A friend sent me a text message in the second half of the Kings' win over Seattle on Tuesday night, offering advice for the team's new coach.
"You should tell (Reggie) Theus to go straight home after the game," the message read.
It was, of course, a reference to the unofficial anniversary of Eric Musselman's DUI arrest. After the Kings' preseason home opener last year against Utah, all the news of a productive training camp and motivated team was halted by the damaging distraction of Musselman's blunder. To call the night ominous of the season that woudl follow is an understatement.
And on that logic alone, Theus - who said on Monday that he doesn't drink alcohol - is ahead of the old regime at this point. The players seem to be buying what he's selling, and his game control and rapport with players was apparent in the opener. The only distraction has been the curfew he implemented, a move that only increased his popularity among fans.
His welcome was certainly warm from the fans, but there sure were a lot of empty seats inside Arco. Musselman's home opener was a sellout (17,317), but there were just 13,284 this time.
A few quick impressions from the game...
* New addition Mikki Moore was right when he said afterward that he had rushed things. I'll go ahead and pretend his debut is on Thursday, because he didn't give nearly enough to see what he can be.
* Orien Greene appears to be the early leader over Mustafa Shakur, at least according to Theus' gameplan. Shakur didn't play and Greene received 15 minutes, and I'm beginning to wonder if Greene could make the squad as a combo guard because of his defense. He can guard ones, twos and threes, and may be given a chance to if he can play with some serious confidence on offense. Run the team, move the ball quickly and wisely, take (and make) open jumpers when they're there. Easier said than done, though.
* Even with Shareef Abdur-Rahim sidelined, the annual question of who starts at power forward remains. Kenny Thomas was given the nod in the opener over Moore, but stay tuned. Neither one did much to win the spot against Seattle, although Thomas' eight rebounds to Moore's one give him the easy edge as the Kings - get this - actually outrebounded a team, 42-40. Moore may also play significant time at center, too, and Justin Williams could be brought in as a power forward.
For those who enjoyed the story on Daniel Shapiro and his battle with throat cancer, check out this training clip of the Kings' strength and conditioning coach in action.
You can see the headset he wore to help project his voice, the one that earned him the nickname "JT" because he looked like Justin Timberlake. As a final note on Shapiro, the strange twist is that he likely wouldn't be with the Kings had his father, Gary Shapiro, not lost an 18-month fight with leukemia.
When his 58-year-old father passed in 2002, Shapiro - who had moved home to Seattle to care for him - decided to branch out and eventually accepted a job at the University of Dayton. His experience with the Division I program led to the Kings calling. Sure enough, he was offered the Kings job on the second anniversary of his father's death.
"It turned a day that was going to be very sad into a happy one," Shapiro said.
- Sam Amick