I'm happy for Brad Miller. He played in Sacramento for a long time, bridging the Webber-Peja-Vlade era with the Martin-Shock-Hawes era. He wasn't the most reliable bridge. A little shaky at times. But vital, and memorable, and I'm happy he gets to play on such a magnificent stage near home. When he hit all those free throws last night, I smiled.
John Salmons -- I'm happy for him, too. A so-called "good soldier" in Sacramento, he never gave anyone reason to wish him ill. (Except for all that dribbling. But no matter.) He's a good guy (if seething), a nice player (if uneven) and he has never let himself get caught in the NBA lifestyle, which is rare and commendable. (This isn't to say those who do get caught in the NBA lifestyle are bad -- it just speaks of internal strength to have the will to reject it.)
But with him, it's different. He blossomed in Sacramento. He became John Salmons in Sacramento. Switching hands on lay-ups -- it's like the divine compells him to switch hands! -- is a trait we knew about before the rest of the world did. Cocking his head on the pull-up jumper -- that's our head cock! (Wait a minute ... I mean, nevermind.)
Nothing about Johnny has changed in Chicago, and that leaves me feeling extraordinarily conflicted. I mentioned this to Shoals last night -- how I didn't know how to feel about Salmons hitting the public stage in a Bulls uniform. He suggested it was the difference between a proud father or a spurned lover. And that's right. On some of these plays (like the suffocating defense he's played on Paul Pierce on two buzzer shots), I beam with pride. That's John Salmons! I know him!
On others, like the ridiculous up-and-under captured above, or those incessant hand switches, or the bomb of a three in (I think) the second overtime -- damn man, you learned that in Sacramento! That play should have a citation! Where are the footnotes that tell the viewer these plays were born in Sacramento, raised at ARCO Arena -- the city that gave you a chance and time. The city that gave you a path to the public stage.
As for the third 2008-09 King in this series ... you all know I have an immense fondness for Mikki Moore. At the same time, we knew Boston put too many eggs in his basket commensurate to his skill level. I have too much respect for Mikki's lifetime of hard work to toss out a "told ya so," but I will say that it's evident of this Kings team's lack of frontcourt talent over the past years that a starter for 1-1/2 years here can't get off the bench in a triple-overtime game for a team coached by a man who values veteran savvy as much as any other coach in the NBA.