Joe Kleine is Doc Holliday, and Doc Holliday is Joe Kleine
(This is the seventh installment of how section214 became charged with and set to the responsibility of putting together an all-time roster for the Sacramento Kings. The first installment can be found here, the second installment can be found here, the third installment can be found here, the fourth installment can be found here, the fifth installment can be found here, and the sixth installment can be found here. The final installment(?) will be coming next week.)
Geoff Petrie, Jerry Reynolds and I all took a moment after the cutting of Lawrence Funderburke, Hedo Turkoglu, Jon Barry, and Kenny Smith. We were excited about the team that we were building, but it has never been easy saying goodbye to good Kings. We stood in the parking lot just outside of the practice facility, listening to the drone of the traffic from Truxel Road and sensing the first hint of the evening’s Delta breeze. We smiled at each other, and silently agreed that it was time to resume the scrimmage.
Petrie, Reynolds and I had only been out of the practice facility for a few minutes, but it was apparently enough time for Scot Pollard to re-tell his Texas Hold ‘Em dream to the group. Apparently, Pollard had a burning desire to relive the dream that he had experienced during his trunk-encased time jump.
Pollard had convinced Joe Kleine and Ron Artest to dress up as Doc Holliday and Mother Teresa, respectively, though to hear Pollard tell it later, Ron really didn’t need a whole lot of convincing. Artest dressed himself as the mother of all all mothers via the used (ugh!) towel bin, while Kleine outfitted himself as Holliday by going through Brad Miller’s locker. "Call me ‘Mother,’" said Ron. Chris Webber placed a hand gag over Jason Williams’ mouth before he could respond.
The other players added themselves to the scene. Bobby Jackson stepped in as the dealer. Wayman Tisdale pulled out his bass and turned it into a four-string player piano. Reggie Theus was volunteered by Mitch Richmond to be the town hooker, causing Reggie to storm off, followed quickly by Jackie and Doug Christie, as Jackie didn’t cotton to any of this hooker talk.
The game was fractured at best, but it did have some moments, beginning when Webber and Vlade Divac began entertaining themselves from the gallery:
Webber: These cards are marked!
Divac: They’re a mess.
Webber: Yeah, a chocolate mess.
Williams: What the f*ck are you f*ckers f*ckin’ talkin’ about?
Divac: It’s from the old "M & M’s" ad, remember?
Williams: What the f*ck is next? Are you going to dance the f*ckin’ Fig Newton?
Kevin Martin (quietly to himself): Gooey, gooey, rich and chewy inside. Golden flakey tender cakey outside…
Peja Stojakovic (looking disdainfully at Martin): Soft. F*cking soft.
The conversation around the card table wasn’t much better, as noted by this exchange that took place during one hand:
Jackson: Bet’s to you, Mother Teresa.
Artest: Do you have any…three’s?
Kleine: Man, these chaps are really riding up.
Pollard: Oh baby, I’m hot tonight. Hit me, tube sock!
Artest: This really isn’t my game. I’m much better at Crazy 8’s. Or crazy 93’s. Or crazy 37’s. Or…
Kleine: Hey, Brad, did you know that you left a baggie of smoking tobacco in the pocket here?
It quickly devolved into a game of Strip Texas Hold ‘Em, and Artest was peeling away portions of his habit, win, lose or draw. Kleine kept dropping his cards on the floor, but Pollard and Artest quickly realized that Joe wasn’t trying to cheat – he was just having difficulty holding on to five cards at one time. Pollard kept calling Brian Grant "pretty lady," and Grant did not seem amused. As soon as Artest had stripped down to only his jock and rosaries, we put a stop to the proceedings. "Who won?" asked Pollard. "Evers Burns," answered Reynolds, giving me a wink and a nod. "Cool," answered Pollard.
Petrie, Reynolds and I huddled. We were ready to award our first roster spots, though we were not ready to name starters. That said, we knew that Mike Bibby, Divac, Jackson, Miller, Richmond, Stojakovic, and Webber were all making this team. We made the announcement, much to the delight of the magnificent seven, and much to the chagrin of Jackie Christie, who asked for a private word with Petrie. Two minutes later, Christie was added to the roster.
We split the remaining 14 guys into two teams:
Team 1: Kleine, Pollard, Tisdale, Eddie Johnson, Lionel Simmons, Theus and Williams.
We started the scrimmage with Kleine and Johnson on the bench for team #1, and Thorpe and Williamson on the bench for team #2.
The first thing that we noticed was that given the chance, Evans and Martin actually played quite well together. For a NaPG, Evans found Martin time and time again, and Speed seemed to be enjoying the abuse that he was dishing out in Reggie Theus’ direction.
We also noticed that whenever Team #1 scored, Artest would cover the guy that scored the next time down the floor. Tisdale hit a flip shot, and Artest was all over Wayman the next time down the floor. Williams hit a 3-pointer, and Artest was in his hip pocket as soon as team #1 regained possession. Of course, Ron was all over the place on the offensive end, too. High post, low post, wing, top of key, baseline – the sonofabitch was everywhere, and confusing young Tyreke every step of the way.
We inserted Kleine for Pollard, and watching poor Joe trying to handle one J-Will pass after another was both comical and heartbreaking. He made Mikki Moore look like C-Webb. Joe’s only hope at this point was to suck up to Jackie Christie.
Lionel Simmons continued his quiet but effective camp, even getting Artest out of position with his series of low post and drop step moves. Williamson did not fare much better against Simmons when we inserted him for Artest, but we had to put Ron right back in when Martin slipped and fell on some baby oil that had dripped off of Theus and onto the floor.
Pollard, sensing that time might be running out for him, tied himself to one of the basketball standards, yelling "Death to all tyrants!" Williams nailed poor Scot in the crotch with a perfect elbow pass. "Tyrant that, you cross-eyed mother*cker!" crowed Williams.
We had seen enough, so we blew the whistle and gathered everyone in. It was time to place the next guys on the roster.
We decided to award two more roster spots at this time, and we would also be sending four more guys home. That would bring us to ten guys on the roster, with eight guys still in limbo.
Tisdale and Simmons were given the good news, and they gladly joined their teammates. Tizzy was wearing a grin that was larger than the ice packs that adorned Simmons’ knees.
We gave Thorpe and Johnson their walking papers. Pollard was already gone (way, way gone), so letting him go was just a formality. "I have a lunch date with Jesus," exclaimed Pollard. "I'm bringing the Grey Goose, and he's bringing the manna, straight from heaven. Jesus says that it tastes just like Darko Milicic. I have no idea what that means, but it has to be good, right?"
Artest, Evans, Grant, Martin, Theus, Thompson, Williams and Williamson had at least survived another session.
That left me with the unkindest cut of all.
Me: You know that I hate to do this, Joe. After all, you were my captain’s pick. You’re the reason that I was constantly drunk as a young Kings fan, and I’ll never be able to repay you for that.
Joe: Aw, that’s OK, section. I’m just happy that no one mentioned Karl Malone the entire time that I was here.
Me (misting up): I’m gonna miss you, Joe.
Joe: Ditto, section. Ditto.
And with that, Kleine reached for my hand…and grasped it! He gave my hand a firm shake, and headed for the door. When he got to the doorway, he turned around and looked back at the remaining players.
Joe: Do me a favor. Win one for me, will you, boys?
The Remaining Players: JOOOOOOE!!!
And then Joe Kleine tripped over his own feet as he headed out the door.
Williams (wearing a warm smile): F*cking Joe.