-5 hours) just for the game. Along with our friends Turner and another Ryan, we screamed as the Kings won. The game was on TNT, and we thought it was TBS.  We took a sign letting the world know that we thought Jazz forward “Thurl Bailey Sucks.” Because the letters matched and we were convinced that would get us on TV.  Oops.  But it didn’t matter because we were there.  I was there for game 4 too, but John Stockton ruined that one.

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Hi five line

Last season, I squeezed into a middle school to join the high five line to get onto the court!  Also, I am squeezed into a medium t-shit.  On top of my jersey, and undershirt.  And t-shirt that was the give away that night.  Soo it was snug.  If you look at my profile picture on wordpress, I met my dream girl, Harley Quinn at Arco one night.

I saw Peja Stojakovic tie a game that was TECHNICALLY after the buzzer.  But hey it counted.  Check out Olden Polynice in the background.  A former King who had no problem letting us know what he thought of the constant “O.P. SUCKS!!  O.P. SUCKS” chants that we berated him with the entire game.

IMG_3071My buddy Bill and I still talk about the first game Jon Barry played back in Arco after being traded to the Pistons. He got a standing ovation and patted his heart as he entered the game.  We were there. Our other favorite moment was the night we were trying to get standing room only tickets and a cop walks up to us and asks if we are looking for tickets. Uh… Not from a cop!!  But he was simply letting us know the box office had tickets available. But it’s still a great story to us.

I saw Chris Webber get his jersey retired. Phil and I were there for Opening Night 2013 after the team was blocked from being sold to Seattle.

Phil, Eric and Bill

Phil, Eric and Bill Opening Night 2013

I got to sit in half a dozen luxury boxes and even got to shoot a half court shot to win a truck one night.  I hit the rim and until the very end, I thought I’d made it.  After you miss, they let you shoot a three point shot for $300 towards that new truck. I made the shot (because, please. I’m awesome), but I liked my car, so that was $300 wasted.

The view from an Arco luxury box

The view from an Arco luxury box

I have pins and t-shirts from at least 10 opening nights. I saw Pearl Jam, Toby Keith, and Jim Rome inside those walls.  My oldest daughter saw her first game at Arco. And both my daughters saw two Disney on Ice shows.

Saturday night was an amazing way to close the building.  So many players I cheered for walked through the doors one final time. And to top it off, a huge win. It was perfect. I couldn’t have picked a better way to say goodbye. For all the wins, for all the losses. For the ones I was there for and the ones I wasn’t. The joys and the heartbreak, there is no place like Arco Arena. IMG_4026

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You don’t think the players care about moving out the worst arena in the NBA?  In this town they do.  Because it’s Sacramento.  We are different.  If you’re not from here, you wouldn’t understand.

The Golden 1 Center will open later this year. And it may have wi-fi, seats that work, toilets that flush, and a locker room that’s actually big enough for a basketball team, but it’s just a building. It’s not home.

Arco is where we were Playing to Win. It’s where HERE WE STAY was born. And PROUD began.  It may be a sh*thole, but it was our sh*thole. I will never forget you. And I love you.  IMG_4031

Playing to Win

I just wanted to show this off because I am super excited.  Phil and I have talked a few times about the battle to keep our beloved Sacramento Kings.  It was a long fight with Anaheim, then Seattle and a few teams in between.  We won, and this year there will be two documentaries made about our town and our team.  One is an ESPN 30 for 30, and the other is a local documentary made by the group who went on the cross country trip regaling people in NBA cities with our plight.  This one is coming out first, this spring.  The trailer was released today.  Here it is.  It has been a long two years, and a lot of memories are brought up:

http://www.playingtowindoc.com/

Forever Purple

Here in California’s capital city, tomorrow is a VERY important day.  There is so much going on!  First of all, it’s Tuesday which means my oldest daughter goes to pre-school (YAY!!) so I get a couple hours with just the baby.  So it’s quieter around here.  The sanity level goes up.  But tomorrow night is where the real action heats up.

