Crowded In California: Should a Franchise Be Moved?


The Golden State of California, ranked third in area per state and first in population. Its also ranked first in most NBA teams in one state. Those four teams of course being the Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. The NBA has a total of thirty teams, all of which are spread out amongst twenty-one states, one district and one in Canada. The second most located in Texas with three, two teams located in Florida and New York and the rest with one a piece. With that being said, should California move one of its franchises to another state? Out of the 50 possible options, 29 states are without a single NBA franchise. If one were too move, which team would make the most sense?

Lets start off with the obvious, the Lakers aren’t going anywhere. Being California’s first NBA franchise after moving from their original location in Minneapolis, the Lakers have been one of the NBA’s most successful teams since its start almost 70 years ago. Only the Boston Celtics, which so happens to be the Lakers arch-rival, are the only franchise with more championships than the Lakers. Holding sixteen world championships, the Lakers have more titles than all three of the other teams in California combined. During the 80’s, Los Angeles’ stadium the Forum, was the place to be on game night. With “Showtime” in full effect, the biggest celebrities flocked to Los Angeles to watch the Lakers play. Hall of Fame players have filled Laker rosters for more years than I’ve been alive, the most recent inductee being Shaquille O’Neal. Legends like Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kobe Bryant left banners hanging in the Staples Center and have ensured that the Lakers wouldn’t be going anywhere for a long, long time.

Next is the Golden State Warriors. Now some people might not know this, but the Warriors were once champions before Stephen Curry laced up in the blue and yellow. Back in 1962 the Warriors moved from Philadelphia to San Fransisco, becoming California’s second NBA franchise. After a couple years they changed their name from the San Fransisco Warriors to the Golden State Warriors, with the idea to suggest that they represented the entire state of California. Winning two titles while still located in Philadelphia, they would win their first in their new home only four years after relocating. For a span of 40 years, the Warriors would not reach the finals, that was until the “Splash Brothers” Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson came along. Over the last few years, the Warriors have been one of the NBA’s top contenders. Last year Golden State won its fourth championship and followed it up with an NBA record 73-9 record this season. Having a young and exhilarating team, Golden State is lead by last year’s (and probably this year’s) MVP Steph Curry, who some argue is the best player in the league today. With the recent spike in fans and the sixth highest franchise value in the NBA, the Warriors don’t seem to being leaving anytime in the near future, so long as they can keep their talented players around.

The Los Angeles Clippers are third most recent franchise to make the move to California. Starting off as the Buffalo Braves back in 1970, they would eventually move to California, but only after making a pit stop in San Diego. Being bought by former owner Donald Sterling in 1981 for $12.5 million dollars, he would move the Clippers to Los Angeles in 1984 after poor attendance in San Diego, where they only average 4,500 fans per game in its final season. The move to LA was not great for the Clippers and hasn’t really been since moving. Having to compete with their crosstown rival Lakers every year, the Clippers wouldn’t make the playoffs until the 1991-92 season, their first as a franchise since the 1975-76 season. In 2011 the Clippers traded for All Star point guard Chris Paul and since have made the playoffs every year. Also having superstars like Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan, the Clippers have not finished any lower than 5th in the Western Conference in that span. But even with all the recent playoff appearances and having an edge over the struggling Lakers, the Clippers could still be an option to relocate. The Clippers have yet to make it to the Western Conference finals since moving to California, which also means they have yet to win a Championship. They also own some of the NBA’s longest playoff droughts. These include the 16 year span without making the playoffs (1975-1991), 45 seasons without making the Conference finals and 46 seasons without reaching the NBA finals. In a time controlled by the media and a “What have you done for me lately” attitude from fans, the Clippers could be in serious heat in the future if they don’t start playing harder and getting out of the second round of the playoffs.

Last and what most may think is the most obvious choice to move, are the Sacramento Kings. Having entered the league in 1948 as the Rochester Royals, the King’s franchise has moved four times since its inaugural season. After having a stint in Cincinnati and Kansas City, the franchise finally moved to its most recent home Sacramento in 1985. Winning two championships, the last being in 1951, the Kings haven’t had the same luck in the winning department since, continuing the leagues longest championship drought of 65 years. For the first 13 season in Sacramento, the Kings never finished with a record above .500. In the 1998-99 season things started to look up as they would finish with a record over .500, even though it was a shortened season. After drafting Jason Williams and adding Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic and Vlade Divac, they dawned the nickname “ The Greatest Show on Court” for their spectacular play together. Going on a seven year playoff run, the Kings would make it deep a few times. Making it to the Western Conference Finals once and the Semi-finals three times, they would be bounced out in the first round two years in a row in 2004 and 2005. Since 2006, Sacramento hasn’t finished higher than 10th in the Western Conference. Over the last few seasons, groups of investors have tried to move the Kings to Seattle, in hopes to revive the SuperSonics franchise that had been relocated and reformed into the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008. After ranking 19th in fan attendance per game this year and even though the vote was ruled in favor to keep the organization in Sacramento, one can only imagine if the Kings don’t do something soon, that they will eventually be the top NBA contender to move to another city. Players like Demarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Seth Curry and rookie Willie Cauley-Stein look to revitalize the franchise in the coming years and make a name for themselves in Sacramento.

About Emanuel Godina

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