Sacramento Kings Rebrand: Shaqramento

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We’re going to be the first cashless arena…come in with your phone, you know where your seats are, you know where the bathrooms are, the best concessions…we’re going to have the best arena in the worldShaquille O’Neal

Almost a decade after a heated playoff rivalry that produced an iconic shot and a “Sacramento Queens” comment, Shaquille O’Neal was introduced Tuesday as part of the new Sacramento Kings ownership group. The Kings franchise have had a volatile past two years. They were rumored to be leaving for Anaheim at the end of last season. Those rumors turned into concrete numbers, an owner, and a stadium plan for a move to the Seattle. Then, some last ditch politicking from mayor Kevin Johnson, coupled with a sale to Vivek Ranadive, kept the team in Sacramento. For now. All which represents a turn of events from the beginning of the 2000s, when the team was a title contender, and the fans were known to be some of the best in the league (complete with a great/annoying signature cheer in the cowbell, depending on which side you stood for). And that is, to bring things full circle, the era that Shaq remembers, and the golden era that Shaq’s presence symbolizes.

O’Neal harkens back to those days when the Kings, lead by a lineup of Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, Peja Stojakovic, Chris Webber, and Vlade Divacs, were playing something of an uber-teamwork basketball. They were the “7 Seconds of Less” Suns without a marketing term. They were every NBA fan’s second favorite team to watch. And most importantly, they mattered to the Sacramento.

But championship windows don’t last forever. Divacs signed with the Lakers. Webber and Christie were traded. Rick Adelman, the architect of the offense, moved on. After selling out every home game with 1999 to 2007, fan attendance dropped to 13,500 that season. The franchise, the brand, haven’t dug themselves out of that hole with a series of questionable moves on the court. And off the court…well…


#Rebranding the Kings

We came to a conclusion that we could – what my late friend Steve Jobs likes to say – put a dent in the universe if Dr. O’Neal became my partner…He’s already had an impactRanadive

How do you rebrand a franchise over one summer? Let’s count the ways:

1. Get a new owner – Ranadive closed the sale of the Kings in late May

2. Build a new arena downtown with an “indoor/outdoor” concept, and become the world’s first cashless arena

3. Hire a new GM with an analytics background in Pete D’Alessandro

4. Draft a franchise player in Ben McLemore

5. Hire a symbol – Shaq

6. Televise your opening night game vs. the Nuggets in India

That’s a good start.

Especially for those who remember the glory years in the early 2000’s, it would have been a shame for the Kings to leave. We remember the style of that team, the passing, the 3’s, the fluidity. We remember the cowbells, and the posturing that the rivalry with the Lakers brought out. Ironically, it could be the biggest villain of the city that revives those memories.

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