Downtown, it’s the weekly city council meeting.  Around these parts, for the past year city council meetings have been a big deal.  Ever since that dickbag Chris Hansen and Seattle tried to steal our beloved Sacramento Kings, the council has had vote after vote on Kings related matters.  Mostly about the new arena.  Tomorrow is the final vote!  The team has already bought the mall that the new arena will sit on.  As soon as the vote passes, the team president, Chris Granger has said they are going to go downtown and turn off the power.  Part of me is sad because when that mall was full, it was a great open air place to shop.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t been more than half full of stores in….1o years?  They are expecting so many people downtown they are putting up TVs outside of City Hall for those who cannot get in and want to watch outside.  I was one of these people who wanted to watch outside.  I wanted to go with Phil.  But he wanted to go bowling instead.  What a jerk, right?

Tomorrow is also important because it’s the NBA draft lottery!  The Kings have the 7th spot right now with virtually no chance of getting into the top 3.  They have picked 7th every year they’ve been in Sacramento.  Okay maybe it just seems that way.  But they have selected Lionel Simmons, Bobby Hurley, Jason Williams, they traded down from 7 to draft Jimmer Fredette (wow that trade is still horrible), Ben McLemore, and the best 7th pick in the history of sports, Walt Williams.  See?  They are there a lot.  Now, there really isn’t much suspense tomorrow with the lottery.  The Los Angeles Lakers WILL get the #1 pick.  I am one of the conspiracy theorists who believe the lottery is fixed.  I will be shocked if the Lakers don’t get the first pick.  And equally shocked if the Kings do.

The other cool thing that the Kings are doing for the draft is what they are calling “Draft 3.0.”    I think it is so great that the front office is trying to use any and all people they can to get all the information on every possible player in college to make the right pick.  There are probably people who think that if general manager is reaching out to fans, maybe they need a new general manager.  I am not one of those people.  If there is a different side, I say there is no reason not to look at it.  It is wonderful.

I admit, I am way too stupid to put my own vote in on the page.  I started getting into the major stats just a few years ago with baseball.  I am still learning there.  I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to basketball.  All I know is, I really don’t want the Kings to draft yet ANOTHER point guard.  Yes, I’m sure Marcus Smart is amazing.  Dante Exum seems really really good.  But come on.  Something other than another damn point guard!!

Save Their Bucks

Phil and I are from Sacramento.  Born and raised.  One of us even stayed in town for college.  For the purposes of this post, let’s pretend that was intentional.  Go Hornets!! We spent the last half dozen years worrying about whether or not our beloved Kings were going to leave town.  And the previous half dozen, the d*ckless owners were trying to move the team, unbeknownst to the city and all of us fans.  We had to fight off battles with Las Vegas, Anaheim, Virginia Beach and the biggest of them all, Seattle.

Last year, between February and May, every day was an emotional roller coaster.  It was difficult to read Twitter.  Journalists and so-called experts from around the country were predicting the demise of the Kings and the return of the SuperSonics.  Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer offered a record price to buy the team.  Then our savior, Vivek Ranadive stepped in and saved the team.  And saved our city.  Phil and I were at the rally downtown.  We were at opening night against the Denver Nuggets.  Those are two nights I will never forget.  I have been lucky enough to go to two other games this season.  And now another team needs help.

Tomorrow night, the Kings are in Milwaukee to start a seven game road trip.  It has been rumored ever since the Kings transaction fell through that the greedy pricks in Seattle would take a run at the Bucks franchise and try to move them.  The reason is the same there as it was here.  They need a new arena just as badly as the Kings do.  Luckily for us, the city here has approved one and there will be shovels in the ground in September!  But this is about Milwaukee.

Here in Sacramento, the group to save the team was Crown Downtown.  The news was all over http://www.sactownroyalty.com.   All over town, and inside Sleep Train Arena fans chanted HERE WE STAY!  In Milwaukee, the site is simply www.saveourbucks.com.  They need all the help they can get.  Just as we did here.  Personally, I don’t care how they do on the court.  I hope they lose by 100 tomorrow night.  I want Demarcus Cousins to run over everyone.  But off the court, I never want anyone to go through what we had to go through here.  I follow the group on Twitter, @saveourbucks.

