The Lakers showed up to Arco Arena (screw “Power Balance”) last night looking to bounce back from their soul-crushing loss to the Chicago Bulls. In their minds they were probably thinking that defeating the Kings should be a piece of cake. I feel this is a safe assumption to make since in the past they have so eloquently referred to our team as the Sacramento “Queens”, displaying less than the minimal amount of respect deserving of any NBA team.
I guess they have their reasons. I mean, in the grand scheme of it all the Lakers come from a major metropolitan area with a fancy new arena and have multiple championship seasons, boasting rosters full of hall-of-famers and season MVP’s. We here are just a humble cow town with no championship banners or rings, no real history of marquee players, a sub-par arena which we are still making payments on, and a questionable future.
But that may be what makes it even more sweet and exciting as a fan. The Lakers came to Sacramento last night for the Kings blackout season opener and found themselves unable to play in the dark. The home team, in spite of all of the drama they have gone through in the last year with not knowing where they might end up followed by the pressure that was felt across the NBA due to the lockout, showed up and outplayed the Lakers in a hell of a season opener which ended in a 100-91 victory over Los Angeles. All I could say was “wow!”
While the trash talking between Lakers and Kings fans in the preceding hours before the game came to a dull mumble when the clock ran out, there were still a some Lakers fans that had something to say about the victory. There were a few “it is just the start of the season, don’t worry we’ll be back” and a couple “this is what happens when you play two games back to back”. But the most remarkable comeback from fans of the losing team in Monday nights game was this: “how many championships do you guys have?”
It never fails. If I had a dollar for every time I heard this from the fan of a championship team that we got the drop on, I would be a millionaire. But you know what? That’s alright with me. Because where championship-winning team fans allow past accomplishments to supersede the fact that they just got their asses handed to them, the Kings and their fans are more than satisfied with a victory over a championship team whose claim to fame is what went on in previous seasons or the anticipation as to what will happen in the playoffs.
That is why I take pride in my team. It is no secret to my buddies that I am not a huge basketball fan. In fact, it is a running joke in my circle of friends that I am probably the only black guy they know that would rather watch a soccer game or a hot dog eating contest before an NBA game. But I love the Kings. I will take these underdogs with nothing promised and the odds stacked against them any day over a solid championship contender with arguably one of the best players to ever play the game in the forefront.
I hope that works out for Lakers fans. Where they see a team that unfortunately has already plateaued as far as it’s players being in their prime, we here in Sacramento are taking it game by game, watching our team grow and develop and mature into something great. And though we may not have a huge city propping us up, a nice new arena in which to host games, banners upon banners and fancy jewelry to boot, or a league MVP that is cloaked in scandals and is notorious for being a douche bag …it’s all hardly necessary to make for a good season. May Lakers fans find comfort in those luxuries after getting beat by a team who does not have them.
It is a promising start for our guys to say the least. In all honesty, if we do not go all the way this year or even next year or the year after, it really makes no matter to me (I am accustomed to not making it being that I am also a Raiders fan). What matters is that these guys go out and give the fans what they want…a fighting chance and a good game and a fair representation of what our city stands for. Winning would be nice too, but we will get there one day. For now let’s just savor the moment and roll with the fact that for one night we owned Kobe Bryant and the Lakers and that even though the NBA strike is over, the blackout continues. Go Kings!