I've been a long-distance Kings fan since the early nineties. One day I discovered I knew people who knew people who lived in Davis -- I saved up the money so they could buy me a Mitch Richmond jersey (in the days before the internet you needed connections if you lived in New Zealand). Not only did this third degree association net me the jersey I lusted after, but I also got a poster of Mitch, Walt Williams, Brian Grant and Olden Polynice... signed by all four. I nearly died. (When I took it to get laminated and they botched the job, I nearly died a different death, but that's another story.)
This is all to say that I'm not a fly-by-night fan. I skipped lectures to watch the Western Conference Finals live in '02. I skipped a few more lectures to recover from that shot. I've checked Kings box scores in internet cafes in six continents as I followed my wanderlust. Somewhere, I think it was Turkey, I discovered Sactown Royalty and have lurked in the shadows ever since.
And in January of this year, I got to attend my first Kings game, albeit in Toronto, albeit a loss, albeit the Kenny Natt-era Kings...
Since it became clear the Kings were lottery bound, there's been a cheesy Hollywood quality to the fortunes of my - our - beloved team.
It was probably the Teen Wolf reference in the Chicago post-game thread that tipped me over the edge. Let me put it this way...
SCREENWRITER: …and then the vampire and the shapeshifter have a baby, and get this, it's evil!
PRODUCER: Do you have any ideas that don't involve vampires?
SCREENWRITER: But they're so hot right now. [Looks down at his notes]. Well, I've got an idea for a sports movie.
PRODUCER: I'm listening.
SCREENWRITER: Professional football team—
PRODUCER: Not another football movie.
SCREENWRITER: I mean basketball. The team struggled last season, just missed the playoffs.
PRODUCER: Not enough drama, they need to have stunk.
SCREENWRITER: Right: the team had the worst record in the league last year, which means they get the top pick in the draft—
PRODUCER: Too easy. What if they get screwed over by the draft lottery?
SCREENWRITER: Yeah, so they fall all the way to the fourth pick.
PRODUCER: And what if the guy the fans wanted all along falls to number four…
SCREENWRITER: And the GM picks someone else?
SCREENWRITER: Which means no one thinks this team will be any good. Some reckon it will be worse than last year. Some predict they will only win 12 games and challenge records for all-time futility. But they win their four of their first five games—
PRODUCER: Not so fast. Where’s the adversity?
SCREENWRITER: They lose their four of their first five games?
SCREENWRITER: And their best player fractures his wrist and is lost for two months.
PRODUCER: I like it. But there needs to be more injuries.
SCREENWRITER: What about if the guy many slated as their starting small forward has some freak training accident. An exercise ball pops while he’s lifting weights or something.
PRODUCER: A bit of comedy. I like it.
SCREENWRITER: So the team is forced to play its young guys. The rookie they took number four starts at point guard, even though people think he’s not a real point guard. Everyone expects the guy he’s replaced to sulk and sink to the end of the bench but he starts playing the best ball of his career. Their other first round draft pick is a scrappy sharp-shooter from Chile, playing for his entire nation.
PRODUCER: What about if he’s from Israel? Those tough Jews are all the rage in cinemas right now.
SCREENWRITER: Okay, sure. And they’ve got another rookie, an undersized brawler with an appetite for pancakes. And a vet that’s barely played in the last three seasons whose salary’s been killing the team, but now he starts to play meaningful minutes—
PRODUCER: Okay, okay, you don’t have to list the entire roster. What about the coach?
SCREENWRITER: Right, the coach has been out of the league for several years. He’s got a rap for not getting the most out of his players. The team really wanted someone else, maybe he was like, sixth on the list, but he’s the cheapest. The economy—
PRODUCER: Say no more.
SCREENWRITER: But the coach gets the team to gel. He’s not shy about playing his young guys, but keeps a tight leash. The team starts winning, flirting with .500, but can’t execute in the final two minutes, can’t buy a win on the road. Then the rookie point guard figures it out. Begins pulling off clutch shots and defensive stops. One game, they come back from, like, a 15 point deficit, on the road to a team that’s already beaten them in their own arena.
PRODUCER: Ratchet it up, make it 25 points. Heck, make it 35, it’s the movies.
SCREENWRITER: Right. Is that possible?
PRODUCER: Like you said earlier, Fantasy is a hot genre right now.
SCREENWRITER: So the rookie point guard is actually a shapeshifter?
PRODUCER: Don’t push it, Steven.
PRODUCER: And then what? They make the playoffs I guess, upset the top seed, win it all?
SCREENWRITER: Beats me.
PRODUCER: Go away and work on it. Give me a script in February, I’ll see if it stacks up.
TO BE CONTINUED…