Of course the clouds left with the Kings.
Of course Thursday thunderstorms disappeared from the Phoenix sky a day later, when the flights started coming and going with ease and a place recognized for its endless sun returned to form. And this being the land of many golf links, you could safely say that's par for the course.
Reliable league sources tell me a cloud is indeed on this team's tail, and the pesky cumulus has been there from just about, oh, the very start. In the latest will-this-season-ever-just-be-about-hoops moment, the small forward had to do the two-court shuffle (basketball and legal) Thursday per his recent troubles. But of course, that wasn't enough. The aforementioned moisture sponges went from figurative to literal, actually blocking Ron Artest from entering town.
The cumulative effect of the cumulus is starting to become more apparent, with Kings players stopping well short of blaming this season on an individual or two but shaking their heads at how the issues keep coming in endless waves.
After the Artest-less Kings dropped their eighth game in nine tries, I stayed in town to soak up some spring training baseball with a few fellow media types. And while watching the A's host the Padres there was a fresh-start feel in the air that's been gone from Kingsland for some time.
And with their season's end fast approaching, the talk will soon turn to their own new beginning. As it stands, the Kings are tied for the eighth worst record in the league, with every loss improving their pick in the June draft. The lot of youngsters could very well have the versatile big man they so badly need, and fans should take solace in knowing that team execs Geoff Petrie and Wayne Cooper have been racking up the frequent flyer miles scouting the talent. The off-season trade chatter and buzz about coach Eric Musselman's job status will bring their own sort of intrigue for those with fleeting purple passion.
As Petrie himself sometimes tells his players when rough times come, the sun will rise again in the morning. For now, though, this remains one long, dark Kings night.
- Sam Amick