Musings a day after K-Mart officially became 55KKMart (Ron Artest's the math major around here, but those not numerically-inclined should know that adds up to $55 million in a very awkward manner)...
So there's my feeble addition to the Kevin Martin nickname game started yesterday, and I contributed mainly because there hasn't been nearly enough response thus far. Among the few...
*His trainer/coach David Thorpe of the Pro Training Center in Florida (and ESPN.com contributor) offers "K-Smooth," because "My players down (in Bradenton, Fla.) here who saw Kevin in person for the first time are amazed at how smooth he is in terms of movements."
*Tom Harding of Martin's hometown of Zanesville, Ohio, couldn't settle on one name, offering "The Zanesville Ace," "Z Man," "KZ," and its alter ego of "Kay Zee." I'll opt for "Z Man" with the caveat that Martin's backstory needs to become more mainstream for the name to work.
*Famed Kings blogger Tom Ziller of www.sactownroyalty.com has nominated "Speedracer," which he writes is "based both on his quickness and that story you wrote about him his rookie year." To review, my day-in-the-life style Martin piece in 2004 included a line about how the seemingly-carefree youngster cruised down I-80 in his new car doing 85 mph with no seat belt. A small detail in a 2,000-word story incited unexpected uproar and anger from many in the community, with some furious with me for including the anecdote and others at Martin for his driving habits.
*Michael Brooks of Cameron Park has taken his ball and doesn't want to play the game. He says this K-Mart is Sacramento's K-Mart, meaning Kenyon Martin should be the one looking to change his moniker. And so as not to cut short Brooks' entire take, he expects big things out of recently signed forward Mikki Moore.
As for the rally on Wednesday, it went better than I expected. With the heat, the timing and the current fading pulse of so many Kings fans, I half expected to be part of the few dozen on hand rather than a few hundred. I know for a fact that at least one person was glad there weren't more people.
At the tail the end of the event, one of the four cops on horse back looked down from his saddle to see his trusty steed relieving himself No. 1 style in a disgustingly-large splash that had about a 10-foot radius. One of Kevin Martin's best friends, former Western Carolina teammate Terrence Woodyard, was taking home video for his buddy nearby but missed the moment that could have led him to America's Funniest Home Videos and, just maybe, his own sort of payday. Luckily, he and I both sidestepped the spray. Let's hope it wasn't some sort of omen.
Of note from the news conference was that coach Reggie Theus confirmed a theory I'd had while pondering the Kings' motivation for doing this deal now.
Locker room chemistry.
Trade rumors and all, Mike Bibby has been King in this town for much longer than Martin. Legal troubles and all, Ron Artest was quickly crowned for what he did in the second half of the 2005-06 season, not to mention the fact that he now enters a contract year. But Martin's status takes a quantum leap with this contract, with the peer respect that was already on the rise almost a certainty now that the organization has made this kind of commitment.
Those days when fans cried that Martin never had enough touches and former coach Eric Musselman questioned whether he could produce if given a larger role? Safe to say they're over.
"Being the young guy on the team, being the rookie, being all those things, it plays on veterans sometimes," Theus said of the fourth-year player. "Having a contract, an extension like this, the guys know he's going to be here. He becomes immediately a staple, one of the staples, of the team. And that, in and of itself, gives him credibility."
On a final note regarding Martin mania, I had an assertion regarding his hometown in today's paper that was quickly corrected by his hometown folks. While Martin and baseball player Jay Payton are among the few pro athletes to come out of the Ohio town, they aren't the only ones. Jim Rudloff - who was on the committee that recently elected Martin as one of 10 inductees to the Zanesville City Schools Hall of Fame - cites Clarence "Pee Wee" Jones (who played for Chicago Cubs in 1967 and 1968), Bob Gaiters (running back for New York Giants, 49ers and Denver Broncos in early 1960s), and LPGA golfer Michele Redman. Apologies to the town I learn more about every day, as I was previously misinformed.
- Sam Amick