I like to think that fans of Sacramento Kings basketball have learned over the past <checks calendar> six years to excuse losses and losing. We learned long ago that Rebuilding has a best friend named Defeat, and that they hang out all of the fricking time. Most of us accepted in 2007 that the team faced a dark future and needed to get worse in order to get better. So we hung on as the expensive pieces were pawned for basically nothing -- Mike Bibby and Brad Miller literally got the team nothing in return -- and the first set of building blocks (Kevin Martin, Quincy Douby, Spencer Hawes) were cast aside for newer, 'better' ones. We survived 2008-09, somehow. We came to terms with a long twilight, and prayed hard for a forthcoming dawn.
But one thing that's proven more difficult is excusing mistakes. It popped up Sunday when Tyreke Evans made a bad foul that essentially cost the Kings the game against Cleveland. Evans rapped Kyrie Irving with Sacramento up one and just seconds left. Irving hit his free throws, and the Kings didn't get a shot off on the other end. It was a bad, bad play from Tyreke.
... and it's easy for the next statement to be that it was an "inexcusable" mistake. But that's not true. We can excuse it. We excuse the loss, right? This team isn't ready to win consistently on the road, not with a shallow roster, potentially mismatched parts and so much youth. Detroit and Cleveland are iffy teams, but this isn't the Wizards and Bobcats. These teams that are beating the Kings are beating good teams, too. We can rationalize the loss itself, because the Kings are not good, because winning on the road is difficult, because the team is young.
Don't those carry over to the individual mistake as well? Tyreke is young, relatively inexperienced and was on the road. He's won games before on pluck and instinct ... he lost this one on misguided instinct, over-eager pluck. He's not a stupid player because he made that mistake. Hell, on the very same night, an NBA All-Star -- Andre Iguodala -- did the same exact thing. fouling Kevin Love with Philadelphia up one and just seconds left. The Sixers are a winning team, and so Iguodala's mistake is not held in higher esteem as a character flaw and an irredeemable avatar for that which is wrong with him. The Kings suck, so Tyreke comes to embody that failure for having lost the game.
It's not fair to Tyreke. When Isaiah or DeMarcus or Jimmer makes a similar mistake -- and they will -- they will deserve the opportunity to have made a mistake and to have learned from it. You can't accept the loses without accepting the mistakes that create the losses. You can't spin the atoms without acknowledging the quarks. The mistakes, no matter how egregious, are a part of deal, so deal with them.