Thursday, January 26, 2006

An open letter to the Sacramento Kings

Do y'all realize what just happened?

First off, you were able to revive what had the prospects of becoming a huge mess, with that whole "trade-on-hold" phase. There's nothing more impossible than trying to convince an important piece to your team, "Well, we really wanted to trade you, but, we don't mind keeping you if you don't mind staying. Come on, Predrag, we're still buds, right? Seriously, when's the last time I called you 'Predrag'? That should tell you how serious I really am." Being a long-time Laker fan, I have experience in most uncomfortable NBA team situations (i.e. superstars wanting to be traded, rape trials), and the trade-that-almost-didn't-happen is no different. The Lakers originally wanted to trade Finals-airball-specialist Gary Payton to Boston for center Chris Mihm and point guards Chucky Atkins and Marcus Banks, which would've given 'em a much-needed point guard rotation considering Derek Fisher had just bounced to Golden State. But Boston decided they didn't want to part with Banks at the last minute, and Laker GM Mitch "Does L.A. like me yet?" Kupchak stumbled all over himself and accepted swingman Jumaine Jones instead. Not that having Banks would've saved the Lakers from the disaster that was last season, but he could've helped a little. Now, Payton is (coattail-)ridin' high in Miami, Atkins is a free agent after complaining about playing time in Washington and subsequently getting released, Banks is stuck on the Celtics' bench, and Mihm is the only NBA player endorsed by Pony. So I think it kind of worked out maybe? I don't know. But anyways, by the end of Tuesday, it looked like the Kings not only lost their chance to pick up Ron Artest, but also pissed off Peja Stojakovic in the process.

But now, all is well, but not as well as it could be. While an obvious upgrade from the struggling Stojakovic, Ron-Ron is still on the record as saying that he'd prefer to play for an east coast team, and the whole trade delay should only further reinforce that fact. Artest, Bibby, Miller, and a healthy Shareef and Bonzi Wells should be enough to propel the Kings into the playoff hunt, and possibly make them a contender for the 2nd round, but if Artest ain't around for the long-haul, what's it really worth? So here's your task, Kings fans -- love Artest unconditionally. Buy his jerseys, bring signs, cheer for him even when he fucks up just so that he doesn't feel bad. Dude's a certified nutcase, he wanted out of Indiana because he thought all the fans were blaming him for last season and were holding him accountable for everything that would happen this year, and he didn't want to put up with that sort of pressure. He might be a little rusty when he first steps on the court in Kings jersey (hopefully not those nasty purple-and-gold WNBA joints), but he won't need 17,317 fans reminding him of that. Being nice now is the first step towards an extra-nice future.

However, fan support isn't all it takes. Take Shaq for example (once again, Laker fan over here). L.A. embraced him as soon as he signed on the dotted line in '96 -- jerseys, car flags, celebrities at courtside, ANOTHER movie. L.A. radio stations bumped his music, regardless of his lyrical inabilities (ask Kwaz about that if you're interested), and how no one outside of L.A. was interested in his albums -- case in point, "Connected" f/ W.C. & Nate Dogg was a regular on top 5 shows in the summer of '01, even though his album never got commercially-released. We sat patiently through every horribly-missed free throw, waited through every exaggerated injury, yet when management wouldn't pay him what he wanted, the fans didn't mean a thing.

That's where the Kings organization comes into play -- granted, Artest is no Shaq, but for the way this season has been going, he might as well be. Give him whatever he wants and then some. He's gone with 3 different jersey numbers in his career -- #15, #23, #91 -- and if he wants all 3 in Sacramento, give 'em to him. Let him wear a different one every quarter if he wants. And if Kevin Martin (the Kings' current #23) throws a fit about that, tell him there's a spot in line for him at the unemployment office if he really wants to push his luck. That killer $50,000-a-night suite at the Palms? Let Artest's family and friends stay there. His budding rap career? Throw E-40 and Too $hort on his album and have every Bay Area DJ put his shit in their rotation. How's this for a promotion? First 50 adult females in attendance get to give Ron Artest head in the locker room. Or maybe the last 50 in attendance, maybe age 18 and over, I'll let y'all work with the specifics. Basically, you do whatever it takes to not only make Ron Artest feel happy and at home, but make him feel like he's in paradise. And while I'm no betting man, I'm fairly confident that 50 blow-jobs should accomplish just that.