So first things first. Sorry I have been in my cave. I have not posted in quite a while and although I have tried to read and keep up on what is going on with the Kings and the Arena situation, the topic has been too depressing for me to be glued to the news.
I definitely have an opinion on the Sacramento community, the Kings ownership as well as the so. cal climate and many times I have started to write but wasn't able to add too much original context so I would just erase and sigh and read someone else's thoughts and opinions that was a little quicker hitting the send button.
In quick summary it is bitter-sweet to have roots, family and friends in Sac while living down in Orange County and owning a business in LA County. Likewise it is a conundrum to hope Sacramento can pull out a hail maker while at the same time think about picking some seats out for next season at the Honda Center to watch the Kings.
Sorry to digress. One of my good friends from El Dorado Hills came down to the OC with an extra ticket for the NCAA Regional action tonight and of course I was elated to go. After the break I will quickly summarize the game and my half time conversation with Geoff Petrie.
Game I - Emotionally I was excited for San Diego State and the huge contingency that they brought against the UCONN Huskies. The Aztecs looked every bit as good as their rankings suggest save for the missed free throws and bad clock management late in the game.
In the end it didn't really matter because Kemba Walker had 22 in the second half and 36 overall with nobody able to stop him. He looked every bit a legit NBA starting point guard with his ability to nail several shots behind the arc despite hands in his face, create space and drain in the lane, or dump to the open man cutting to the basket. The isolation offense was taken right out of the NBA playbook and the kid just played out of his mind. HIs lateral quickness and explosive first step will certainly give him success at the next level and although like Tyreke he is not really an above the rim player, he got to the rim at will.
In the second game, Arizona practically lulled me to sleep with their ragged play ground play against a poised, deep, and defensively sound Duke team that just kept subbing in one great player after another in the first half.
The second half was totally different as Arizona got smart, played together, controlled the tempo, were patient and just manhandled a bewildered Duke team. Derrick Williams led all scorers with 36 points and was an absolute beast. At 6' 8" and 241 lbs., he is all muscle and despite an awkward release was extremely deadly draining threes when he wasn't throwing down jams. With a 60% 3 point accuracy and extremely physical style player, Demarcus could learn a thing or to about how not to foul as Derrick didn't pick up his first foul until two thirds of the way through the second half.
All in all two fantastic games to watch but neither were the highlight of the night for me. Geoff Petrie was sitting 3 rows in front of me in Section 218. I saw him stand up at half time of the second game and decided I would see if he would hang out on the concourse during the intermission.
As is typical for Geoff, he was standing by himself, aloof and thoughtful. Although he checked his phone he had no one to talk to and basically positioned himself up against a wall between a large post so that he practically blended into the structural support.
He was wearing a nice light blue linen dress shirt and tan blazer and holding on to a long green umbrella--I assume because he wanted to be prepared if it rained despite the forecast.
I walked by him and after gathering my courage turned around and went up to him and said hello--introducing myself to him as a Sacramento native that lives down here in Orange County and thought it would be great to acknowledge his attendance and get his take on the games.
When I asked him who he liked he smiled as if to say, well I am not really sure I want to answer that so I clarified that I wasn't asking in terms of whom he is considering for the Draft, just who impressed him. For UCONN, he was high on Jeremy Lamb, the Freshman and of course commented that Kemba Walker was unstoppable and has really developed his game as he could not hit the ocean as a freshman.
In the second game he said he liked what he saw in Kyrie Irving from Duke and liked Derrick Wiliams low post game. He seemed like he was hesitant to talk more about his observations as he trailed off and so I switched gears.
I told him that I was a big fan of his and appreciated his commitment to the Kings organization knowing he had to take a pay cut to stay on and probably could have moved on to a larger market for more money. I respected the challenges that he has working with in an ownership that has little disposable cash, in a tough market, and with a facility that is obsolete. I told him that 2002 & 2003 should have been his years and it was nice to see his continued effort to get this team back there again and finish what he started. Geoff actually gave me a real nice smile and shrug and began to confirm that it is really a challenge to make moves, and lure recruits and free agents when they see the facility and know the Kings will not be the highest bidder. He elaborated about Power Balance Pavilion's deficiencies and seemed almost frustrated that he can't affect any change in that regard.
I felt like he was starting to open up to me at this point so I asked if he felt like something was going to get done in Sacramento. He looked at me with doubtful eyes and said that of course there are rumors about supposedly there is some money that has been found, he spoke pessimistically about the fact there is no approved project and no construction going on.
I told him that I thought Anaheim's facility wasn't much better as it is similar in layout in design except for a second row of suites and nice stone floors throughout the concourses. He nodded and said yeah its better but has no clue about the market down here either. I told him that with The Angels, the Ducks, the Lakers, the LA Kings, the Clippers, the Chargers, UCLA and USC, there are already so many options for companies to spend money on sports it is difficult for the Kings to develop a good corporate fan base to support them here. He nodded again and seemed discouraged but resigned to leaving that in the hands of the owners to figure out.
I complemented him on his recent picks and told him that the more the consensus feels he has picked the wrong guy, the more that pick seems to be well suited for us and how I really delight when he makes us all say huh?? I shared my affinity for Tyreke and Demarcus and asked his thoughts on his draft history in terms of which draft he wished he could have back. He chuckled and said he wished he could have a redo on Quincy Douby. He said in his defense he was really only looking for a solid outside shooter and thought Quincy might deliver that. He loves Rajon Rondo but didn't have much to go on from his college career.
I told him I was disappointed in how JT and Spencer Hawes turned out and he concurred that they are merely good role players really.
I asked if he was really close to pulling the trigger on a big trade around the deadline and he played dumb and denied knowing much in terms of any serious trade talks and of course I didn't want to pry.
He asked me where I lived and how I liked it down here and I shared how I felt it compared and then I asked him did he feel handcuffed in his ability to make deals happen or did he believe most of his peers seem to be in the same boat save for large market teams like LA. Geoff actually confirmed that he felt more constrained in Sac because of the market, the lack of money with the ownership right now and with the uncertainty of the teams geographic future. He pined for a time when he has some more freedom to bring in what he thinks the Kings need.
When considering the Kings future in Sacramento, he adding that it would be a real shame for the Kings to leave Sacramento.
We talked about a few more things and then I shook his hand, thanking him and told him that I occasionally blog on Sactownroyalty and hoped he enjoyed the second half.
He was more personable that I thought he would be and while he always seems content to be alone, I definitely felt like he was happier to at least talk about basketball with someone versus stand there by himself. I didn't see him to be too interested in the facility and he was stoic as he sat quietly watching the teams play very much like he does standing behind the basket at most Kings' games.
I just wonder if he looked around at all and said this might be my next stop. I hope they have good soul food here.