The square duck: my message to the Sacramento Kings

If you could become Keith Smart for a day, what would you say to the Kings? Kevin Fippin offers his answer.

News flash: Keith Smart has a pretty difficult job. He's not only tasked with designing a winning game strategy and managing rotations, but he's also responsible for motivating a very young team. Many would tell you that he's lost the ability to inspire this group. Some might even argue that he never could. I'm not going to talk to you about coaching changes or personnel decisions. Actually, I'm going to talk to you about art projects...but we'll get to that a bit later.

Imagine you were given the opportunity to try and light a fire under this team's collective ass. What would you tell them? How would you reach them? It's a question I've been pondering of late. Would it mean more coming from a fan? Would I try to appeal to their sense of pride? Professionalism? Competiveness? Loyalty? Do they even want to be inspired? Do they even NEED to be inspired? They are professional athletes after all.

As fans of a struggling team, I think we would all jump at the opportunity to look our guys in the eye and tell them what we're thinking. We would do anything to tell them how we live for the 3-point shots, amazing passes, and soaring dunks. We'd jump at the chance to tell them how we die a bit inside with every turnover, tough break, or loss. And lets face it: Kings fans have done their share of dying lately. If no one else has been able to reach this team, then why not give us a chance, right? What would you say? What would I say for that matter? Would it even make a difference? Well, consider this my audition.

***

Many years ago, someone told me a story about a little boy. He loved to play with LEGOS while watching cartoons. He loved playing baseball and pretending he was a super hero. He attended Kindergarten, walked to school with his grandma, and wore a Snap, Crackle, and Pop backpack everyday. He was a good kid but he was nothing remarkable.

Like many Kindergarteners he spent most of his day pretending to be a transformer, eating play dough, and doing art projects. This is the story of one particular art project that oddly enough, would shape his life forever. This is the story of "The Square Duck."

Upon arriving to school one day the boy was handed a lifelike picture of a duck, several sheets of construction paper, a stick of glue, and scissors. It's important to note that these were not the scissors you and I know and enjoy using today. These were evil scissors. Evil...dull...scissors that dug into a small kids hand and made it virtually impossible to cut paper into round shapes.

This project was simple enough. Using the paper, crappy ass devil scissors, and a stick of glue to make a duck that looks just like the example provided. Our hero struggled mightily that day, for ducks are round and the scissors just weren't havin' any of that nonsense. To this day, many people wonder if it was the laziness of the boy, the crappiness of the scissors, or a combination of the two that led to the creation of the "Square Duck." But one thing is for sure....that duck was SQUARE. This was not a proud waterfowl by any means. Let's put it this way- if Brad Miller was out hunting, he would likely pass this dude up.

The boy's teacher was concerned. She thought, "Who looks at a picture of a duck and see's some kind of yellow brick with wings? This kid has problems!" She immediately phoned the boy's mother and demanded that he be tested for a variety of learning disabilities.

The tests would all come back negative and the boy's mother was none too happy with the outrageous assumption that something might be wrong with her little Lego Maniac. When she looked at the Square Duck she saw something special. She saw something different and unique. She was proud of this ugly Tetris block with feet.

The boy was never asked why he made a Square Duck. But, I bet if you asked him, he might tell you he did it because he had to. He might tell you that the scissors sucked, they hurt his hand, and he needed to make a duck, so he did. He did the best job he could with the tools at hand and he didn't make excuses. The result was unorthodox. Some might even call it ugly. But, everyone calls it a duck.

That's where you come in Marcus, Jimmer, IT, Tyreke, and DeMarcus. You see TRob, Salmons, JT, Travis, and Chuck Wagon and the rest...this has more to do with you than you think. Many experts look at you all and see a group of mismatched players. They see a bunch of parts that don't compliment each other. They see dull scissors and undersized point guards. They see an old glue stick and wing players that can't shoot. They see dried up markers and players who won't pass. You've played all season like you're trying to imitate what everyone else's idea of good NBA team is when all you really need to be is YOU. You weren't put on this team to be someone you aren't. You were placed on this team because you have a set of skills that someone finds valuable. Someone looked at you and thought maybe, just maybe, when you combine those skills with the skills of the man sitting next to you, they might just end up with something special.

This is not a team full of super stars. This is not a team full of All Stars. You aren't the most expensive group of players. You can't play by the same rules as OKC or Miami and expect to win. You're the SACRAMENTO Kings and it's time to embrace that reality. You play for the city with the craziest group of fans in the NBA. A city that hasn't stopped fighting for the privilege of watching you play this game. It's time to realize exactly who you are, and try to come together to be something better than you could ever hope to be as a hodgepodge of individual parts. Much like the city whose name is stitched across your chest, you're going to have to fight tooth and nail, if you're to have any chance at success. And...you're going to have to do it together.

You still have time. Start today. Start right now. Look at the man next to you and realize he's just like you and you need each other to survive. Like I said, someone looked at you and believed. Someone thought they could take these parts that few else wanted, smash them all together, and create something special. And he's not alone; despite what the experts think, and no matter how frustrated we might get, many of us still believe. We still watch every game and we live and die with each win and loss. Now it's up to you. What do you want to be? If you come together now, they might just get more than they bargained for. They might just get ... a SQUARE DUCK.

***

To whom it may concern. My name is Kevin Fippin, I am obviously the boy from the story, the duck is awesome, and I'm available for consultations. Call me. Call any one of us. We all have a story to tell.

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