If you don't think Kevin (Martin) will step up and be a leader, you've sincerely underestimated just how much he wants to win. You can't make him the fall guy when you've got six or eight other guys out there who simply aren't interested in playing defense or providing energy. It might not work, but you can bet your (bottom) he'll try.
Count on that.
-- Sam, Zanesville, Ohio
Thanks for the note from Kevin's hometown.
I don't think it's a matter of underestimating how much he wants to win. I have never questioned the dedication to improving his game or to helping the Kings win. Quite the opposite. I have regularly praised his commitment, including in the blog that spotlighted his intention to become more of a leader.
But some people have the personality to assert themselves and drive teammates in the right direction and some don't. That's a fair observation, not a knock on Kevin nor an attempt to make him the fall guy. Just the way it is.
Maybe he does step into a leadership role. I never said he wouldn't. I simply said it's not in his nature, but that if he thinks he can lead, this would be a good time to prove it, for the Kings' sake.
-- Phil, Sacramento
In baseball, it's a scorekeeping thing. In basketball, it's coach-speak that has grown into common jargon: 1 for point guard, 2 for shooting guard, 3 for small forward, 4 for power forward and 5 for center.
A 2 guard, then, is a shooting guard. It is a distinction no other position gets, for whatever reason. No one says "1 guard" or "4 forward."
To use the murder of 168 people; the maiming and orphaning of hundreds more as a comparison to a basketball team is beyond insensitive; it is sick! Does (Scott) Howard-Cooper have any idea how the survivors, relatives, friends, or co-workers will feel at having those murdered compared to a basketball team's success?
How can a responsible newspaper print such an article? No matter how well written, the concept, let alone the act, is exceedingly repugnant.
--- Ron, Galt
There was never a comparison of the Oklahoma City bombing to the popular success of the Thunder. The story addressed the emotional impact of the NBA going to Oklahoma City --- how it could help change the image of the town and what the Thunder being there means to the people who lived through the nightmare. That's not my assessment either. The piece includes countless quotes from the mayor, the director of the Oklahoma City Memorial and average citizens indicating as much.
This is a huge deal to them in large part because of what happened before. They undoubtedly would have appreciated a major-league sports franchise coming under any circumstances. Under these --- the Murrah Building, the loss of life, the way it shaped the perception outsiders may have of the city --- the people of Oklahoma City more than appreciated it. They needed it.
I feel especially comfortable saying that based on the response to the story. I received several e-mails from people who live in the area, lived in the area at the time or have connections there and all were complimentary that I accurately captured the importance of the relocation of the SuperSonics/Thunder. No victim's memories were trampled. More like a city being celebrated.
--- Taahir, Sacramento
I'd disagree with you on the Gerald Wallace issue. The Kings gave him so many chances to develop and it wasn't happening --- constantly lost on defense, couldn't hit a shot in a game. The classic story of the guy who hit everything in practice and then went subzero cold in games. It didn't look like he would turn out to be this good. His athleticism is obviously missed.
Put Beno on the Hawks and obviously it's a much different story in Atlanta. Mike has become a big part of the success there. I blogged on that very topic a few weeks ago and plan to have a feature with a similar storyline when the Hawks come to Arco Arena just after the All-Star break. That's not a Beno-in-Atlanta thing, of course. It would be a problem with Beno anywhere under the same circumstances.
I thought the Artest deal was fine. The Kings had to get away from him once and for all, and an expiring contract and a couple decent prospects (Donte Greene and a first-round pick this year) was as good as they were going to do. There was no such thing as fair market value for Artest at that point. He hurt his own stock. The only option would have been to keep Artest, seen how he played this season, and shopped him again, except that it was time to move on. There was as much chance he would have done something to decrease his value as that he would have increased it with very good play.
--- Lem, Antelope
I agree with much of what you say. The talent is much better than the team has shown. That's the good news and the bad news: The Kings have some talent, but little direction, little leadership and, as you note, little consistency. I thought they would be bad (preseason prediction: 32-50), but it's shocking how fast this season was over. Players had the end-of-season look in the first weeks.
I don't believe management has concocted this plan to get the Kings to another city. If so, the blueprint is even worse than the way they've put together the roster. The Maloofs couldn't have told players to roll over like this. The guys did that all on their own. (Let's hear it for initiative!) There's no way the Maloofs or Geoff Petrie could have imagined the heap of wreckage 2008-09 has become and now they've got to live with it the rest of this season and at least all of next.