So, while starting to feel that Sacramento's prospects for keeping the Kings have improved exponentially and unexpectedly since the involvement of Silicon Valley billionaire Vivek Ranadive and his group - and the situation remains both intriguing and fluid, so no predictions are forthcoming - I wanted to share a conversation with former Bee columnist Joe Hamelin. (This was all motivated by a chat earlier in the day with Reggie Theus, a member of the original Sacramento Kings, who came back and coached the team, and more recently was hired to run the men's basketball program at Cal State Northridge.
Prompted by the chat with Reggie, and another conversation with legendary Clippers play-by-play announcer Ralph Lawler, I probed Hamelin for his recollections about October 25, 1985.
This was a humbling experience, to say the least. At the time, I was the Clippers beat writer for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, and had traveled with the team to Sacramento for the historic opener at Arco I. Somehow - and the details remain sketchy - I talked my way into riding from the hotel to the game with newly anointed NBA Commissioner David Stern. I do recall thinking that this was a pretty big "get," as we say in the business.
When I mentioned this to Hamelin, who is retired, but as engaging as ever, he just laughed, Earlier that afternoon, he related, he interviewed Stern at the hotel. In his room. While the Commissioner was .... in his skivvies. "I specifically remember David standing there in boxer shorts and white t-shirt," Hamelin said.. "And what do they call those things that hold up the boxers? Suspenders? Anyway, while you were riding to the game in the limousine, I was watching the motorcade breeze past, driving over the side of the road, and stuck in terrible traffic. I actually think I missed tipoff."
And, of course, Hamelin had to ask the question that remains impossible to answer: Are the Kings staying?