I've always had a sort of love/hate relationship with the movie Reservoir Dogs. In high school I pretended to like it because in high school I pretended to like a lot of things (smoking, Sonic Youth) I really didn't, to pretend I was cultured. In college I actually started to like it because in college I generally started to like the things I pretended to like in high school (smoking, still had trouble with Sonic Youth). As I got older I always thought it was an interesting movie but also always thought that being interesting is different than being entertaining. It was on recently, and while re-watching it I concluded that part of the reason the movie will always be so compelling is exactly the problem I have with it, that the whole is never quite equal to the sum of its parts. You have the ear cutting scene. Steve Buscemi. Michael Madsen. Madonna. The opening credits. There are some wonderfully iconic characters, performances, moments. But overall it's a movie that's about a heist gone wrong. It's been done a half billion times. It's a transcendent movie because of transcendent scenes, not because it's actually a transcendent movie.
It reminds me a bit of this Kings' season. As much as anything transcendent can remind anyone of this Kings' season. There is little to no question why we as a fan-base care so much about this team. We're fans. That's what fans do. And given where we were last year around this time there's an Anthony Soprano "every day is a gift" like quality to this team. A quality that maybe doesn't make us appreciate the performance of a John Salmons, but a quality that maybe prevents us from going completely apocalyptic regarding the performance of a John Salmons. That interest, that care I understand.
What is interesting to me is the interest from outside the 916 and 530. There's a tremendous amount of scrutiny for a team that not only isn't all that good, but realistically was never going to be all that good. Golden State is a mess and it took a barrage of boos at a jersey retirement to get anyone to pay attention to that situation. Portland is a sloppy afterthought. Same for Detroit. And yet people seem fixated on the Kings. Because, well, because they are interesting. Because this team's parts are for more entertaining than their underwhelming whole. It's not that the outside world feels all that strongly about the Kings, it's that they feel all that strongly about Kings. Cousins. Jimmer. Tyreke. Zeke. Petrie. The Kings have suddenly become an incubator for college cults, pet hoops theories both macro and micro and armies of one. This is a team that's long been in search of an identity. They finally found one. Unfortunately they also found 11 others.
Admittedly I've always been of the cult that argues positively that negative attention is still attention. I'm actually glad this Kings season is so intriguing to so many. I'm glad the message boards have been overrun by the Jimmerteers and Boogieites. Is it always the most thoughtful basketball discourse? Not really. (And that's just as much a knock on the Chad Fords, Bill Simmonses and Deadspins of the world as it is the Sacto4Life69's.) But so what? Basketball discourse doesn't always have to be thoughtful. It's nice to feel something other than the malaise and despondency of recent years. There's a visceral quality to the divisive. And as long as the Kings aren't going to please viscerally consistently on the court there's something to be said for their ability to please viscerally consistently off the court.
However a word of warning is necessary amidst all of this. It's the issue of perspective. Depending on the situation fans forever have either far too much or not nearly enough of it. Again we're fans, it is consequently hard to remain objective about our teams. I would not ask that. That, however, is different than not preserving some level of objectivity about the specific parts of said team. A Kings fan with an agenda is different than a Jimmer fan with an agenda. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with either but it is important to remember that each one's success is dependent on the other and that success in basketball comes from the collective and not the individual. In order for the careers of Jimmer, or DeMarcus, or Keith Smart, or even Petrie, to be considered successes, the Kings must succeed collectively. The only player, to a degree, currently exempt from that is Isaiah Thomas, and it is not coincidental that he's also been the team's, and the city's, best teammate.
This is an interesting team and time, and while the interest is entertaining that still doesn't mean this is always an entertaining team or time. An entertaining team is a team that plays fluidly, executives late in games and consequently wins with some consistency. There are elements of that now. But there have been elements of that in the past. Two years ago we were talking about green shoots in regards to Tyreke and Omri. This year we're talking about the same thing in regards to Isaiah and DeMarcus and Jimmer, without still fully understanding what we have with Tyreke (or Isaiah, or DeMarcus, or Jimmer). Sooner or later there needs to be consistency. Consistency, of course, can be boring. But so, after a point, can be being interesting.