One of the inherent problems with sports is that in any other entity what may be the most irrational reaction is the most rational in athletics. How else to explain that this is the most excited I’ve been about any season since Chris Webber was on the roster? Despite the very real reality that this may be one of the worst seasons in a franchise that has had no shortage of them.
The shoot the hostage answer of course is the absence of Artest. But I never really minded Artest for all his mercurial ball hogging and as Section 214 so eloquently pointed out it’s not like John Salmons is any more aesthetically appealing a ball handler in the waning moments of a shot clock. Diminished expectations have something to do with it to be sure, there is nothing more frustrating than knowing your team is capable of competing for a playoff spot while simultaneously knowing that your team will, in fact, not be competing for that playoff spot. Something else is at play here. Something mildly more complicated, something embodied by the embodiment of all things Kings in the Ziller Era, Kevin Martin. Why do we care for Kevin? Oh sure we care about our franchise, and Sacramento more than any other town has shown an almost Saint like love for every roster filler. Few towns still reflect fondly on Tony Massenburg. But Martin engenders a special affection. One we don’t have even for those hallowed Kings of the Adelman era. See we grew up with Kevin. Lived through the no look between the Brent Barry legs passes and the unending benchings. Continue to live through the myriad slights and blights and back handed compliments. I could never find the proper verbiage for the athletic equivalent of a Stage Mom, though realistically in sports parents are often theatre folks on steroids, but whatever it is that’s how we are towards Speed Racer.
So what you ask? Well the truth is that’s now our relationship with this roster. These kids will develop, assuming they develop, under our watchful eye. They are ours now. Each one has been demeaned or diminished by the powers that be, whether it is Hawes for being…Hawes…Jason Thompson for being a mid-major Messiah or Donte Greene for not being Carmelo. Orange slices be damned were the overprotective team moms and as a consequence the question is, what should our emotional reaction to nights like tonight be? We know, we have to know, that this team just isn’t very good. We’re a sophisticated basketball bunch and no level of homerism changes the realities of youthful inexperience and aged inability. And realistically we need this team to play poorly. No, not poorly, just not consistently. We need them to play young, play confused, play spottily. Those are the hallmarks of rebuilding eras and the expediters of reconstruction. Of course we want this team to win but in good conscience we know it can’t and we know we need more nights like tonight. No one’s saying praying for a loss is a positive. Least of all me. The simple truth is the most rewarding part about being Team Mom is seeing your son compete each night and thinking its shades of things to come without knowing whether said kid is Kevin Martin or me. That should be our attitude this season. It’ll save a lot of us from liver cancer.