If it’s not Milwaukee, it’ll be Charlotte.  Or Toronto.  Or some other small market team.  Follow Save Our Bucks on Twitter.  Show your support, if you care about saving an NBA team in a city that deserves it.  I hope Seattle gets a team someday, I really do.  I just hope it’s an expansion team.  Stop trying to steal everyone elses team.  I’m sorry your old owner was a horrible owner and sold your team to Oklahoma City.  Sucks to be you.  Leave Milwaukee alone.  Bucks fans, if you need any help or advice, we wrote the book on how to save your team.  We are happy to help in any way we can.  But tomorrow night, I hope your team score 50 points.

All Star Saturday Night

Last Saturday, Phil and I went out and played a little golf.  Started out so well.  I lipped out a birdie putt on the 1st.  Ended up with par.  Parred two other holes the rest of the day.  I have no idea how many pars Phil ended up with.  All I know is I won.  Of course I did.  Just like fantasy football, in which I went 2-0 against Phil this season (and am 6-2 all time against him), Phil can’t beat me.  I’m in his head.  What’s that?  What were our final scores?  Well that’s none of your damn business.

That brings me to next weekend.  Every year I throw a party for the NBA’s All-Star Saturday Night.  And Phil is actually going to show up.  So I’m taking all bets!  Phil, you can pick any player in any of the events, and I will still win.

Three point shootout?  You want Steph Curry?  Yeah that’s a good bet.  He’s totally going to win.  I’ll take Kevin Love.  A guy wearing 42?  Duh.

The Skills challenge?  This event totally sucks.  But I still think Dragic wins.  But you can pick whoever you want.  The Greek Freak?  Take him.

Except for the slam dunk contest.  I call dibs on Flight 16.

Opening Night

I know, I know.  You’re thinking, Eric, opening night was a week ago!  Get off my back!  Phil and I went to opening night for the Sacramento Kings last Wednesday night.  And it was amazing.  Let me get a few things out of the way first.

I live about 35-40 minutes away from the arena.  I had to pick up three guys (including Phil’s lazy ass.  You’re welcome by the way) and drop off my daughters at my wife’s office.  I was in the car a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes!!  I have never been more excited for the new arena.  Including, what should have been a half hour trip after the drop off, taking an hour and 15 minutes.  When the new arena is built, I can take the light rail train from 15 minutes from my house right to the arena.  And drink.  Always drink on the train.  Phil can ride his bike from his office 2 minutes to the arena.  And I can avoid downtown in my car.  2016 cannot come soon enough.

IMG_1205[1]So here is a picture from the parking lot of Sleep Train Arena!  If you’ve read any of our other posts with photos, you’ll know that’s me in front and Phil on the far right.  Our friend Bill is between us, and Ryan is hiding behind me drinking my favorite beer, Moosehead Lager.  It was a Purple Out so we are all wearing purple.  Except Phil.  He was too cool to wear a purple shirt.  Luckily for him, they were giving away purple shirts to everyone once we got inside.

IMG_1206[1]There was a fanfest going on.  By this point it was getting really close to time to go inside so we didn’t get to enjoy any of the activities.  Sucked because a lot of the stuff looked pretty fun.  I’m pretty pissed because I took some photos of the friends we met up with, but the pictures didn’t turn out.  I love the action photos and there was beer everywhere.  I do love the new sign that adorns the side of Sleep Train.  Kings: 1985-Forever always gets me a little choked up!

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Outside of the arena, there is a tribute statue to us!  The sixth man!  For those unfamiliar with basketball, the sixth man is the fans.  So that’s Phil on the far left, me next to him and Bill on the the right.  And yes, I’m wearing a custom made Walt Williams Jersey.  And its spectacular.

This is where the pictures get a little crappy.  We were in the upper deck and apparently the camera on my phone doesn’t like being that high up.  So I’ll just throw them in here.

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This is the Arena from our seats…obviously.

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Warmups

Ugh I’m super pissed.  I took video of the introductions.  But the audio in the top deck is terrible.  But I don’t want the new owners to fix anything.  Why spend the money?  It’s really not worth it.  So I’m not going to post that.

Phil and I loved it.  And the Kings won!!  Jason Thompson with a HUGE putback dunk with a minute left gave the Kings a 90-88 victory over the Denver Nuggets!!  A group of 20 guys going to the game was a great way to open the season.  I can’t wait till we go again.  Phil?  When will that be?  Let’s go!  At least lets do some bar hopping!

