City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

February 11, 2011
Coach Carril on what the Kings mean to Sacramento

In my ongoing quest to gauge what the Kings mean to this city, I sat down earlier this week with a coaching legend beloved by many Kings fans.

As I was leaving the Kings locker room before Wednesday night's game, Kings assistant coach Pete Carril was walking in - chocolate chip cookie in hand.

It was the first time we'd met, but he greeted me like we had known each other for years. He could not have been nicer. And as a guy who's been around this franchise for more than 12 years, I had to ask him for his thoughts on the relationship between the Kings and Sacramento.

"The fans love to watch the team play," he told me. "It's a working man's town, they don't have a lot of money to pay for expensive tickets, but they go because they love to watch the team play. Every time we have a little spurt (of winning), the fans get excited. So they still appreciate what we do when we're doing it right."

We started to chat about the bad economy and what losing LeBron James did to Cleveland. Naturally, the conversation shifted to what it would mean if this city lost its team.

"It would be devastating emotionally for the town," he said.

He said Los Angeles was able to absorb losing its NFL teams because it has other pro teams and Hollywood. For us, he said, "it's about stature" having a team.

As an aside, I wanted to add this old quote that has been attributed to Carril. He's from Bethleham, Pa., which is also a working man's town, and I think this quote really sums up Carril's approach to basketball:

"A player's ability to rebound is inversely proportional to the distance between where he was born and the nearest railroad tracks. The greater distance you live from the poor side of the railroad tracks, the less likely that you will be a good rebounder."

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at


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