The Sacramento Kings are like.......
After watching the documentary film, Murderball, I understand that the goal was not for me to feel sympathy for the disabled athletes who are the subject of the movie. After the machismo and testosterone infused film, what I felt about the participants was not joyous triumph or the strength of the human spirit or any accepted post 21st century male sentimentalism; I just thought that these people are more asshole-ish than able-bodied professional athletes, at least more asshole-ish than those who are not affiliated with the NFL. I wanted to root for them and see the human triumph over adversity theme, but I could not.
Even with my city mode on, I am generally nice to the elderly and people with mental or physical handicaps. All of us are going to get old one day, and most of us will not get old like George Clooney or Alec Baldwin. Most people with disabilities did not choose the cards they were dealt. However, I learned early on that people with disabilities can often engage in more asshole and douchebaggery behaviors than their able-bodied counterparts. Russ and Shawn Farmer were cousins that I knew in middle and high school. I lived next to their grandfather, who would drink Pabst or Old Milwaukee's Best while cleaning/gutting fishes on his front lawn and cursing. Russ was a hyperactive idiot, always loud and obnoxious. Imagine someone with Westbrook's energy, Carlos Boozer's yelling and old Kobe's assholeness without the accomplishments, and you have Russ. As intolerable as Russ was, Shawn was worse. Russ might have been missing a few synapses between the ears, but Shawn was born without a left forearm. There was no radius or ulna there, just a nobby stump. Shawn made up for his disability by being a cocky asshole with douchebag tendencies. He put people down for no reason, cursed at younger kids, and made fun of every one who was not in his peer group. He picked fights, but always had at least three people to back him up. The whole school hated him, but he made sure he was cool with the popular fifteen percent who ran the school social circle. As I watched parents say things like, "Oh, that is so sad, he only has one arm." I would think to myself, "Who gives a shit, that dude is an asshole."
The Sacramento Kings are like the participants in Murderball and Shawn Farmer. Being from a rural area, I always championed every small market team. I like Milwaukee, Portland, Charlotte, and even San Antonio, although they a difficult watch during the Bruce Bowen era. As a good Laker-hater, I was pulling for the Kings before they were beaten by the Lakers, referees, free throws, and injuries in the early millennium. I started to move toward indifference about the Kings around the time of the Maloof brothers' drama and relocation controversy. I did not think the Maloofs were blameless, and I certainly did not think that they are exceptional human beings. However, slimy Kevin Johnson's involvement makes my stomach more queasy than street food in a third world country.
KJ has been accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with multiple students at charter schools in the Sacramento area which are run by his group, St. HOPE Academy. His inappropriate sexual conduct with students goes back to his NBA days, when he was 29, and the girl involved was 15. There have been money offers and payouts regarding the alleged victims ranging from $1000 a month to $230,000 lump sum. Irregardless of who or what you believe, if you are an NBA Player, why would you get involved with a 15 or 16 year old, are there not enough women between the ages of 19 to 40, who would love to be with you 300 days a year? And athletes have been involved in schools and education for years. I have not heard any allegations from students at their academies accusing Andre Agassi or Jalen Rose of inappropriate sexual conduct. If one looks beneath the surface, there is something uncomfortably self serving about Kevin Johnson's persona and political ambitions. I was equally uncomfortable when KJ became the unofficial representative of the players during the Donald Sterling debacle. I cannot support Sacramento or the Kings, knowing that Kevin Johnson had a lot to do with them remaining in Sacramento.
On professional teams, the face of your franchise is your best player. For the Sacramento Kings, the face of their franchise is DeMarcus Cousins, from Mobile, Alabama. Many players from the South have a grain of humility about them, but maybe it is a completely new generation because Cousins missed the memo. He has done some good things for charity and appeared likable in a few interviews, but it is difficult to appreciate his talents while watching him on the court. Forget the handshake incident at the end of last year's Clippers-Kings game, what's more telling was his brushing off of JJ Redick after a hard foul in the next game between the two teams. JJ was the one who was fouled and reached out to him, and Cousins gave him a GTFOH. I still do not know how he was not ejected out of the first Kings-Clippers game of last year when he threw a 30 to 45 seconds hissy fit at the end of the Kings' bench. There was also the flagrant 2 foul against Vince Carter, crazy yelling at teammates on the court, and the punching of Patrick Beverly.
