Kings fans let emotions out, maybe one last time

445262.jpg

Kings fans let emotions out, maybe one last time

April 13, 2011KINGS VIDEONBAPAGE NBASCOREBOARD

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."

Giants lineup: Ruggiano moves up against lefty Lester

Giants lineup: Ruggiano moves up against lefty Lester

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for Game 2 of the four-game series in Chicago:

Giants (20-26)
1. Joe Panik (L) 2B
2. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Eduardo Nunez (R) LF
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P (4-3, 4.50 ERA)

Cubs (22-21)
1. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
2. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Ian Happ (S) CF
6. Jason Heyward (L) RF
7. Willson Contreras (R) C
8. Addison Russell (R) SS
9. Jon Lester (L) P (2-2, 3.57 ERA)

Seventeen narratives to tide you over until Game 1 of the NBA Finals

Seventeen narratives to tide you over until Game 1 of the NBA Finals

It’s time once again to play, “Narrate That Narrative,” with your increasingly weary hosts, the Golden State Warriors.
 
And we say increasingly weary because, in playing 12 games (slightly less than 29 hours of elapsed time) in 46 days (slightly more than 1,100 hours of real time), the Warriors have spent far more time engaging, rejecting, advancing and goofing with narratives than they have with actual ball-related duties.
 
You know, the idiotic side stories with a two-day shelf life until someone serves up a new narrative, because after all, sports are really just delivery systems for disposable tales of no enduring value and very little transitory value. I’ve known cheeses left too near a heater than maintained their integrity longer.
 
But with another nine days (eight now, in case your narrative happens to be mindless timekeeping) before Game One of the NBA Finals, all we have is narratives. And yes, for that we can very definitely blame the Warriors, for without their refusal to mix in a devastating loss that really isn’t, we’ve had atomic clocks of time on our hands.
 
So muscle up, kids. This is your future until tipoff.
 
LEGACIES: This is without question the stupidest of them all, because trying to figure out an active athlete’s legacy is one of the most pointless things you can do with yourself. The Warriors will either be a budding dynasty or a one-hit-wonder-in-the-making. They will not be the best team of all time (the 1960s Celtics have that locked away), nor will they be the new Buffalo Bills (who unlike the Warriors tried many times and never won). They will be a team still fashioning their legacies, which as it turns out won’t actually be written accurately for decades.
 
In other words, remember O.J. Simpson’s legacy when he stopped playing football, and think of it now.
 
STEVE KERR: His spinal cord has a worse reputation than Stephen Curry’s ankles, and at this point it seems awfully likely that he will be an interested spectator with an all-access credential for the Finals. Thus, he remains the second best coach in NBA history in winning percentage (.848 if you include playoffs), behind only Not Steve Kerr (92.4).
 
KEVIN DURANT’S DECISION: It was a good one. He’s happy. He’s winning games. He’s wired into the Bay Area business community. Russell Westbrook is a year ago and Oklahoma City is a million miles away. Nothing new here, as there hasn’t been since the last time they played nine weeks ago. This story was old in August, and has been dead since January. Stop.
 
LEBRON JAMES: Is he Michael Jordan? Is he better than Michael Jordan? Does he like to troll people? Is he smug? Is he justifiably proud? All fascinating subjects if you just like making stuff up in your head based on your very limited ability to see inside the souls of others. But hey, you paid your fees just like everyone else. Psychoanalyze away.
 
ZAZA PACHULIA AND BRUCE BOCHY: He has become bigger than Andrew Bogut in Warrior lore because of his ill-placed foot in Game One of the Western Conference Final, and because his head was deemed far too large in Monday’s postgame celebration to accommodate a hat. Now you see how these two are linked?
 
JAVALE MCGEE: More fun than Zaza Pachulia, though dealing with Tristan Thompson will probably mean that his fun will be significantly truncated.
 
ANDRE IGUODALA’S KNEE: That’s not a narrative, that’s an injury report.
 
ANDRE IGUODALA’S DEFENSIVE ASSIGNMENT: See above. If the knee is sound, it will be LeBron James. If not, Draymond Green, David West and whatever else will work.
 
DRAYMOND GREEN’S TEMPER: 21 technical fouls, a flailing foot and a hideously timed suspension a year ago, 16 this year, no suspensions. Plus, only two technicals this postseason. His history remains his history, and he has been both targeted and given some slack depending on the official (he damned near chased Scott Foster down the floor one night this year and Foster patiently eased him off the ledge). He has been a voluble and expressive model citizen as these things go.
 
KLAY THOMPSON: Poor shooting in the San Antonio series has condemned him despite his offensive and defensive ratings both being up from a year ago. It’s a talker if shooting is your deal, but he won’t play any fewer minutes in this series than any of the other 11. His “struggles” are a mild amusement for those who still think trying to force drama on these guys is a useful exercise.
 
STEPHEN CURRY: I give up. Is there anything new to say about him?
 
JOE LACOB GIVING AN INTERVIEW TO THE FINANCIAL TIMES: Quick, everyone head for the shelters.

SCOTT FOSTER: Last year's officiating bete noire, now not even worth a mention. If you need something, the Warriors are 20-0 with Ron Garretson and 17-4 with Ed Malloy in the last three years. Just keep it to yourselves.

PLAYOFF HISTORY: Right now, the Warriors could become the first team to win all 16 postseason games, but even if they don’t, they can still go 16-3, tie the record currently held by the 2005 San Antonios and still have a parade. They did good – as long as they win. If they don’t win, the hell they will pay will be at full retail prices with the usual jewelers’ markup.
 
PLAYOFF BOREDOM: If Cleveland wins, this is the series you all demanded. If Boston wins, you get a surprise. But neither will make us happy because the playoffs weren’t sufficiently entertaining for us. That’s how we do our cultural life now – we reflexively turbo-bitch about something because it keeps us from getting diabetes, or some other excuse. As a result, we are the worst generation so far, and those who come behind us are very likely to be worse unless they can cure themselves soon.
 
LUCK: Yep, lucky again. No Yusuf Nurkic to allow Portland to play at its best. A limited Rudy Gobert to allow Utah to play at its best. No Tony Parker and only 28 minutes of Kawhi Leonard to allow San Antonio to be at its best. They were lucky two years ago as well, and the ring was just as big and the parade just as sunshiny. They weren’t as lucky a year ago (Stephen Curry’s wobbly legs, Draymond Green’s suspension, the auto-asphyxia of the last five minutes of Game Seven of the Finals).
 
In other words, it’s good to put yourself in a position to be lucky. Every champion ever, in every sport, on every continent, they’ve all been lucky. Luck is a compliment not wasted on second-round losers. Deal with it.
 
THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS: There has never been a champion that was universally beloved, with the possible exceptions of Leicester City when it won the Premier League last year, and maybe Secretariat. Every other one ever had critics based on style of play, level of success, arrogance, dismissiveness, bullying, plain geography or just, because . . . well, see “turbo-bitching.” It won’t be that hard. It was two paragraphs ago. Suck it up, scroll your screen and move your eyes.

The point is, one word of criticism from Charles Barkley is somehow louder than reams of glowing reviews. Warrior fans are like all the others in that they demand universal worship of their favorite team, and they hear “just a bunch of jump-shooters” no matter what Barkley actually says at any given moment.
 
See, they don’t have to like your team, and it affects nothing. Stop caring. 
 
There will be more, but these are the main ones that should tide you over until game time, whether it’s the series you want (Cleveland) or the series you never expected (Boston). We’re all very sorry if we couldn’t make it the New York Knicks, or LaVar Ball, just to name two narratives you won't have to deal with in the coming days.