Would your Lakers' allegiance be affected if Kings move to Anaheim?
Kobe Bryant is not one to wax sentimental over his storied 15-year career, including his five NBA titles, four All-Star MVPs, two NBA Finals MVPs, one regular-season MVP and a current seventh-place standing on the league's all-time scoring list. So he certainly wasn't going to be giddy for a preseason game last year against the Utah Jazz at the Honda Center in Anaheim, a homecoming of sorts for the Newport Beach resident.
"Most of the people from Anaheim come down here," Bryant said at the time. "I know that because I run into all of them because I'm out and about all the time. But it's fun playing in the Pond because I know how badly they want a team down there in Orange County and they definitely deserve one."
Bryant made those comments leading up to the Lakers' preseason game Oct. 19, 2010, against the Utah Jazz in general terms. But it's fairly relevant now considering the possibility the Sacramento Kings would relocate to Anaheim. The NBA on Tuesday gave the Kings until April 18 to apply to relocate the team next season so that the Kings owners', Joe, Gavin and George Maloof, could discuss the organization's future with the NBA Board of Governors on April 14 and 15. The Orange County Register's Randy Youngman noted that the Maloof brothers have negotiated for months with officials from Anaheim Arena Management, the company owned by Henry Samueli that operates the Honda Center, since they've struggled finding funding for a new venue in place of Arco Arena.
It's not definite whether this would happen considering it would require a majority vote from the 29 other NBA owners. But it's safe to say the Lakers would vote no. ESPN.com's Marc Stein cites unnamed sources that indicate the Lakers strongly oppose the possible move. The Times' Mike Bresnahan reports that the Lakers and Clippers "would get a small share of a relocation fee paid by the Kings' owners, but it wouldn't be as financially sound as maintaining an absolute grip on sales of pro basketball tickets and merchandise in the region." And Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, who's often taken digs at the city of Sacramento, argued the team should stay there, citing concerns of an oversaturated L.A. market and his wish that the team doesn't fold under.
But what do Laker fans think? Would a move to Anaheim prompt you to change allegiances, or at least consider rooting for the Kings when they're not playing the Lakers? Would you feel more enticed to buy tickets to go to the Honda Center rather than Staples Center for reasons including location, affordability and demand? Or would the Lakers still remain untouched?
That's how it's mostly played out with the Lakers and Clippers. Even with more buzz surrounding Blake Griffin, Clippers guard Eric Gordon told The Times' Lisa Dillman he'd like it if the Clippers played in a different venue instead of Staples Center so they wouldn't feel as overshadowed. Meanwhile, Bryant sounded well aware that even if the Lakers are the main attraction, another NBA team could somewhat diminish the team's thunder.
"It's a beautiful place," Bryant said of Honda Center. "You see how they support the Ducks and how they support the Angels. I think having a basketball team is well deserving. Hopefully it doesn't happen until I retire. That way, we can continue to have their allegiance to the Lakers. But I think it's a beautiful city."
So what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is pressured by Utah guard Raja Bell during an exhibition game Oct. 19, 2010, at Honda Center in Anaheim. Credit: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press