NEWARK, N.J. - Before Mikki Moore vented about his lack of involvement in the Kings win, he held court with reporters before the game while looking back at his one season in New Jersey.
Specifically, he was asked about the sequence of events that led him to sign with the Kings. The offer from Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie came after Moore was talking to Chicago and after Nets president Rod Thorn offered him a three-year, $10 million deal but demanded an answer within 30 minutes or else the offer be nullified.
"I went to Chicago early that morning, to sit down with (Bulls coach) Scott Skiles," Moore said. "He gave me his offer, then I got on the plane to go to Vegas to meet with Memphis, because they were out there playing the summer leagues. I got in my room at 6:30, I had a dinner at 7:30. I call my agent, (and he says) we got 30 minutes to make a decision. If you don’t take it, (the Nets are) taking it off the table. I told him I’ve been working a long time, (so) I have to at least see what I’m worth. And that’s how it ended."
Moore was asked about his reaction at the time.
"It hurt," he continued. "It hurt. It hurt bad, but it’s business. I’ve never been in that situation before, and I wasn’t used to it. So I sit on the phone with my mom and the rest of my family. They said have faith in myself and the Lord. The Lord has guided me this far. If they take it off the table, it’ll come from somewhere else."
The Kings' offer came right after Moore met with Memphis.
"I flew home," he said. "I had both of my daughters with me. I had a brand new old English bulldog. I’m in the backyard cooking out and (his agent Mark) Bartelstein calls and says (the Kings) are offering ($17.3 million). Will you take it? I just dropped the phone."
Moore spent some time in the Nets locker room before the Kings' win, catching up with his old teammates.
"They asked me (about his) family, regular converation," he said. "Then we sit down and we gave the eye – the eye contact like, ‘whoa, it’s rough over there (with the Kings). It’s rough over here (with the Nets).’ But we never spoke on it.
"Like I said, it’s a growing thing with our team. We’re trying to change the culture. We’re trying to play defense. We never played defense in Sac."
Moore also had words of praise for point guard Mike Bibby, who he said he expects back in January from his left thumb surgery.
"I’m excited to get him back on the floor, because he’s the same caliber of (Nets point guard and eight-time All-Star) Jason Kidd," Moore said. "And that’ll change a lot for me."
He was asked if he truly considered Bibby and Kidd equals.
"I have confidence in Mike," he said. "But they’re both top point guards in the league. J-Kidd has a different game than him, but I think they’re both the same caliber."
Ron Artest can't get anywhere near New York without being trailed by the local media, and Tuesday was no different. Before the Kings game, the small forward and Queensbridge native was engaging and intriguing in his interview with a small group.
Among the highlights...
Are you going to opt out this summer and become a free agent?
"It just depends on what my agent (Mark Stevens) wants to do, (it depends) on everything. There’s so many things that you have to take into consideration. From the (Kings) season, to the teams (that he may be able to sign with). It’s definitely ultimately my choice, but you have to take advice.
"I’m not going to worry about somewhere else when I like to play this leadership role (with the Kings). Why give up the leadership role? I feel good with the team, playing the lead role and the team role."
On regretting his 2005 trade demand from Indiana and the maturing process that's taught him the value of patience...
"It shows a weak character if you always try to go for the easy way out when things are not going your way and you just say, ‘Hey I want out.’ That’s the easy way out. I like doing things the hard way. You appreciate it more. Like we’re losing right now, we've got our team discombobulated (with injuries) and everything. But when we win, it makes it that much better, rather than saying I want out.
"We had a horrible season last year. Anybody can say, ‘Yeah I want to be traded. Please let me be out.’...I’m going to play where I’m at. I learned that the hard way. I want to be a competitor, compete against the best. To do that, you have to start somewhere."
Is that how you think all the time now, or is that mindset still tested often?
"All the time. It does (test you), definitely. Sometimes it slips your mind when your emotions are running high, and you're in the mix of the season. Sometimes you react and you have to step back and think. It does catch you."
On his earlier years...
"I was just so young and I had a big ego. Rather than just try to fit in with a team, I tried to take over. I tried to be something that I wasn’t.
Now I’d rather just fit in and do what I’ve got to do and play my part, whatever part that is, and just fit in, rather than just try to be on top of everything."
- Sam Amick