(From the diaries.)
I just got back from ARCO at the season ticket holder party and I have to say this - it had a surprise twist.
There are two general events a year where season ticket holders get to come out to play. The first event was pre-season and we got to see the players run their drills. The coaches had mics on and explained the goings on. This second event is a more festive day with games, entertainment and up-close access to the players.
We enjoyed getting to roam around behind the scenes and see the operation from a different perspective. It's interesting how additionally show biz it becomes when you see the staging areas. STR community, I now know where they keep the kegs.
After blanketing the building, we found seats courtside and just people watched. Reef, Corliss, Cisco, Kevin, Justin, Ronnie, Kenny, Quincy, Mike, Brad - all walked right by our seats at one time or another. It was Justin who prompted my "I'm too cool to be a fan" boyfriend to stand and say hello and shake his hand.
I'm always taken aback by how big some of these guys really are. I've seen them when we go out to dinner and think "WOW!" Watching Corliss try to pose for a photo with a three year old was a pretty damn cute logistical operation. I have now nicknamed Vitaly "The Brahma Bull of the Borscht Belt." He's huge. Grant is also deceptively tall.
The G Man was also there sitting on the edge of the scorer's table and talking to folks, Koz did some radio, Jason Hamm was walking around holding his baby. Young men followed the dancers around like lost puppies. I think everyone in the organization was there. Wait, no, not everyone. Where was Muss? Wasn't he supposed to be the coach who was more accessible to fans? He was probably the one person in MSE who didn't come to mingle besides Ron Ron.
We passed on the games like playing golf with Corliss or Poker with Kenny and kicked back. At the end of the event everyone was invited to and hear from Geoff and Joe. We sat courtside. Dang, those front seats are comfie but anyone sitting on the court like that during a game has to be one brave cookie. I digress.
After the thanks a mils the first order of business was to talk about Ron Artest Gate. Geoff said he practiced and he will play tomorrow. The fans cheered. He said "Ron is presumed innocent until proven guilty which is an assumption we all deserve." More cheers. Then he said, "Let me bring out Ron." As the missing King emerged from the tunnel (only my imagination created dramatic smoke and backlights) I didn't expect the following response. Pope Geoff had just blessed Ron, and Ron received a rousing, wolf whistle, foot stopming, we just beat the buzzer type standing ovation. Arrested on Monday and cheered on Saturday. All I could do was watch.
Am I missing something? Did a few hundred of my fellow party guests know something I don't? No, that lady over there isn't clapping either. Was this a mini test for tomorrow? If so, they passed with flying colors. All indications are: Sacramento Kings fans support Ron playing ball. He apologized and thanked everyone for supporting him and the team. He mentioned his focus on his family and then he walked up the stands and through the crowd shaking hands. I swear he looked as if he couldn't be more appreciative and humbled.
After Ron finally exited, there were more questions for Geoff and Gavin. I'll summarize. A little girl asked, "Where is your brother(Joe)?" Gavin explained to her that older people are not as sturdy and Joe's back went out, prompting laughter. Someone wanted to know when we would be getting a legitimate big man. Geoff talked about the draft quite a bit, specifically the top two picks. He's always looking for options. New arena news? Stern is supposed to make a report and release it soon. Moving? "No way", says Gavin. The Kings will always be in Sacramento. One lady who has been a ticket holder since day one complimented the team and organization saying she loved everything about them "except, can you pass a law where no one can wear a Laker jersey in ARCO, please?!" Gavin will work on that one after he stops giggling. There was more Q&A in the half hour session ending this nice event.