What. A. Week. And again, because this is Sacramento, that exclamation has little to do with on the court substance; Instead the team has been derailed by offcourt drama yet again, and it seems that there is no end in sight for this team when it comes to becoming newsworthy for what they can accomplish on the floor instead of off it.
On a side note, apologies for the later schedule of the last couple Yetisburg Addresses. The Holiday season is upon us, and I’m caught up in it as well. Schedule should become a little more reliable once they’re past us.
The High Post
You know what’s really upsetting about this new off-court drama? The Kings actually played their best game of the season this week and we didn’t even get to really enjoy it. The win against the Memphis Grizzlies on the road was impressive across the board. It was not a pretty game, but pretty doesn’t exactly matter in the W/L column. The Kings were shorthanded against a Memphis team that had won 7 of 8 and was welcoming back one of their best players in Mike Conley. Sacramento played good, tough defense all night long and saw big contributions from roleplayers like Kosta Koufos, who might have had his best game as a King, tallying 16 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks against his former team. He was also the primary defender on Marc Gasol, and helped hold Gasol to 6 of 18 shooting.
This was a really good bounceback game after a drubbing in Houston. Too bad the team went out and laid an egg in Dallas or this would have been a really nice road trip. Sacramento’s really struggled with putting any consistency together at all this season. They’ve managed to win two games in a row just twice this year.
The Low Post
I don’t have much to add to this DeMarcus Cousins thing, especially because most of what I would say has already been written or talked about (Greg’s take is here, and section has his own take below). But before I get on to what I will talk about, I will just say, DeMarcus Cousins needs to stop reading every little thing that is written about him. He needs to tune out the noise because in today’s day and age all it takes for anyone to write something is an internet connection and it’s broadcast to thousands of people.
Now on to Arron Afflalo. What Afflalo has done is arguably worse than what Cousins has done because he is currently refusing to do his job. Dave Joerger was on KHTK yesterday and did not want to talk about this, which I completely understand, as he’s the type of coach who likes to keep things in-house. But for Afflalo to refuse to come in to a game when his number is called is inexcusable. Almost every single player on the entire team has had to deal with inconsistent minutes as the team looks for consistent production and Afflalo is the only one who has had the audacity to decide that if he isn’t going to be playing big minutes, he’s not going to be playing at all. As far as I’m concerned, the Kings should sit him the rest of the year if he’s going to act this way. It’s almost certain the Kings will look to trade him, but given his actions, and the fact that when he has played, he’s been awful, it’s not likely the Kings will find any takers.
The View from Section 214
…and here’s a letter from one of our StR members:
I am a long-time lurker, first time caller…love the show! I noticed that you had a strong take in the thread the other day in regards to DeMarcus Cousins vs. the press. Care to elaborate?
Thank you, completely_fictitious_StR_member. I would love to elaborate on this issue. Thank goodness you have requested that I do this!
(Pass out the hot soup and blankets, as this may take some time.)
The year was 1978. Andy Gibb and the Bee Gees were dominating the music charts, and my employment at College-Hi Shop was keeping me outfitted in Angel’s Flight slacks, Roland shirts, and Members Only jackets (the salmon color version was a rare find, indeed).
The job at the “Hi” helped keep the old ’68 Impala running, but my true passion was working for the Sacramento Suburban Newspapers, also known as “The Green Sheet.” TGS was a paper that landed on your driveway every Wednesday whether you wanted it or not, and once a month some poor kid would come by and attempt to collect 60 cents for the lime-colored rag, as often as not being chased off by an exasperated resident that was getting really tired of having to throw the damned thing out week after week. The kid pretty much got to keep what he collected, as TGS really subsisted off of the posting of legal notices, and The Sacramento Bee and Sacramento Union did not want to waste their agate type on such fare.
I think that I actually had the title of Assistant Sports Editor at TGS at some point, the result of Sports Editor (and all around great guy) Mike Marando needing a backup on those occasions where he might want to take a week off. Our sports page was almost entirely high school sports. Back in the 70’s, little attention was paid to local high school athletics. There was no TV coverage to speak of, and aside from TGS, only Ben Bodding of the Bee spent any time or effort covering the high school scene.
