"How do you feel about the Sacramento Kings?"
When I was first asked this question a few weeks ago, my initial response was "luke warm". I am from the Bay Area, and, besides a youthful dalliance with the Detroit Pistons (spurred on by an Adrian Dantley signed basketball I received for Christmas, 1987), a lifelong Warriors fan. Now, you might think I would hate the Kings, seeing as they and the Warriors are geographic rivals and all, but you’d be mistaken. I don’t hate the Kings.
I hate the Lakers. I hate them intensely. And, as the proverb goes, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend". For the last 20 years, the Warriors have been mostly impotent, unable to present any kind of threat to the Purple and Gold Menace to south. The Kings, however, have often been a worthy foe. Come playoff time, I would often hitch my wagon to the Kings horses. I loved watching the teams of the late 90’s with Jason Williams at PG, and Corliss Williamson up front.
I was watching when the Kings realized they weren’t gonna get any further with "White Chocolate" and "Big Nasty", they traded them for Mike Bibby and Doug Christie (and his wife) and almost brought a championship to Sacramento. That 2002 series against the Lakers is the 2nd most memorable series of my life (behind the Warriors improbable first round sweep of the Mavericks a few years back, I believe!), and I spent it rooting passionately for the boys from Nor Cal. I remember how raucous Arco would get, and thinking that it must be an amazing place to see a game. I also remember thinking that the best team lost. (Sorry to bring up old stuff but. . . 27 Laker free throws in the 4th quarter? come on!)
The point is, when offered tickets to go to the Kings/Bucks game Friday night, I jumped at the chance. I even headed down to a Sac Press Reke ROY sign making party before the game. I sat with a group of the nicest Kings fans I could ever hope to meet. In the interest of full disclosure I copped to being a Warriors fan soon after joining them. They saw past my Golden State affinity, treated me as one of their own, and for that I am grateful. I went to work on my sign, and I came to a sad realization.
My name is Lindol, I’m 31 years old, the equivalent of a 25th grader, and I make signs at a 3rd grade level. Looking back on it now, I may be giving myself too much credit. At no higher than a 3rd grade level. Mr. and Mrs. Sign Lady were at the party, when they saw my sign, they openly mocked me. By which I mean they did nothing of the sort, and were exceedingly friendly and supportive. They were just being nice, as they would be to any developmentally disabled 31 year old man.
So I took my sad little sign (‘Reke Da Freak!), grabbed a 20 ounce Tecate (only 50 cents an ounce!) and headed to my seat, excited to see Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings, two of the leaders in the Rookie of the Year chase, go at it. My impressions from the game:
-NBA introductions are fantastic, by far the best of any sport. Being there in person you get to see all the players little ritualized dances and handshakes and what not. Very cool.
-Tyreke showed flashes of greatness, but struggled getting into a rhythm.
-Brandon Jennings did get into a rhythm and was pretty spectacular, 8 of 13 on 3 pointers.
-Where as beers are marked up 700%, a Round Table Pizza that costs 6 bucks in the restaurant, costs 7 at the game and is delivered to your seat. Best deal in the house.
-Lior Suchard is able to bend spoons, guess halftime scores, and turn 1 dollar bills into hundreds, but he isn’t able to say please, apparently. Where’d you learn your manners, guy?
-Beno Udrih is pretty darn good.
-Spencer Hawes is also pretty darn good.
-Sean May must not be, double overtime game and he didn’t sniff the court.
-Slamson, the Kings Mascot, is trying to bring back rollerblading, I don’t like his chances.
-The Kings dance team > The Warriors dance team.
-Mr. Sign Lady sits directly behind Mrs. Sign Lady. Like Goose behind Maverick. Awesome.
-The crowd was raucous, but the arena seemed only about two thirds full. It was a far cry from the cowbell glory days of yore.
-That was the first Israeli flag I’ve seen held up at an NBA game. Omri Casspi is a pretty cool story.
-It’s my fault that the Kings lost. . . . wait, what?
I mean, if you’re looking for someone to blame, you could blame the officials who blew an obvious traveling call on Brandon Jennings down the stretch that led to a John Salmons 3 pointer. You could blame Ersan Ilyasova (if that’s even his real name!) and his errant elbow that knocked Tyreke out of the game with lacerated gums, chipped tooth, concussion and potentially fractured jaw. Ouch. Or you could blame Ersan a second time for that ridiculous three pointer he hit to tie the game at the end of regulation. You could do all of these things, but you would be wrong.
If you want to know why the Kings blew a 9 point lead with 2 minutes remaining, it’s cause that was the point I left my seat and went out to my car to beat traffic. And as I was about to leave the Arena, I actually thought to myself "If you leave, you do know that the Bucks are gonna come back and send it to overtime, if not double overtime, and the Kings are probably going to lose". I said to the voice in my head, "you’re probably right, but I don’t know how to get out of here, I’m kinda tired, and lets be honest, I’m a Warriors fan, it’s a chance I’m willing to take". I was almost home when Ersan hit that 3 pointer, and I didn’t need Lior Suchard to tell me what would happen next. Oops, my bad.
You can send your angry emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, best one gets a sweet "Reke Da Freak" sign, only used once.