During the press conference Wednesday announcing Beno Udrih's formal re-signing with the Kings, his New York-based agents, Marc and Natasha Cornstein, revealed that this was their first trip to Sacramento. Great. Nice introduction. Looking toward downtown from Natomas, all anyone could see was an eerie silhouette of the skyline. This was at 2 p.m. I explained to the Cornsteins that, while our air is never great, it also is never this bad. Usually, you can at least see the trees. They promised to visit again during the season. One can only hope the fires are extinguished by then.
At least the Cornsteins were staying at a hotel close to Arco Arena. They were spared the further indignity of having to contend with the repair work on I-5. Have to say though, it's not as horrific as anticipated. C.C. Myers obviously knows what he's doing. Now, if only Arnold Schwarzenegger would ban fireworks and campfires within the state during the summer season ... well, never mind. Can't expect the governor to do anything that radical (and reasonable).
Then again. Why not? The bad air must be wreaking havoc on the outdoor recreational programs for area youngsters. I refuse to let my dog outside for extended breaks and am passionately encouraging my nephew's love of reading ...
Geoff Petrie's ordeal
From what I'm hearing - and, yes, he confirmed it - Geoff Petrie refused to return any phone calls inquiring about the Ron Artest availability between July 1-9, the period for players to declare for free agency and begin negotiating with teams. Petrie, who has a thing for following the rules, and never takes anything for granted, skipped town while waiting for Udrih's official signing. The Kings basketball president went to a Stevie Wonder concert in Reno on Friday, returned Saturday, then awakened at 6 a.m. Sunday to watch the Wimbledon singles final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadel.
A huge tennis fan, Petrie said he originally planned to watch some of the event live, and tape the remainder, became so transfixed that he watched the match in its entirety. Count him among those who rank the match as arguably the greatest singles event ever ...
Corey Maggette signing no surprise
After losing Baron Davis and failing to entice Elton Brand to northern California, I'm not at all surprised by the Warriors' aggressive pursuit of Corey Maggette. Among other things, Don Nelson has been an admirer since his days with the Dallas Mavericks. Had Maggette spurned the overtures, Ron Artest might have been next on the list.
As for why Petrie is so paranoid about free agency ... the Davis and Brand situations have something to do with it. Players, owners, agents can say anything - and often do - but nothing is official until the contracts are signed. Petrie was noticeably relieved during the press conference at Chris Webber's Center Court restaurant.
I am looking forward to seeing first-round draft choice Jason Thompson for the first time during Thursday's workouts. And while you shouldn't ever read too much into this, it was interesting to hear that Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia are in town for the first week of summer league workouts. Their commitment to the organization is both apparent and refreshing.