June 23, 2006

Confessions of a Longtime Kings Fan

(Via Sactown Royalty...)

Growing up in what some called "Extreme Northern California", being a Sacramento Kings and Oakland A's fan came naturally. My first Walkman piped in Tim Roye on KFBK 1530 on most nights through the winter and spring months, as I heard the highlights and lowlights of a team, who frankly, wasn't very good. The Kings were perennial basement dwellers, featuring players like Wayman Tisdale, Vinny Del Negro, Lionel Simmons, Danny Ainge and Duane Causwell, and scarcely threatening to win more than 29 games in a full season.

Yet, for some reason, I started every tipoff to every game expecting them to win. Although my father and I both knew the best thing to do was to turn off the Kings game after the end of the third quarter, just to avoid listening to the guaranteed heartbreak that was to come, through legendary fourth quarter collapses, he was the only one strong enough to leave, while I would stay glued to the radio speakers for every last shot until the final horn would sound.

Though the players would change, the Kings' momentum didn't, for any number of reasons. I remember waiting excitedly when the Kings had the #1 overall pick, only to see them pick up "Never Nervous" Pervis Ellison, over other more heralded prospects. I remember when the team set the NBA record for consecutive road losses, with 37, and I remember when I learned that Bobby Hurley, once seen as the future of the franchise, had forever damaged his promising career in a near-fatal car accident. For the Kings, to lose was their role, and when they unexpectedly won, it only made it that much more exciting.

After years of listening in, I finally attended a game, on my birthday as a teenager, where we sat in the nosebleed section of Arco, and saw the home team take down the much-favored Phoenix Suns and Charles Barkley in a close game. The crowd was loud, and we all went nuts, first when Charles got a technical, as we had hoped, and then when it was clear we were going to take home the W. The playoff atmosphere was there, even if the playoffs weren't. On a separate occasion, the Kings made NBA history through two highly improbable blowouts in back to back games. I remember running excitedly to the front of the house, Walkman in hand, to tell my parents that for the second time in three nights, the Kings (yes, our last place Kings) were up by forty. It was incredible. But for some reason, it seemed I was the only one who cared. On other nights, while allegedly doing homework, I would scrawl down the point differentials in the margins of my paper or count them up and down through the game's peaks and valleys (-3, -1, +1, -1, +1, +3, +1, etc.). I would know before the announcers said it if the Kings had reached the highest lead of the game and bark at the unresponsive radio if they weren't keeping their listeners posted.

It wasn't until I got to college that the Kings made their way to the playoffs, on the back of team leader Mitch Richmond, and through this, the team launched a new era in Sacramento Kings history, one that, as you know, now sees them challenging for the playoffs year in and year out, even as the roster shifts - from Richmond and Williamson to Webber and Divac, to Stojakovic and Bibby, and today. I rooted just as hard for our Kings in the playoffs as I did as a kid when the postseason was for other teams, and watched as those wearing the purple and gold would come out of the woodwork, claiming allegiance. We all know what has happened every year, as the Kings haven't made it to the promised land, falling short, since 1951. But as I always expected them to win during their down times, I start every year expecting this will be the one.

Though the dust hasn't yet settled on Miami's title over the Mavericks, we should start preparing today, as Kings fans, for how we can help push this squad forward to a title, one that no other team deserves more. The Kings are your team, and Sactown Royalty is your home. Welcome home. Thanks for inviting me.

Listening to ''City Too City (S.H.O.K.K. Mix)'', by Sound Of Overdose (Play Count: 9)

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