Sacramento has two out of the five longest sellout streaks in NBA history — the Kings have sold out all 41 home games in Sacramento for 19 out of their 28 seasons in California. And many of those seasons were when the Kings were absolutely dreadful — the Mitch Richmond, Lionel Simmons, Wayman Tisdale, Olden Polynice era.
Since 2008, the attendance has dropped mostly because the Maloofs turned into the worst owners in the NBA and actively seemed to be destroying basketball in Sacramento. Plus, Sacramento was in the midst of an economic crisis that was even worsw than the national crisis. The unemployment average and home foreclosure rates in Sacramento were significantly higher than the average throughout the nation. And during that time, not only did the Kings have really bad teams and no star player to market, but the Maloofs continued raising ticket prices. When ticket prices were lowered, the fans started filling ARCO Arena again.
And I hate to pick on Seattle because I truly do believe they deserve an NBA team, but during the 23 seasons that there were NBA teams in Sacramento and Seattle (1985-2008), the Kings averaged better attendance than the Sonics in 20 of the seasons, even though the Sonics usually had far better teams. During that time, the Kings sold out every game for 19 seasons; the Sonics sold out every game in just 6 seasons. It’s also worth pointing out that throughout the 3-year-long saga that has seen the Maloofs doing everything they can to get the Kings out of Sacramento, fans continued coming to games and showing their love for the team. During the Sonics last two seasons in Key Arena (basketball capacity: 17,072) fans in Seattle didn’t exactly show up in droves to express their support. In 2006-2007, the Sonics averaged 15,955 each home game. In their final season in Seattle, 2007-2008, the Sonics averaged 13,355 fans per game — leaving nearly 4,000 empty seats every single night. I know that Seattle fans were pissed about having a lame-duck team that was packed for Oklahoma City, but I’m just saying: that wouldn’t have happened in Sacramento. Hell, it didn’t happen in Sacramento — and the Kings looked like a lame-duck team in 2011 AND 2013.
Yes, I did. The first time was when I was leaving one of my favorite restaurants in Sacramento, the Esquire Grill, which is about a block away from the State Capitol and very close to the Hyatt Regency, which is where Governor Schwarzenegger stayed whenever he didn’t go home to Los Angeles.
I was walking out of the Esquire and held the door for a small group of obvious politicians — not an unusual sight in Downtown Sacramento on a weekday. I didn’t notice who it was immediately, but I heard him say, “Thank you,” and when I heard that unmistakable accent, I quickly said, “Uh, you’re welcome, Governor.” It wasn’t my smoothest moment. He shook my hand and was very pleasant.
I had another minor interaction with him just a few months after Obama announced he was running for President. We were putting together some sort of event in Sacramento and I had some invitations that I was supposed to drop off to potential surrogates and supporters at the Capitol. I delivered the invitations to a few State Senators and members of the State Assembly and had one to deliver to Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi. The Lieutenant Governor’s office is on the first floor, directly across the hall from the Governor’s office. When I came out of Lieutenant Governor Garamendi’s office, I saw Governor Schwarzenegger and two of his staffers walking into his office. No one else was in the hallway except one CHP officer who was standing nearby. I wanted to joke around and invite him to the Obama event, but once again, I came across like a complete nerd and just said, “Hi, Governor.” He waved as he headed into his office and I walked down the hallway thinking to myself, “Hi, Governor?! Who the hell do I think I am? Way to connect with the big wigs, Anthony.”
I saw Governor Schwarzenegger give a couple of speeches, too. One thing I noticed is that there is no way in hell that he is 6’2” as his bio says and how he was always listed as a bodybuilder. On a good day, I am a little over 5’8” and I would say that there’s no way that Schwarzenegger is more than 5’10”. Also, he must have the best tailor in the world because on each occasion that I saw him I quickly noticed how nice his business suits looked, and if you’ve ever seen my wardrobe, you’d know that I’m no expert on fashion.
More on Arnold will be coming soon because I am working on my review of his recently-released autobiography, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story (BOOK•KINDLE), which I really enjoyed and which gave me an appreciation and respect for the former Governor that I hadn’t expected.
The last time I was in Sacramento was when I moved, so it’s been since June 2010.
There are definitely some things that I miss. I love living where I am now where it’s rural and quiet and calm. I don’t ever miss hearing helicopters and sirens like I did every night for the first 30 years of my life. That was the most surprising thing that I noticed when I moved to Austin. I thought those were just the noises that you hear in every large city, but then I moved to Austin and it was quiet and I realized that what I was used to in Sacramento was not normal. (Other than the LBJ Library, I don’t miss a single thing from my one miserable year in Austin, by the way)
Maybe I should just answer your question and get back to what I do miss about Sacramento.
