There are many cities away from Sacramento where Kings fans can be found.
In , , and more, people show their love for the NBA team in California’s capital city.
For one longtime fan, that loves comes from outside the country – across the Atlantic Ocean, to be exact.
Danny Williamson has been a Kings fan since the early 1990s. The resident of Worthing – a city of more than 100,000 people on England’s southern coastline about 60 miles from London – became interested in the NBA from a TV show that aired highlights on Saturdays.
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The logo is part the reason he was drawn to the Kings.
Loyal to the royal
From highlights Williamson watched on television, he decided to choose a team. He didn’t want to follow the masses and select a team that was popular, so the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers were out.
The purple in the Kings’ logo helped him choose.
Because NBA games weren’t shown live in England, he had to buy the games on tape – and they weren’t cheap. Williamson said each game cost 9.9 pounds, which he estimated at about $16 then. Not including playoff games, that was more than $1,300 to watch one Kings season.
The cost has dropped significantly since, thanks to NBA League Pass. He said the service runs about 250 pounds (about $328), and it gives him access to all games this season and classic contests.
“I get everything. I pay for the privilege,” he said.
He also likes to hear other team’s commentators but feels they don’t stack up to the Kings’ crew.
“When I can’t listen to Grant (Napear) and Doug (Christie) and you hear the other teams, you realize we’re grateful for what we have,” Williamson said.
He saw the team in person for the first time in 2008 while on a family vacation that included a visit to Disney World. He attended 11 NBA games in the two weeks he was in the states, including his first Kings game.
“I got to see Ron Artest and Kevin Martin in the flesh, but Brian Cook got hot for the Magic and hit 4 of 5 3-pointers to kill the game off,” Williamson said of .
He was impressed with Artest in person.
“You could see how strong he was,” Williamson said. “On TV, that doesn’t come across. He was just a strong dude.”
His next game came four years later in Toronto. He received credentials from Napear, the longtime Kings announcer, and was invited into the locker room by coach Keith Smart. The Kings 107-100.
Williamson attended five more games in 2016, including the Kings’ debut at Golden 1 Center. Add games this season – including Detroit, where he saw , and his second visit to Toronto on the six-game trip the Kings recently completed – and that’s nine times he’s seen the team in person.
Fitted like a King
Williamson has tons of clothing representing the Kings. He purchased his first jersey in 1997 after attending a game between other teams.
“After the game, I went to the team store and they only had one Kings jersey,” Williamson said. “It was in my size and it was ‘Big Nasty’ (Corliss Williamson), who was my favorite player at the time; plus, we shared the same surname.”
A sampling of Danny Williamson’s numerous Kings jerseys and shirts are seen hanging up in a yard. Danny Williamson Courtesy
He now has 60 jerseys, including multiple versions for Mike Bibby, DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Jason Williams.
His daughter has a Ticha Penicheiro Monarchs jersey, and his son has about 10, including one of his favorite player, reserve guard Ben McLemore.
“My son is praying for an upturn in his playing time (and consistency),” he said.
City representation ‘worth every minute’
Williamson’s hopes of returning to the U.S. to see the Kings play again were nearly derailed.
In a 2016 interview with NBC Sports California’s Kayte Christensen-Hunter, Williamson discussed health issues and wondered if doctors would allow him to return.
Since that time, his health has improved tremendously. Along with two back surgeries, he recently had a hip procedure to clear a deep muscle infection and learned he had diabetes.
Since September, he’s lost 70 pounds and said his diabetes is gone.
Kings fan Danny Williamson has this tattoo on his left calf. It features former point guard Jason Williams, the Kings’ current logo with a lion atop a basketball, the Sacramento city limit sign and the bear on the California Republic flag. Noel Harris nharris
Being healthy enough to travel again has given Williamson a chance to show his love for the Kings and Sacramento. One way he’s done that is with a tattoo.
The artwork, which is on his left calf, features former point guard Jason Williams, the Kings’ current logo with a lion atop a basketball, the Sacramento city limit sign and the bear on the California Republic flag. It took 20 hours over three days.
“Worth every minute,” he said.
It cost $800, with the third day being free because it was featured on NBA TV, which helped bring his artist more business.
So why a tattoo?
“I made a promise to myself that if the Kings stayed in Sacramento, I’d get a tattoo, and here we are,” he said, adding he was stoked when the Kings were purchased by Vivek Ranadive’s group, ensuring they weren’t changing cities.
Williamson plans to add to the tattoo. Some features include the team’s old logo and the 916 area code.
“It’s more about the city,” he said. “The players will be gone, but we’ll always be Kings fans.”
In all, he estimates that between trips, jerseys and games, he’s spent some $30,000 on his Kings fandom.
Pleased with his choice
Watching what the Kings are doing this season is “a whole world away” from what he’s seen in recent years. Much of it stems from the Cousins trade.
He loved Cousins, as a person and player, but feels like it was never going to work with him as the team’s focal point.
“It was like breaking up with a girlfriend,” he said. “You don’t want her to leave, but you know she has to leave.”
That paved the way for what he sees on the court now.
“Everyone seems so much happier,” Williamson said. “They’re so much more fun to watch.”
He hopes the fans can be more positive toward some players.
“I think people have been a little too harsh on Willie (Cauley-Stein),” Williamson said. “The hate he gets online … people were killing him, but I think he’s been all right. He’s got a different mindset and he’s playing hard.”
Williamson watches every game live now, mostly because of social media and all the friends he’s made.
He says being a fan of an East Coast team would have made more sense, considering West Coast games tip off at 3 a.m. in Worthing, but he’s happy with picking Sacramento.
“I’m pleased I chose the Kings,” Williamson said. “Definitely the best team to choose because you don’t get that family with other teams like we’ve got.”