I would travel all over Sacramento, and would punch out 5-8 stories a week, as TGS printed different local versions: South Sac, Downtown, Foothill Farms, Carmichael, Rancho Cordova, Fair Oaks/Orangevale/Folsom, etc. It was a blast, covering a Burbank vs. Kennedy game, then heading out the next day to Del Campo vs. La Sierra. Football and basketball were the biggies, but we covered baseball and some track as well, with very minor forays into golf, tennis and the relatively new phenomenon of soccer. TGS paid 15 cents a column inch, so I always made sure to include a picture of each covered game. Cha-ching!
It was in ’78 that Del Campo (my alma mater) had apparently fashioned its first competitive football team since Vic Baker (Dusty’s younger brother) had graced the hallways of the Fair Oaks campus. The Cougars won their first two games of the season, and were ranked 7th in the area. They then proceeded to drop seven straight games.
I ventured out to Del Campo to find out what had happened to the Cougars. The assistant coaches did not wish to go on record, but head coach Ken Berry did speak with me, and I printed virtually everything that he had to say, which was primarily the usual: some tough breaks, injuries, etc.
I then called on various players. Being only one year removed from Del Campo, I knew a lot of these guys, and they were easy to track down. The players were pretty universally critical of the coaching. In an attempt to fashion out some balance within the article, I printed about 10% of what I gathered from the players (much of what was said was not really appropriate for 1978 print).
It should be noted that quoting 17-18 year old players was rather groundbreaking at the time. Simply, you just didn’t see high school athletes interviewed on TV or in the papers back then. That sort of stuff was left to the “adults.”
The article broke and all hell broke loose. I went to cover an early season Del Campo basketball game a couple of weeks later, and found that my press pass was no longer being honored, though Del Campo vice principal Werner Sargent (yes, the kids had some fun with that name) could not tell me whether this was a Del Campo or San Juan Unified School District edict.
I paid my way into the game (there was quite a delay while they figured out how to write me a receipt), and upon entering was flagged down by a couple of football players, who told me to be on the lookout for coach Berry. I didn’t think much of it, and was not alarmed when Berry came up to me shortly thereafter and asked if he could have a word with me outside. We headed into the locker room hallway, and it was not long after that that the heated head coach punched me in the chest. It probably should have knocked me down (I weighed about 110 lbs. soaking wet at the time), but I was so shocked that I simply extricated myself from the “conversation” and headed back inside, being sure to show good old Werner the red mark on my chest from where his head coach had hit me.
After the game I went to speak with basketball head coach (the late, great) Eli McCullough about his team’s performance on this evening. I had acted as team manager for McCullough in 1976 and 1977, he had been my algebra teacher, and a true and solid mentor. McCullough informed me that the Del Campo coaching staff (across the board) had determined that they would no longer speak with me, and that this decision could spread throughout the SJUSD. McCullough added that the players had been advised not to speak to me as well. I remember shaking my head and asking McCullough if the 1st amendment meant anything to this group of supposed-to-be teachers. He said that while he did not disagree with me, it was a political hot potato that no one wanted any part of. He also advised me to watch my back, as he was concerned that emotions were running high with certain folks.
Within days I had a meeting with Dick Stremple of the SJUSD. I made it clear that I would really prefer not to pursue legal avenues (mom wanted to sue in a big way), but I needed assurances that I would not be badgered or bullied while I did my job. I said that I respected anyone that did not want to speak to/with me, but I would have no respect or patience with any sort of collusion among the coaches across the district. Further, if TGS was no longer seen as a viable news reporting vessel by either Del Campo or SJUSD, I was going to need that in writing, including the reason(s) why. I was assured that my press pass would be honored across the district, and that it would be up to each individual coach to decide whether or not they wanted to speak to/with me.
Over the next few weeks and months, things cooled down and got back to “normal.” TGS would precede The Sacramento Union into non-existence, the salmon color Members Only jacket was permanently mothballed, and high school sports exploded in both popularity and coverage, including the interviewing of the actual participants.
