The half of the game they aren’t playing is when they don’t have the ball—it’s called defense. This year’s Kings, without the services of Bobby Jackson and Doug Christie, are looking more like men on the downside of their careers, standing around waving at youthful opponents as they swoop past. When the young athletes come into the paint on their way to the hoop, the Kings look like tall men in cement shoes.
The Kings are also fond of standing outside the paint on offense and bombing away, which is fine when the shooters are on. No offensive rebounding necessary. But when they’re off, and rebounding is survival, the Kings are on the bottom half of the league’s statistics. Rebounding requires extreme amounts of effort, and the Kings don’t have it.
And then there’s the Grumpy Old Men act, wasting time and energy whining at the officials and blaming them for a series of close-game losses. (Hey, Miller, why didn’t you dunk it against the Suns and eliminate the chance of goaltending?)
There is also the split between the two stars of the team: Half of the leadership (and shots) is going to Chris Webber, and less than half is going to Peja Stojakovic, and that’s a problem. It’s a team game.
The die-hard fans are not giving up (us included). After all, the Kings are leading the hated Lakers. The team still fills the seats of Arco Arena, and the adoring fans soon may vote to give the Kings a new palace out in Natomas if developers get to put up subdivisions (see “The great Natomas land rush”). The billionaire Maloofs have not accepted the proposed gift. It just doesn’t come with all the bells, whistles and luxury boxes they want. (Yet, the brothers haven’t come close to paying off half the loan that is outstanding on the present Arco Arena.)
What do we get? Miles and miles of sprawl.