Kings fans let emotions out, maybe one last time


Kings fans let emotions out, maybe one last time


SACRAMENTO (AP) The cowbells rang loud and proud again.For one, perhaps final time, a faithful following once considered among the best in American professional sports came together Wednesday night to cheer their beloved Sacramento Kings against the rival Los Angeles Lakers.For one night, doom and gloom were trumped by hope and happiness. For one night, the team's possible move to Anaheim was brushed aside to show what made Sacramento so great.They came with signs that read, "We Love You!" and "Take My Life. But Not My Kings." And the optimism reverberated in the echoes of those trademark cowbells and in the purple-painted faces who came to remember the glory days.
RATTO: Could Barkley, Webber buy Kings?
"It feels like old times," said Kings fan Patrick Sullivan, 26, sitting in upper deck. "The atmosphere would be so awesome if the reason behind it wasn't so sad."A standing-room only crowd packed things beyond the 17,317-seat capacity, and many arrived well before tipoff. They chanted "Here We Stay!" and "Save Our Kings!"Some were covered in body paint, others wore Kings jerseys going back a decade and a few even donned gold crowns atop their heads. A video montage for "Fan Appreciation Night" was shown before tipoff.And when the lights went dim and players were introduced, every one - fans, ushers, vendors, players, coaches, even police officers - stood and delivered a roar so loud that the building best known as Arco Arena shook to its core."On behalf of all my teammates, coaches and everyone in the organization, thank you," Kings forward Donte Greene told the crowd for the season finale. "You guys are the best fans in the world."Not everyone was kind.There were derogatory chants and angry posters toward Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof, who were not in attendance, let alone in their usual courtside seats for this one. Instead, fans with Lakers attire sat in the Maloof's seats.On the other side of the broadcast table, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez sat courtside. Outside, there was even a small patch of fans wearing black and reading a eulogy outside the arena, recounting all the great players and victories throughout the years.For most, though, it was one last chance to reflect.Brian Martin and his wife, Chris, have lived in Sacramento since 1984 and have gone to games since the Kings moved from Kansas City in 1985. Of all the highlights they've witnessed, their favorite came when former Kings fan-favorite Bobby Jackson flew into the crowd next to them diving for a loose ball."A woman leaned over and just smiled and then kissed Bobby on top of his head," said Chris, who was wearing Jackson's old Kings jersey. "That was just so adorable."Soon, memories might be all that's left.It seems the only thing stopping the Kings from moving is a block by NBA owners. The Maloofs are scheduled to make a pitch at the NBA Board of Governors meeting that begins Thursday in New York to move the franchise to Anaheim next season, and no franchise has ever been denied permission to relocate in the 27 years under Commissioner David Stern.Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson - a former NBA All-Star - and Anaheim officials also will attend the meeting to plead their cities' cases. The Maloofs have until Monday to officially file for permission to relocate, and a vote would likely come within weeks of that request.All that's needed for approval is a simple majority."I've been in a lot of games where there's not much time on the clock, and somehow we managed to come away with a win," said Johnson, who was at the Kings' finale before leaving after the first quarter to catch a flight to New York."So it's not over yet."Even the hated Lakers were sympathetic of the Kings.Lakers coach Phil Jackson - the man behind the Lakers' 2002 Western Conference finals victory over the Kings in Game 7 in Sacramento, the one who labeled the city "cow town" and soaked up every snicker and verbal jab at Kings fans for years - felt for those at the finale."I'll never forget those cowbells," said Jackson, who might've heard more ringing than anybody ever behind the visitors' bench. "I was OK with them, because I always knew fans would get tired. But when they started with the electric ones that had batteries, those really killed you."Not even those closest to the Kings know their future for certain.Gary Gerould has been Sacramento's radio play-by-play announcer since the inaugural season, and he said the team has given him no indication if he will be their announcer in Anaheim should they leave. With his family in Northern California - his wife, several children and grandchildren - Gerould probably wouldn't move to Anaheim, anyway.In 26 seasons calling Kings games, the 70-year-old has only missed five games. Wednesday night was his 2,058th Kings game - including preseason and playoffs - by his count.And perhaps his last."I'm no different than anyone in this organization," Gerould said. "None of us knows what might happen. How I will fill that void after doing this for so many years? I honestly don't know."

