Kings offer challenge after ESPN inexplicably ranks the franchise worst in major sports

AB PicESPN wasn’t exactly impartial in its coverage of the Kings relocation drama, using some of their outlets such as SportsNation, ESPN.com and Outside the Lines to promote a pro-Seattle agenda.

The offenses were usually slippery enough to keep from creating a stink in the media, but would consist of ‘interesting’ polling data, work like this piece all-but-dismissing the chance for Sacto to make their “last second shot,” or this report citing the “expected move to Seattle” despite significant evidence that the Kings were favored to stay in Sacramento.

My favorite was this ambush-style interview setting up Seattle media versus Sacramento Kings fan Kevin Fippin, who battled Chris Hansen mouthpieces in Seattle King 5’s Chris Daniels and fan group Sonicsgate, who was fresh off writing a letter to Kings fans telling them how to get out of the way because the train was-a-comin’.ESPN_Ad

While these examples are the work of a quick five-second Google search and there is probably more damning evidence if one was compelled to really dig in, it’s also sort of hard to pile on ESPN when Yahoo! Sports and NBA.com also came out early with strong assertions that there was no chance that the Kings would stay.

Still, if ESPN wanted to get back in Kings fans’ good graces, letting ESPN the Magazine rate the Kings the worst franchise in major pro sports was probably not the best first step.

While this rating could have been true if the hapless Maloof family still owned the team, the sheer firepower behind new ownership led by Vivek Ranadive should have moved the franchise many spots up that list.

ESPN released a press release explaining their rationale:

“Every year, ESPN The Magazine compiles the results of fan surveys and financial analysis to determine which teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL offer the greatest rewards for all the emotion, money and time that fans invest in them. … In all, 122 teams from the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball were ranked in order, based on a weighted average of scores in eight areas ranging from the quantitative to the emotionally subjective:

• Fan relations (25.2%)
• Affordability (17.4%)
• “Bang for the buck” (16.8%)
• Stadium experience (12.4%)
• Players (11.30%)
• Ownership (10.2%)
• Title track (3.6%)
• Coaching (3.1%)”

The Sac Bee’s Jason Jones reported that the rankings were “based off last season’s ownership, coaching, etc.”

That makes ESPN’s decision not to adjust those rankings for easily predictable improvements in most if not all areas a curious one, and one also has to wonder if this is the most recent example of the outlet thumbing its nose at Sacramento.  kevin fippin sonicsgate outside the lines

Fast forward to Saturday night, the Kings issued their own press release challenging ESPN.  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.

“Under Vivek’s leadership, there is a lot happening in Sacramento: a new ambition, new investments in talent and arena infrastructure, and a new commitment to our wonderful community,” said Kings President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Granger. “We have the best fans in sports and we will work tirelessly until we give them the best franchise in the world.”

“We love ESPN, but think they could have given us the benefit of foresight in their rankings,” continued Granger. “They know what we have going here. And, if they don’t, we’re going to show them when they visit us on November 15.”

Given the track record Sacramento has shown in its support of the team through the good times and the bad, it’s all but certain that ESPN will have to eat its words once again.

About Aaron Bruski

Aaron Bruski moved full-time to Sacramento in 2013 after spending much of the past decade traveling between both halves of the state for business and basketball. As the owner of site sponsor ABIS Employee Benefits and Insurance Services, Bruski has nearly 15 years experience in the health care field, but that's just the beginning. Having spent the last seven years as a basketball writer for NBC Sports, his work has appeared at ProBasketballTalk.com, Rotoworld.com, USA Today, and Yahoo! Sports. Bruski's work covering the Kings relocation saga received critical acclaim as he was the first journalist to report that the Kings were likely to stay in Sacramento when the rest of the basketball media had punched their ticket to Seattle.

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Posted by on Sep 22 2013. Filed under Kings/NBA, Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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