That is my background, and that is why I see no wiggle room when DeMarcus Cousins attempts to intimidate a writer. I find it a bit nauseating when Dave Joerger suggests that everyone move on, when Cousins yet again has failed to recognize the error of his actions or apologize for them.
This is not to say that the fourth estate should be allowed to run amok, free of scrutiny. But this is to say that they should absolutely be able to execute their job in an environment that is free of intimidation, coercion, threats or exclusion. If a player does not want to speak with a writer, so be it. But this horseshit of not wanting to talk to anyone while that writer is in the room is just that – horseshit. It is cowardice. It is beneath contempt. It is the action of a spoiled child, one that would take his ball and go home at first provocation.
There is a standard for those that cover the Kings, be it Marcus Breton or Andy Furillo or Ailene Voisin or Jason Jones or Sam Amick or Aaron Bruski or James Ham or Blake Ellington or Leo Beas. And that standard is discussed each and every time they write an article. The comments within the threads of Sactown Royalty discuss the messengers nearly as often as they discuss the message. These writers are tried and either convicted or acquitted in the court of public opinion on a daily basis. They are lauded or loathed, thanked or thumped, yayed or brayed. Beyond that, they are all bound to the ethics of the publications for whom they write, and anyone that has spent even five minutes in the reporting industry can tell you that these ethical standards do indeed exist. Yes, there are rags that feed off of sensationalism. That is not what we are looking at here. What we are looking at here are working class writers, assigned to cover the Sacramento Kings.
I remember reading Mark Kreidler when he wrote for the Bee. I liked his style so much, I even enjoyed reading his articles when I disagreed with him. Tom Ziller is my most recent example of a guy that I don’t always agree with, but always respect (Greg Wissinger rings this bell for me as well). I fear that this is becoming a bygone era, that we can no longer respect a writer and disagree with him at the same time. And that if we disagree, we must cast aspersions and denigrate him/her along the way, simultaneously excusing or justifying the behavior of our “heros” over and over and over again.
I have a very real fear that we are heading to a place where professional sports franchises ultimately make the rules for what can and cannot be covered, what criticism can and cannot be leveled, and who can and cannot cover the team. And what we will be left with are organization mouthpieces. Forget about the potential conflict of interest when it comes to a guy like Grant Napear – I’m talking next level…and yes, believe it or not, there is a next level.
In this day and age, there is a definite need to vet information, verify sources of content, and get all sides of the story. And that can fly in the face of the speed that things come at you via social media. The need to breathe before reacting is becoming more and more essential. But with that said, what we absolutely cannot do is accept any sort of force that would make it more difficult for the story to be told.
To the writers and reporters that cover the Sacramento Kings, please accept my heartfelt thank you. I do not always agree with you. I will continue to question your point of view when it does not make sense to me. But as the owner of red mark on my chest long since healed, you have my unyielding respect for your execution of what has increasingly become a thankless job. Whatever your employer is paying you, it is not enough. That is certainly more than we can say about the team that you have chosen to cover.
Nice arena, though.
Kimani’s Photo of the Week
Player of the Week
14.5 PPG, .452 FG%, .440 3P%, 4.3 AST, 1.3 STL in 33.6 MPG
Temple’s numbers this week are even more impressive when you consider that they include his dreadful 1-10 performance against the Mavericks where basically anyone not named DeMarcus Cousins couldn’t buy a basket. Temple has gotten a lot of increased opportunity lately, including a promotion to the starting lineup, and he’s making the most of it. Not only is he playing his butt off on defense, he’s contributing on the other end of the floor, turning into one of Sacramento’s more reliable spot-up shooters.
Highlight of the Week
(all times Pacific)
12/20 vs. Portland Trail Blazers at 7:30 p.m.
12/21 at Utah Jazz at 6:00 p.m. (Oh boy another second night of a back to back in Utah!)
12/23 at Minnesota Timberwolves at 5:00 p.m.