The Kings-Mavericks game, with an announced attendance of 14,011, had its usual scattered Sacramento crowd.
The Maloofs, who have not shown up in their usual courtside seats in recent weeks, have declined to comment on any talks about the future of the franchise. Their parking spots at the side entrance of the arena also were empty.
Only a handful of signs such as "Sactown Needs This Team," ''Here We Stay" and "Our Town, Our Team" could be seen. Another read: "Accepting money for Kings relief fund." No derogatory shouts or chants could be heard, either, as has happened in years past.
"It's horrible that the Kings could be leaving," said Kasim Ersoy, who has lived in Sacramento for two years. He became a Kings fan when he watched the Chris Webber-Vlade Divac combo on television growing up in Germany. "Basketball is my favorite sport in the U.S., so it will be very sad to not have an NBA team any longer in Sacramento."
Other Sacramento fans launched a fight to keep the team — again.
The grass-roots organization Here We Stay, which has worked to keep the Kings for two years, started an online petition drive urging the NBA to allow a Sacramento buyer to match any offer from Hansen and give Seattle an expansion team instead. The petition had drawn more than 4,000 signatures within 24 hours.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has said he would do all he could to try to find a buyer with a Sacramento connection to possibly purchase the team and keep it in California's capital city. It's not the first time Johnson, a former NBA All-Star, has faced a difficult challenge.
In 2011, the Kings appeared determined to move to Anaheim before Johnson convinced the NBA to give the city one last chance to help finance an arena. After the Sacramento City Council approved the arena deal last March, Johnson joined hands with Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof at center court before a game.
A month later, the Maloofs said the deal didn't make financial sense for them. Then the city and the team ceased negotiations, reigniting fears the franchise could relocate.
"Every year they're talking about we're going to a different city. One year it's Seattle. Another year it's Virginia Beach. Then Anaheim another year. Nothing really surprises me," Kings forward Jason Thompson said. "We can only control what we can control. All we can do is put the ball in the bucket and try to win. It's a tough situation for everybody."
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP
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