Last week, ESPN released its yearly Ultimate Franchise rankings naming the Grizzlies the top sports franchise. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the poll named the Sacramento Kings the worst franchise in American sports.
To that the Kings said, "Challenge accepted."
Shortly after the full poll was released, the Kings made their own release to ESPN challenging the claim and welcoming them to reconsider when ESPN visits Sleep Train Arena in mid-November.
The Sacramento Kings today issued a challenge to ESPN The Magazine’s pronouncement on its current cover that the Kings are the worst franchise in sports. The team released advertisements saying, “Hey ESPN. Nice Airball. New Era. New Swagger. The Best Fans Await You. 11.15.13.” The messaging references the Nov. 15 nationally televised home game between the Kings and the Detroit Pistons on ESPN.
In fairness to ESPN the Magazine, a lot has happened to the Kings since the poll was conducted. After all, this is meant to be an evaluation of each franchise for the last year. And in the last year, no team was in more turmoil or uncertainty than the Kings with the Maloofs trying to sell the team to an owner in Seattle who sought to move the team further north to Seattle.
The ESPN the Magazine survey ranked the Kings in the bottom five for fan relations, ownership, stadium experience and players. Fan relations and ownership certainly should improve with Vivek Ranadive taking over as the team's owner. The arena has long been a problem for the Kings and will be solved with the city approving a new deal to replace the 24-year-old Sleep Train Arena.
The players will be another story about improving.
Much of the Kings' problems were certainly related to the poor ownership and frustration over the team's future. So the Kings should not be last for much longer. And the team ranked 89th in "Bang for the Buck" so games are at least decently affordable and worth the price of admission.
Peter Keating of ESPN the Magazine reaches much of the same conclusions. The Maloofs were the problem and caused much of the low ratings.
Those problems are corrected. The passionate Kings fan base should not have to worry about repeating as the nation's worst sports franchise. New ownership should not worry either. This was about the old guys in charge.
The Kings are under new management. And fans will be loving them Nov. 15 against the Pistons on ESPN.