“What goes around, comes around,
What comes up, must come down.” – Alicia Keys
***spoilers for Happy Death Day ahead***
I recently saw the movie Happy Death Day. In it, a young college student named Tree (yes, Tree), wakes up one morning to find herself in a Bill Murray/Groundhog Day scenario. She wakes up in a strange bed, walks home, realizes she’s late for class, stumbles in, goes back home, gets ready to go out for the night, and gets murdered. She wakes up in that strange bed, walks home, realizes she’s late for class, stumbles in, goes back home, finds herself at her own surprise party, and gets murdered. This vicious cycle continues dozens of times, each time ending with her death. Finally, she thinks she’s cracked the code. She wakes up in a strange bed, walks home, realizes she’s late for class, stumbles in, goes back home, gets ready to go out for the night, and kills her murderer. Then, she goes to bed. Happy ending, right? Nope. She wakes up in a stranger’s bed, walks home, and realizes she was murdered by her roommate. See, in every single one of these scenarios, her roommate offered her a cupcake and she never ate it—except for that last one. More stuff happens, but that’s beyond the point. The point is, no matter what she does, it always ends in painful death. Death that slowly wears on poor Tree, even as she wakes up in the previous day. So, why am I telling you all this/ What does my cinephilia have to do with our beloved Sacramento Kings?
That is the life of the Kings fan. We wake up with a strange team, go home, realize that we’re missing the playoffs, goes back home, gets ready for the next year, and watch our team get murdered. This has been every single season since 2006. Kevin Martin? Death. John Salmons? Death. Tyreke Evans? Death. John Salmons again? Death. Travis Outlaw? Life. Isaiah Thomas? Death. Boogie Cousins? Life...or so we thought. We thought we had the code figured out. We’ve done it many times. Mike Malone had us on the right track! Death. George Karl will fix us all! Death. Rajon Rondo will… serve a purpose? Death. So, what is the cause of all of this? We’ve tried to fix the problems. We’ve fired every coach. Death. We’ve listened to GMs. Death. We’ve let our owner mingle with our lives and our emotions. Death. But, we had the building block right there. DeMarcus Cousins. We thought he was the key. Just as Tree thought she figured out the escape from this never-ending limbo of death, and many thought that Boogie would be the one who would lead the team there. Just as Tree thought everything was fine, and death was figured out, so did the Kings fans who finally heard the solace that they needed. Boogie was here to stay. Right?
A few more words on Tree. She tends to shoot herself in the foot, burn a lot of bridges, and make people not want to be around her. This is where the greatest difference lies. Tree gradually gets better through each trial and each error. The Kings do no such things. Their greatest strength is getting out of each hole which they dig themselves by digging themselves a deeper hole. All of this culminated when they traded DeMarcus Cousins back in February. They let the fans think that they were in the clear. That a new, more stable day was near, and then they gave us the cupcake and we ate that thing up like a hungry preschooler.
But, why am I talking about this? That was February, this is October. A new day has come. We’ve just woken up with a new, strange team. DeMarcus Cousins comes back to the city where he spent his first few years for the first time since February, and in many ways it may be the end to that day. Everything will come full circle. Everything will be right with the world. If the Kings win, every person who rallied behind the trading of DeMarcus Cousins will feel vindicated. If they lose, the people like myself will think, Of course we did! We needed Boogie! and scream into the clouds about why we never should have traded him. But, this is not that piece. I don’t care if we win that game. I honestly don’t care if they lose, given the likely outcome of the season. It’s a new team, and I’m like 30% over that mind-numbingly terrible trade. We can theorize all we want about the effectiveness of that trade, and we will never reach consensus. In 20 years, when Vince Carter and the Sacramento Kings make the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the anti-Boogie crowd will scream, “I told that we’d finally do it!” While the Boogie fan club will scream, “We would have made it five years ago with him!”
No, the purpose of this piece is about the indisputable truth. The Sacramento Kings deserve to lose this game, and they deserve to lose it in embarrassing fashion. The players don’t deserve this, but they unfortunately get caught in the crossfire of the cycle of death and repetition. I hope De’Aaron, Skal, and the rest of these young fellows do a wonderful job on TV, and I hope that the Kings come out ahead, but they simply don’t deserve it. Whether you sing Demarcus’s praises, or spend your weekday hours from 4-7 talking about how much you do not care about him now that he is gone, you cannot deny that the Kings treated DeMarcus Cousins poorly in that last week before they traded him.
DeMarcus Cousins history is a complicated one. He certainly has some blemishes, some brought on by him, others due to different circumstances, but one can never question his loyalty to this franchise. A franchise that would throw him onto the court with a coach he never wanted—who nobody really wanted—a man who replaced the coach he loved unabashedly. The team that allowed that coach to be openly antagonistic to him and most of his teammates for a season-and-a-half. He stuck with this franchise through Maloof and Ranadivé alike. He stood by the fans during not one, but two relocation sagas. Taking basketball out of the equation altogether, he was great for the city and the other cities around it. And, how did the Kings repay him? They sent him halfway across the country and made his trade a spectacle during a weekend that is supposed to be for fun. Not only that, they did so just a week after publicly declaring their loyalty to the man. Not only that, they proceeded to drag his character. The team that had no issue signing Matt Barnes and throwing out two point-guards with their own problems was suddenly about character. Sure, there was one issue (where DeMarcus was cleared), and his on-court antics wore on some. But for a man who went through so much with this team, and always stayed loyal despite whatever terrible D’Alessandros were thrown his way, DeMarcus deserved better.
He was passionate—to some, too passionate—but, he didn’t deserve the exit that he got. He deserved to be told face to face. He deserved to have this team he gave so much for talk to him in person, tell him they were shopping him, and move along from there, but that didn’t happen. When DeMarcus Cousins drops a triple-triple on the Sacramento Kings on Thursday, I will not be upset. I saw what they did to him. I know our players don’t deserve it. But, he deserves to have the final word. He deserves to make this team upset. He deserves to embarrass the team that treated him oh, so poorly.
I love my team, and I love my owners, and I love you all (except Fippin), but the Kings have dug themselves another grave. Things appear to be looking up, and I love our great young core. I love the veterans whom we bought. I love our new arena. And I love being a Sacramento Kings fan, but I cannot wait to wake up in the same strange place so many years from now. DeMarcus escaped that dreadful loop already, and for that, he deserves to have the final laugh.