Abdul-Rauf was one of the best shooting point guards in the history of the NBA. He had a career 90.5 percent free throw percentage, and at his peak, shot around 38 to 39 percent from three point range. Depending on who you asked, he was blacklisted from the NBA for refusing to stand during the national anthem. His NBA career came to die in Sacramento, and he finished out his pro career in Greece, Saudi Arabia, and Japan for the Kyoto Hannaryz. I'm not sure what a Hannaryz is, but at least he finished his pro basketball career in a beautiful city. During his time on road trips with the Nuggets, Abdul-Rauf toured every inner city and spoke to men who had issues with fatherhood, incarceration and drugs. This was pre-internet era, and pre-NBA cares commercials by great men like Dwyane Wade, which proves it is never good to be truly sincere or ahead of your time.
Abdur-Raheem was an All-Star in 2002, and a gold medalist on the 2000 Olympic Team. The tweener scoring forward made close to 100 million in his career, while appearing in the playoffs only once, in 2005-2006 with the Kings. If you view sports as a business, and earning monetary rewards efficiently as the number one goal in life, Abdur-Raheem was a spectacular success. He was very good at what he did, and earned nearly 100 million over 11 years, by only working 5 or 6 months out of the year.
Abdul-Wahad, a defensive specialist who could not shoot, was the first player born and raised in France to compete in the NBA. The non-shooting guard had a great 2/3 of a year playing for Doc Rivers in Orlando, way back in 1999-2000. He was traded to the Denver Nuggets, who signed him to a 7 year, $43.3 million contract. The Frenchman retired three years into his contract. Abdul-Wahad, an art connoisseur who hates the politics of attaining a big time coaching position, is currently coaching a high school basketball team in San Jose.
I will teach my children to have the soul of Tariq Abdul-Wahad, the sincerity of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, and the earning power of Shareef Abdur-Raheem.
Kings Watchability Essay
Their offense sounds like the Spurs-lite, move the ball and get good shots. It is only a few games into the season, but it is hard to see this ever coming to fruition with guys like Rudy Gay, Darren Collison, and Ramon Sessions who are not known to be great passers. Cousins is a talented passer, but he is still learning how to balance his immensely talented offensive arsenal. However, Gay is a compelling player to watch.
Rudy was the analytics community whipping boy during his Memphis and Toronto days. There were years when he was in the 31 and 32 percent range from three point land and still kept shooting, and he couldn't finish around the hoop in his Toronto era. Despite of all this, I always thought of Rudy Gay as a guy I would want on my team -- as a very good third option. He can bail out stagnant second units with his ability to get his own shot. He should be at least an average defender when engaged with his length and athleticism. Gay has found a way to be efficient with the Kings, shooting above the league average from mid-range. It is only one game, but he just had 40 points on 19 shots against the Trail Blazers on Halloween. Perhaps, it was the eye surgery. I'm not saying Gay is worth 19 million dollars, he may not even be worth 10 million, and it is stretching a bit to have him as a second option, but he is probably a better player than most give him credit for.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
While making a transaction at a national bank in Southwest Las Vegas, I saw a man with dark curly hair, who look slightly too old to be wearing black designer jeans and a white shirt, sleeves rolled up, of course. He was at the "business customers" teller. "Damn, that's George Maloof Jr.," I thought to myself. No, it was not an excitement like when I met David Frank at an soul concert in the Temple Bar or a cool situation like discussing 70s reggae record with Common at Dustygroove. I was thinking more in the lines of "This dude is a part of a family that used to be worth a billion dollars, you should have never built Palms Place, George." Maloof was with a blonde in a summer dress that was not attractive, not even in a perverse MILF way. She looked like a Real Housewives of Orange County recurring character who had too much Botox. While you see billionaires at NBA games in t-shirts or polos, I doubt that you would see them or damn near billionaires (anytime you are over 300 million or 500 million, that is close enough for me) banking with us commoners. In hindsight, I don't dislike the Maloofs because they almost made professional basketball disappear in Sacramento. I dislike them because they gave Kevin Johnson more publicity and positive press that he deserved.
Paul Tee's Prognosis
Neutral. In the immediate present, the Kings are like the 40th or 50th ranked tennis player who can give the top 5 players a run for their money in smaller tournaments, but cannot beat them in a best of five sets grand slam, and cannot string together more than three consecutive wins. In a one game regular season setting, the Kings with obvious offensive talent in Cousins and Gay can beat anyone. In the long run of 82 games, they won't be anywhere close to the playoffs because of lack of defense and role players who are either unproven (Ben McLemore), checked out (Jason Thompson), or talented but on the wrong team (Derrick Williams). The Kings are stuck in that we're not awful enough to get a top 5 lottery pick but not anywhere close to being a consistent playoff contender. Unless you are a DeMarcus Cousins fan, there's not really a lot to like. This was the team that should have moved to Seattle.