Well, what a difference two months makes.
In fact, what a difference two weeks makes. Because, although the Kings were losing steadily before the All Star break, there was still hope. Not hope for the playoffs this year, mind you, but that the film (and this cast) would have a happy ending. The young guys were still young, and (some) people here still preached patience. Kmart had his problems, and his detractors, but the majority were still willing to wait and see if the Evans/Martin backcourt would work.
Now we'll never know (unless the Kings = Rockets Farm Team theory is true and we offload Evans for expirings in a couple of years…).
Now we've got Carl Landry, who looks like a fine (offensive) player, but makes it even more clear how far away from finished our Front Court of the Future (i.e. a future where we make the playoffs) picture really is.
Now we're suddenly thin at both guard spots (and have no one to sub in when we're down 30 -- as we'll surely be a few more times this season -- to pick up the pace and throw caution to the wind).
Now we've got rumors and innuendo about problems in the locker room.
Now we've got Spencer Hawes in whatever is worse than Westphal's dog house (outhouse?).
What is this? A horror movie? One of those chick flicks where the middle-aged widower meets the middle-aged divorcee, they fall in love, then she dies of cancer?
But check your ticket stubs, folks, and you'll find this is exactly the kind of movie you signed on for at the start of the season. Everyone knew the Kings were rebuilding. We started off flirting with .500, but then we did that for the first ten games of the 2008/09 season, and we all know how that ended.
Perhaps, what we're watching unfold before our eyes is the sporting version of The Wire. Long, involved, some may say convoluted, not exactly brimming with joie de vivre, but always intriguing. If the team isn't gritty on the court (Brockman and Dorsey excluded), that label sure seems to fit the drama off the court.
And how about this, from Wikipedia’s section on "Cast and Characters":
The Wire [The Kings] employs a broad ensemble cast... The majority of the cast is African American, which accurately reflects the demographics of Baltimore [the NBA]… The show's creators are also willing to kill off [trade] major characters [players], so that viewers cannot assume that a given character [player] will survive simply because of a starring role or popularity among fans. In response to a question on why a certain character had to die [be traded], David Simon [Geoff Petrie] said,
We are not selling hope, or audience gratification, or cheap victories with this show [team]. The Wire [The Kings] is [are] making an argument about what institutions—bureaucracies, criminal enterprises [the NBA?], the cultures of addiction [fanatical support], raw capitalism even—do to individuals. It is not designed purely as an entertainment. It is, I'm afraid, a somewhat angry show.
Anger may not be the general tenor of posts at Sactown Royalty just yet. But we’re all passionate fans, and there’s only so long passion and disappointment can be contained before we need to let off steam.
The Kings are holding up a mirror on life and "it is not designed purely as entertainment." The great scriptwriter in the sky (God? Petrie? Stern? David Simon?) has deemed that Kings fans need to suffer a little more before tasting success.
But if we acknowledge what this season will not have (a Cinderella ending, a voice-over to help explain things) I still believe there’s enjoyment to be had.
Why not revel in the absurdity that is Donte Greene (someone most thought would/should spend some time in D-League before the season started) being asked to start at Power Forward then Shooting Guard in the space of a few games?
Or the surprise PG solutions Westphal will be forced to come up with when Beno or Tyreke sits out with an injury (together they’ve missed eight games this season, that’s one of them in street clothes 14% of the time).
Or the last twenty-something appearances of Sean May in a King’s uniform (I mean warm-ups).
Or the very real tussle Tyreke is now engaged in for R.O.Y. honors with Steph Curry.
Or Kayte Christensen.
Or Ziller’s graphs.
Raw capitalism and bureaucracy (or a lack of experience, talent and consistency) may keep the Kings down this season, but there’s enough sub-plots on the go to keep me tuning in.