named "Evans" because my son Evan has his jersey.
What I do know is that a lot of people in Sacramento could be hurting in the
next few days. I also know that 2015 is only four years away.
Ailene Voisin: It's tough to say goodbye
Published Thursday, Apr. 14, 2011
That first night? Oct. 25, 1985. More than 25 years ago in an Arco I sweatbox
down the street. There was cheering and chanting and all those damn cowbells.
There was an owner – that goofy young developer – in sneakers and a tuxedo.
There was Commissioner David Stern, considerably thinner, his hair
significantly darker, welcoming Sacramento into his NBA orbit.
There was a pro game in town.
There were the Kings in town.
It was new, it was dynamic, it was ours.
Then there was Wednesday night, potentially another historical moment for the
community and those in search of sports and entertainment. Potentially,
unbelievably, the end. Unless the Maloofs change their minds about relocating
to Anaheim and/or the league board of governors imposes a prohibitive
relocation fee, the Kings will flee south, crowding a market shared by their
first opponent (the Clippers) and their last (the Lakers).
So how do you say goodbye? If this truly is goodbye?
You remember the Kings.
You remember last night.
The cheering, the chanting, the symphony of cowbells. The uniquely passionate
crowd that ranked second to none in the NBA for the better part of three
decades. Although Wednesday's game was in Arco II, a larger sweatbox that no
longer meets NBA standards, the building rocked like the old days, as it did
when the Kings were new and different, when the Kings were new and lousy, when
the Kings were not so new but resided among the most talented clubs in the
Nine winning seasons. Eleven seasons of season-ticket sellouts. Consecutive
sellout streaks of 471 and 354 games.
The fans were on their feet again in the end, and, well, even Our Friend Phil
urged them to take a bow.
"They have been great fans, really terrific fans," Lakers coach Phil Jackson
said before the overtime thriller. "I just hate to see fans who have supported
their team to lose their home team. They (had) a relationship with a team,
embraced them. I just wish they would continue to be NBA fans."
Here's the real kicker, that sand-in-face moment: The Kings have talented
pieces. For the first time since Ron Artest willed them into the playoffs
(2006), you can study the roster and project a playoff sometime in the near
future. Trade that first-round pick for a point guard. Add another shooter.
Shave about 15 pounds off DeMarcus Cousins. Re-sign veteran Samuel Dalembert.
Slide Tyreke Evans over to shooting guard or small forward.
This is part of what will be missed. The water cooler chatter. The conversation
about the home team. The emotional investment by sports fans and non-sports
fans alike. The shake-the-head discussion of Evans' refusal to relinquish the
ball on the break. The debate about Cousins' maturity. We're not talking about
Kobe here, right? Cousins is only 20.
Except that we are. Kobe and the Lakers. Artest and the Lakers. For that one
final time. Asked his favorite memory of the Kings-Lakers rivalry, Jackson
predictably mentioned the 2002 Western Conference finals and was partial to the
outcome of the seventh game.
"We had to face odds that were tough," Jackson said. "An overtime game that was
pressure-packed. And we were able to beat the Kings on their own court, which
is a difficult thing to do."
Saying goodbye? After another Kings-Lakers classic? That's a difficult thing to
do. Maybe the Maloofs don't feel the passion, but as an L.A.-based journalist,
I traveled to Sacramento for the beginning. I heard stories about cows in
nearby pastures. I heard about a temporary arena and a second arena on the
drawing board. I was introduced to a loud, loving, homespun crowd. The NBA
still doesn't have many places like this.
What a waste.>>
Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home
telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on