 

Long Live the Kings Rally

IMG_0789[1]Last Thursday, Phil and I, along with our Buddy Nez, attended the rally celebrating of our beloved Sacramento Kings staying in town for at least the next 35 years.  I say 35 years because that will be the lease on the new building, but they will be in Sacramento for as long as I am alive.  And the way I live, if I live 35 years, that will be an accomplishment, so let’s just call it a a wash.  The picture at the left is what was on the ground as we entered the park.

As a stay home dad, I had the luxury of not being required to request time off of work to make it to the rally.  As a parent, required to take care of two children, I was completely dependent on my wife to get off of work before I could go.  Luckily, she works five minutes from a Sacramento Rapid Transit station.

IMG_0787[1]So Nez and I meet up and take the light rail from our area down towards Phil, who lives minutes from the park.  Yeah, he lives where all the action happens.  But, on the plus side, he didn’t get to pre-game the whole way there.  That’s Nez on the left, me on the Right.  The ride took about 45 minutes and we met a ton of people who were going to the rally.  Just proves there are Kings fans EVERYWHERE.

When we got off the train, we found the end of the line to get into the park.  I know what you’re thinking.  A line to get into a park?  Yeah, but they were wanding everyone, so that’s the way it had to be.  I get it.  The line was wrapped around four blocks.  It was going to take forever to get into the park.  Thank God for Phil!  He was standing in line with a few of his buddies and a few minutes later when we navigated the downtown labyrinth, we found him!! We were in within 30 seconds.

IMG_0790[1]After grabbing our wristbands, and another couple of beers, we found a good, but not great place to watch the festivities.  I wanted to walk around, so Nez and I took off leaving Phil behind.  And I am so glad we did  We got our Kings signs at the 102.5 booth, and the News 10 booths, but it was after this that the action really picked up!!!  Beers in hand, we are making our way through the crowds and I spot a man wearing a suit.  Completely out of place in a setting like this.  Its a sea of purple, white and black.  This guy has to be someone important.  Sure enough, he has a VIP badge on.  I see the name on the VIP Badge.  Nez has no idea who it is.  Luckily for us, I pay attention to Kings news.  And I know that we are about to meet….

IMG_0820[1]Chris Kelly!  And he was incredibly cool.  Granted, it seemed like no one recognized him, as people were passing him by left and right.  But I was sooooo happy to know who he was.  For those who don’t know, Chris Kelly is the former CFO of Facebook, and one of the big BIG members of the new Kings ownership group.  As you can see, he was more than gracious.  Shaking hands, taking pictures.  I mean, that’s obviously what he was there to do, being as he was in the area of the regular folk like me, but still, I must admit, I was pretty star struck to see Kelly.  And I don’t get star struck around celebrities.  Not that I see celebrities often.  But when I do, I don’t care.  I mean, I did give up my parking spot to Candice Bergen once, but no biggie.

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Chris Kelly

The rest of the night as you can see from the pictures below was just an amazing night to be a Kings fan.  Maybe Phil will post his thoughts as well.  Vivek Ranadive, the main owner of Kings spoke and I screamed so loud, my throat still hurts.

As the night drew to a close, we found one more thing to take a picture with that I couldn’t pass up.  For a month, local hero, Carmichael Dave, took two of his friends on a trek across the country spreading the gospel of the Kings.  They called it the Playing to Win Tour.  They were trapped in an RV, travelling from NBA city to city getting fans, executives, even the Oklahoma City mayor to sign the RV supporting us.  The RV ended up in NYC for the relocation committee vote, and eventually back at the rally.  Well, I had to pose with it.

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Former Kings greats where there, from Mitch Richmond, to Chris Webber.  Bobby Jackson to Scot Pollard.  Unfortunately, from where we were standing, we didn’t have the best shots of the stage.  But for those who were there, it was a night they will never forget.  Those who missed it will hear about it for a long time.  Because we all know it’s all about the pictures and the memories that we share as friends.  And I know that I can go up to any of the 15,000 people who were there and have a conversation about it like we were old friends.

Like this video says, long live the memories.  And long live the Kings.

Jason Ross

Jason Ross

The High Flyer Henry Turner

The High Flyer Henry Turner

Sacramento Kings Dancers

Sacramento Kings Dancers

Jerry Reynolds

Jerry Reynolds