The crowd at Verizon Center held the usual collage of both Wizards and opponent jerseys. But mixed in with the groups of Sacramento fans in purple, a random appearance of green and yellow dotted the arena.
Last season, I caught up with a group of D.C. based Seattle fans who had shown up at a Wizards game to cheer for Sacramento, a team they had hoped would eventually move to Seattle to replace the Sonics franchise they lost in 2008. Those fans were back for last night’s Kings-Wizards matchup, along with a few more Sonics supporters fueled by the increasing rumors of a Kings move to Seattle.
“We’ve had a few people ask to take our picture,” said Jeff Lucas, who was a part of the foursome I talked to last year. “Random people behind us. People think it’s great.”
Lucas was with his wife, Ashley Diana, and friends Andrea Klee, Jared Stern and Shelley Bloom, who stood out in their head to toe Sonics gear and handmade sign. William Gee, a Seattle-area native now living in D.C., saw them from a few sections over and stood up to make sure they saw him.
“I was excited to see that I wasn’t the only one who circled this game on the calendar,” said Gee, who was sporting a well-worn Shawn Kemp jersey.
“I’ve gotta be honest, when I was watching all the Kings fans file into the game, I felt a little bashful about taking my fleece off and revealing the jersey,” Gee continued. “It’s like a new boyfriend showing up at your party and being like, ‘Yeah I’ve got your girl. And you feel dirty about it, but that’s how it goes.'”
The Wizards’ Martel Webster grew up and went to school in Seattle, said that the movement among fans is growing.
“It’s not just at the Wizards game,” he told me after the game. “Anyone from Seattle is attending a Sacramento game, wherever they’re at. They feel like they were robbed, and I can understand their side.
“That’s the business of this league,” he continued. “There have been a ton of franchises that have up and left and relocated. That’s just the way it is. It’s a terrible feeling when you lose a franchise, especially when there’s so much history, so much emotion in the arena, and all of a sudden it’s going to be vacated. I’m just happy for Seattle.”
As for sad Kings fans at Verizon, like the one in the pic below, Lucas said he feels their pain.
“I feel bad for Kings fans, I really do,” he told me. “I’ve even been to a few Kings games at the Arco Arena and had a good time, but some city is going to lose a team so the Sonics can exist again.”
I guess becoming a Wizards fan isn’t an option, huh?