A's spring training Day 7: Rosales readies himself everywhere

A's spring training Day 7: Rosales readies himself everywhere

MESA, Ariz. — Adam Rosales has a real simple plan for which infield position he chooses to try to get work at.

“Wherever there’s less guys, I go over there,” he explained with a smile.

The sun came out and the A’s finally got on the field for their first full-squad workout Monday after being rained out Sunday. That meant Rosales, back for his second go-round as an Athletic, got his first chance to prepare for what figures to be a super-utility role, which is how he’s carved out a nine-year major league career.

All indications are that he’ll be the primary backup infielder, capable of spelling Jed Lowrie at second base, Marcus Semien at shortstop, Trevor Plouffe at third and even fill in at first base or left field in a pinch.

Though Rosales, who spent 2010-12 with Oakland and re-signed in January on a one-year $1.25 million deal, is well-versed in preparing himself all over the diamond, one position in particular is one that he says is most difficult to master in limited time.

“Shortstop,” he offered without hesitation. “There’s a lot more going on there, a lot less room for error. At shortstop, especially with a guy like Mike Trout running, you’ve got to be in good rhythm, good timing, get rid of the ball and make an accurate throw.”

Depending on how the A’s prioritize their 25-man roster, Rosales could very well be the only backup infielder. That means fellow infielders Joey Wendle and Chad Pinder would start in the minors if the A’s were to keep a fifth outfielder or third catcher. But because the A’s have some players who can fill in at multiple spots, there’s numerous ways they can choose to configure the roster when it comes time to pare it down.

Rosales, 33, said walking back into the A’s clubhouse for the first time made him “feel like I’m back home.” So much of the support staff — equipment guys, clubhouse guys — are the same as when he was here before. He was also happy to see former infield mate Mark Ellis walk through the door Sunday. He says Ellis, a teammate from 2010-11, instilled in him the importance of being a great defender. Ellis is working as a part-time spring instructor.

“He told me, the No. 1 reason he was in the big leagues was because of this,” Rosales said, holding up his glove. “I was such a young player then. I’d always work with him, how to turn double plays. Just to have him around is awesome.”

NOTEWORTHY: Sonny Gray and Kendall Graveman were among the pitchers who faced hitters for the first time this season. Bruce Maxwell caught Gray, his first time behind the plate with Gray other than the one inning Gray threw in an abbreviated start at Anaheim toward the end of last season. Maxwell said Gray’s changeup in particular looked good.

Manager Bob Melvin has been very impressed early on with Graveman’s command. Graveman said he’s trying to improve his changeup, in an effort to induce weak contact from righties and get them on the their front foot, which could then make him more effective on the inside corner.

CAMP BATTLE: There could be a good fight for the seventh and final spot in the bullpen, and it would seem being left-handed could give someone an edge. Sean Doolittle is the only lefty currently projected among the A’s top six relievers. Melvin had good things to say about Daniel Coulombe, a lefty who made 35 appearances in relief last year and also saw a bit of time with Oakland in 2015. Coulombe posted a 4.53 ERA last season but struck out 54 in 47 2/3 innings.

Del Rio’s anxiety level up with trio of Raiders going extreme in New Zealand


Del Rio’s anxiety level up with trio of Raiders going extreme in New Zealand

Raiders Pro Bowl left guard Kelechi Osemele, running back Taiwan Jones and safety Brynden Trawick are currently enjoying their offseason in New Zealand. 

But a few videos they posted going white-water rafting and bungee jumping left head coach Jack Del Rio a bit anxious. 

"Anxiety level went up a bit thinking of my BIG pro bowl LG on the rapids!!" Del Rio tweeted Monday. "Can't leave out Brynden or Taiwan either ... have fun and be safe"

Osemele has posted a handful of photos and videos from the trip, including one of a raft capsizing with the caption: "It got real out there!!! Category 4 Rapids #NewZealand." Another showed the 6-foot-5, 333-pounder doing a backflip off a bungee platform with the caption: "Just did a backflip off the highest swing in the WORLD!!!!!!! Crazy!!! #LivingLife"