Kings’ death spasms

Postmortem: The Kings are dead; long live the summer.

Was it wrong for Bites to feel a mild sense of relief after the Sacramento Kings’ heartbreaking loss to the Lakers in Game 7? It was a great season, and Bites was pulling for our boys as strongly as anyone, but gawd, on how many gorgeous spring evenings can the NBA force us to sit in front of the television anyway?

At least the Lakers seem to be making short work of the finals and releasing the rest of the hoops fans back into the wilds of summer. But not so with the Kings’ usual cheerleaders, and even the unexpected ones, who gave the Kings death spasms that just seemed to go on and on.

Regular readers of this column know that Bites was a fan of Ralph Nader’s candidacy for the presidency two years ago, but what in the hell was he doing squandering the last of his tattered credibility on basketball commentary?

In case you missed it, Nader grabbed headlines across the country by asking NBA commissioner David Stern to launch an investigation of the officiating in Game 6 of the Kings-Lakers series, saying “a review that satisfies the fans’ sense of fairness and deters future recurrences would be a salutary contribution to the public trust that the NBA badly needs.”

And there certainly were lots of bad calls in that game, but that’s just life. This call for an investigation necessarily supports the loony NBA-NBC-Lakers-referee conspiracy theories that Nader tried not to embrace too strongly, but which are about the only things there would be to “investigate.”

Puh-leeze! This was perhaps the most exciting playoff series in NBA history, one that the Kings could have won if not for bad shooting when the pressure was on, but instead we need to whine about what could have been?

Does Nader miss the spotlight that much? The world is filled with corporations that are screwing us over far more painfully than the NBA. Or perhaps Nader took this “Phil Jackson for President” talk seriously and is angling to trade places and take Jackson’s spot as coach. Stranger things have happened.

Sowing soreness: Of course, the Sacramento Bee also got into the act a few days later with its inaccurately provocative cover teaser “Lakers coach Phil Jackson accuses Kings fans of being sore losers,” right next to a finger-wagging picture of Jackson.

The Bee has certainly been one of the team’s biggest boosters, sometimes at the price of its own journalistic credibility, but how far are these guys planning to go to rile up the Kings faithful? Because peeking inside the paper revealed something shy of a “neener, neener” by Jackson.

Jackson’s actual comment, according to a prominently displayed column by Ailene Voisin titled “Jackson says he’s sorry—for the Kings,” was “I do feel sorry for Sacramento. It’s tough to be good losers.”

Not that Voisin would know. OK, enough, season’s over, moving on …

Pedal power: As predicted in this space a few weeks ago, the Bicycle Civil Liberties Union—which organizes the Critical Mass bike rides/protests the first Friday of every month in Sacramento—really is making a federal case of mistreatment by the Sacramento Police Department.

With a pair of Sac PD bike cops and five federal officers warily looking on, BCLU head Jason Meggs and attorney Larry Hildes of the National Lawyers Guild announced details of their civil rights lawsuit against the city and cops who have harassed Critical Mass participants with nuisance tickets and heavy-handed tactics.

Meggs—who wore a hipster-version of Abe Lincoln’s full-throated beard, along with a black suit and Loony Tunes tie—said they are seeking $11 million and a change in city policies that would expressly allow the Critical Mass protests to take place.

City officials are dismissive of the suit’s chances, but during the Critical Mass event a few days later, they were more respectful of the riders than they’ve been in a while. Maybe they were surprised that this group, with its anarchist tendencies, actually went legalistic on them.

That’s all, folks.