KFBK News Director
It's hard to miss as it's barreling down a freeway; laboring through a long, lonely stretch of an interstate or swerving in a desert dust storm. A huge purple and pink RV with "Playing to Win" painted on its shiny side. Some people run across the country to raise awareness of a particular cause; or ride bikes or motorcycles. The guy known only as Carmichael Dave is RVing his way across America for one reason: to save the Sacramento Kings NBA basketball team.
Sacramento is in the fight of its life right now trying to hold on to its only professional sports team of nearly 28 years. The owners of the Kings, the Maloofs, agreed to sell the team for $525 million in January to a big-moneyed investment group in Seattle headed by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and bankrolled by billionaire Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Sacramento, which loves its Kings, immediately fought back.
The Maloofs have tortured Sacramento Kings fans for two years now, first trying to move the team to Anaheim then Virginia Beach and now to the rainy city in the Pacific Northwest. It's a complicated battle, but a bearded guy who feels most comfortable in a baseball cap, sports jersey, shorts and well-worn flip flops who sneaks a smoke on the side has emerged as the leader of the Kings fan base fiercely fighting to save their team.
He's left his wife and two young children behind - a hardship for the homebody family man -- to do a month-long road trip. Why?
"There are countless people who work your 'Joe" jobs; your computer programmer, your teachers, your doctors, your lawyers. The ones who don't have a mic in front of them. They're working so hard," said Carmichael Dave, who says he has the time for it now since leaving his job as a sports talk host on the Sacramento sports station KHTK.
The "Playing to Win" RV tour has hit 18 cities. Dave's met with the mayor in Oklahoma City; did the radio circuit in Dallas; blasted through Bourbon Street in New Orleans and hit New York City for an NBA meeting on the Kings-Seattle situation on April 3, where he presented a huge banner of all the Kings fans across America who signed the rolling RV.
"It's why we're fighting for this thing. It's for the kids so they could have the same team we grew up with," Dave said.
Dave's compadres are his friend Sean Thomas and Elliot Sisson, who is chronicling the "Playing to Win" tour on video. The goal is to stop in as many NBA cities and markets as possible before this Thursday's (April 18) NBA Board of Governors meeting in New York City where the league owners may make the fateful decision of who gets the Kings -- Seattle or Sacramento.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA All Star with the Phoenix Suns, therefore with a passionate reason for keeping the team in town, is leading the charge at home, assembling an impressive investment group of highly successful millionaire entrepreneurs from around the state: Vivek Ranadive, CEO of Tibco software and co-owner of the Golden State Warriors; Mark Mastrov, founder of 24 Hour Fitness; Chris Kelly, former Facebook executive; and the Jacobs family of Qualcomm. They represent all regions of the vast Golden State.
Carmichael Dave -- Carmichael is a suburb of Sacramento -- has been annointed to be the voice for the fans, those so-called regular Joes. He got his name by calling into sports radio shows as "Dave from Carmichael." He did it so often it eventually was shortened to Carmichael Dave. And it stuck.
"I want this entire city, myself included, to be able to look in the mirror, and win or lose, say we did absolutely everything we could" to save the Kings.
The "Playing to Win" RV, its tires worn down some with more than 6,000 new miles on it, will pull up to the Kings arena on Wednesday night (April 17) in a triumphant return for the team's last home game this season against the Los Angeles Clippers. For Carmichael Dave and a legion of Kings fans, they hope it won't be the last.