Of course, I miss the weather. The weather here in Missouri is exponentially better than it was in Austin, but there’s nothing better than those summer nights in Sacramento where the temperature drops down to 65 degrees even though it was 105 during the day and that beautiful Delta breeze comes off of the river. Once I moved out of Sacramento (and California overall, really), I realized that I took the great weather for granted since I had lived there all my life.
I miss Capitol Park. I loved taking a book and just chilling somewhere in Capitol Park under one of the scores of various species of trees planted in the park because so many trees from around the world can thrive in Sacramento’s climate. Or just walked around Capitol Park after catching dinner somewhere downtown. I really miss getting a nice cigar from Rodney’s or the tobacco shop on Front Street in Old Sac, and enjoying it while walking and talking with a friend along the palm-lined sidewalks surrounding the Capitol. Or strolling through Capitol Park with a girl, looking at the monuments and the orange trees, and showing her where, if you stand just right, you can peek into the Governor’s first-floor corner office and sometimes see the Governor sitting at his desk.
I miss Round Table Pizza and Pizza Guys. There’s a 40% chance that I’ll move back to Sacramento just because I can’t live much longer without having Round Table or, if I don’t want to spend as much money, Pizza Guys. I can’t believe Round Table isn’t a national chain. The rest of this country is missing out. If everyone had Round Table Pizza, we would all be happy and prosperous and there would be peace in the Middle East.
I miss having a nice, stiff drink and lounging around like a gentleman in the bar in the lobby of the Sheraton Grand. Or having a pricey, tasty margarita in the bar of the Delta King. Or having a lot of cheap, tasty margaritas at Chevy’s on the River.
I miss Time Tested Books on 21st Street in Midtown and the piles of used books at the Book Nook on Madison Avenue where I found some real treasures over the years.
I miss going to Sacramento Kings games and lunch at the Esquire Grill. I miss being so close to San Francisco and the coast as well as Reno, Tahoe, and the Sierra.
I miss living within walking distance of a Trader Joe’s. I miss Temple Coffee House on 9th Street, and I’m pissed because they waited until I moved and then opened a new location in my old neighborhood!
There are probably some more things, but those are what I think about from time-to-time. Except for both Round Table Pizza and Pizza Guys, which I usually think about for an average of no less than three hours each day. Despite the things that I miss, I’m still very happy to be where I am and doing what I am doing. The only time I consider moving back to Sacramento is when I want pizza, so I think that’s a good sign.
Shit, now I’m hungry.
When I was in 7th grade, I ran for student council President at my junior high school because it meant that I had a free period where I didn’t have to do anything. But I lost to a girl even though she had way less friends than I did and despite the fact that my friends and I did our best to stuff the ballot boxes, buy votes with cigarettes that some kids from the neighborhood stole from Circle K, and threaten kids who didn’t want to vote (or didn’t plan to vote for me). It was some gangsta, Boss Tweed/Tammany Hall shit (we were 13 years old), yet somehow, when the votes got counted, the teachers decided that this girl was a better representative as class President than innocent, hard-working, empathetic, smart, tough, puppy-loving, handsome, man of the people, Anthony Bergen. I mean, I had a Stussy backpack that I got at the legendary Surf & Skate on Arden Way for Christ’s sake! I was unbeatable!
In retrospect, I guess that I can’t say that it was a miscarriage of justice because, in all honesty, my supporters and I did make a concerted effort to steal the election (Did I mention we were 13?). I guess it was a miscarriage of injustice.
Anyway, she became class President and I had to settle for Vice President because, apparently, our election rules were modeled after U.S. Presidential elections prior to the passage of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804. I openly plotted her assassination, but she made it to 8th grade safely. Being Vice President at the student council sucked, though, and my job largely consisted of me glaring angrily at the President during student council meetings.
Why would I have changed the outcome of this election? I wanted the power. The influence. The girls that obviously would have come along with the job. I wanted to require everyone in my class to call me “Mr. President” and to allow me to cut into the front of the line at lunch so that I could get my order of Round Table Pizza before they ran out as they invariably did, EVERY SINGLE DAY, at my junior high school. I had big plans and a wide-ranging vision — not for my class or for the school, but for myself and my clique — and it was robbed from me after I took every shortcut and backdoor possible in order to make sure that I stole the election fair-and-square.
But, no, “the man” kept me down. And by “the man”, I mean our principal who looking like Mr. Belding from Saved By The Bell and had the shiniest bald head. I STOLE THAT ELECTION FAIRLY AND EFFICIENTLY, GODDAMMIT! IT WAS MY TIME!
I’m not bitter, though.