The Weekly Snitch: Kings’ season coming to close with familiar faces
By Patrick Ibarra
Kevin Martin’s return
Kevin Martin received a warm welcome in Sacramento on Monday night when the Houston Rockets came to town. While he was surprised, no one else should be. As Kings fans, it’s your duty to cheer Martin wherever he goes. He was a class act in Sacramento and played his heart out each game to try to make the Kings better. It just didn’t work.
Martin, while surprisingly one of the best scorers in the NBA, didn’t have the leadership skills to turn the program around nor the body structure to become a dominant force in the league. His consistent injuries slowed down any Sacramento momentum every season they came along, and his return from them ultimately put the improving Kings on a backtrack to mediocrity.
Still, none of it was really his fault. He’s a talent coaches dream of. He was a team player, a hustler, a hard worker and all without any form of star attitude. Martin was a star without the star power, without the entourage and late night bar brawls, without the personality of a living legend. Ultimately, as loved as he was, it wasn’t enough.
What was enough was his performance Monday. Scoring 39 points, he nearly single-handedly put the Kings away. Kings fans will miss days like that.
Martin’s return rightfully overshadowed one of the many returns for former Kings coach Rick Adelman. Adelman, now the coach of the Houston Rockets, marched into Sacramento again to take care of the hapless Kings in a 117-107 shootout. The winningest coach in the history of the Sacramento Kings’ organization has made it common practice to come to town and beat his old team, never once saying anything disparaging about the city, fans or management and organization he once was deeply rooted within.
Much like Martin, Adelman is a class act. Unlike Martin, everything Adelman touches turns to gold, as he’s a proven winner season after season. Having Martin back under his tutelage is good news for them both, despite missing the playoffs this year at 42-39. Next year all eyes could easily be on Houston as a contender. Hopefully Sacramento can squeak into the playoffs to make the story interesting.
Kings end season against Lakers
Any other year, this would be the game of the year. In some ways, it still may be. Still, none would argue that tonight’s Kings versus Lakers game won’t be like it used to be.
Any other season, this would be a barn burner, but not just with a buzzer-beater like Kobe Bryant hit in their meeting earlier this season. Any other year, this would be for pride, for bragging rights, and for an overall season of superiority.
It wouldn’t matter that the Lakers had one of the best records in the NBA and the Kings weren’t even near making the playoffs. All that would matter is the numbers between the two, what the season series between these two teams sat at. This year, the Lakers are looking at a season sweep of Sacramento.
Fans will try to get hyped up for the game, knowing it’s their last chance to see Evans do something amazing this year, and root against Bryant and a team the cowbell toting die hards look forward to rattling every chance they get. But it won’t be like before. The Lakers, win or lose, will forget the Kings and look forward to another possible NBA championship run, while the Kings will pack their bags after the game, looking forward simply to putting this season behind them.
In the end, that makes tonight’s game more sad than anything. If there was any silver lining to a another horrid season by Sacramento, though, it’d be going out with its guns blazing. Tonight is the only real opportunity to do that.