The Sacramento Kings haven't given fans much of a reason to cheer since their "Greatest Show on Court" days of C-Webb, Vlade, Peja and Bibby. They haven't made the playoffs since 2006, and up until last May the incompetent Maloof brothers had been doing everything in their power to literally run the team out of town. So no one would have faulted the home town fans for throwing in the towel and checking out for a few seasons while the team floundered below the mediocrity level.
That's what makes Barbra Rust's story that much more impressive, and complex.com's idiocy that much more alarming.
Barbra Rust, known to local fans as "Sign Lady," has not missed a Kings home game since her family moved to Sacramento in 1985. Kings owner Vivek Ranadive says she "truly represents the spirit of the Sacramento Kings in so many ways."
In 2013 she was inducted into ESPN's Fan Hall of Fame, after receiving more than 85,000 votes on the Hall's website. Ask any die hard Kings fan and they'll tell you that Barbra is the heart of the team's fan base. Forward Jason Thompson goes one step forward by referring to her as "The heart and soul of the Kings."
In early October, less than a month before the season was set to begin, Rust was diagnosed with breast cancer. Kings fans and players immediately began flooding social media networks using #LoveForSignLady hashtags. Among those who reached out were former players Bobby Jackson, Tyreke Evans and Thomas Robinson.
Shortly after her diagnosis the Kings honored their loyal fan during their Breast Cancer Awareness night, before a preseason game against the Golden State Warriors. "Pink in the Paint" raised money for Albie Aware, a foundation created in the memory of Albie Caron, a local resident who lost her battle to breast cancer in 2002. The team sold pink merchandise with ribbons and all of the proceeds went to the charity. Fans were also encouraged to come and write their name, along with words of encouragement, to Barbra, who needed the cheers of her comrades more than ever.
Here's an excerpt from the team's press release:
"Along with recognizing Albie Aware, the Kings will honor one of its most beloved fans, Barbara Rust, who recently announced that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Rust is known fondly as "Sign Lady" for the steady stream of inspirational signs she has flashed at the team from her seats in the arena for years. The team also is raising money for the foundation by auctioning off two signs made by Rust especially for this event."Barbra Rust has since undergone at least one successful surgery, and has made her way back to section 118 at Sleep Train Arena.
Basically, anyone with access to Google could have found out who the Sign Lady was in the same amount of time it takes to sneeze.
Which gives you a pretty good idea to how much effort Rafael Canton, of the click-baiting site Complex.com, used when he put together his "11 Worst NBA Custom Jersey Fails" slideshow for the site.
Coming in at #4 on his list was the beloved Sign Lady, rocking her famed Die Hard Fan Since '85 jersey, with the caption "Sucks to be a loser" written below it.
"Sucks to be a loser" sounds like an insult Frankie "The Enforcer" would dish out on Boy Meets World.
Granted, no one should be turning to Complex for their groundbreaking sports coverage, but the fact that this woman, who has become an inspiration to so many, was looped in with the likes of a Kardashian Mavs jersey, and mocked to boot, is disgusting.