King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Dear idiots: A note to fans who leave games like Monday's classic in Sacramento early. Plus: Chris Webber's delusions of go-to-guydom.

By Salon Staff

Published May 11, 2004 7:00PM (EDT)

Excuse me, everyone. I want to talk for a second just to all the idiots who filed out of Arco Arena early Monday night. The exodus began in earnest with the Minnesota Timberwolves leading the hometown Sacramento Kings 100-87 in Game 3 with three-plus minutes remaining.

Dear people: You're a bunch of idiots.

Was it worth it? Since so many of you were leaving, you still had to sit in traffic outside, and I've sat idling in that cow pasture after Kings games, so I know you were there for a while. Still, you did get home earlier than you would have if you'd stuck around for the end of the game. Probably made it by midnight if you live in the 916.

Was something pretty good going on when you got there? Because back at Arco, you missed a pretty good ballgame, in the sense that if you weren't in Italy in the 15th century, you missed a pretty good Renaissance. You missed Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic, both awful for the first 45 minutes or so of the game, go wild. You missed your hometown Kings wresting the game from the dubious control of Fred Hoiberg and Mark Madsen and sending it to an improbable overtime.

You missed MVP Kevin Garnett turning the ball over twice in key situations by losing his footing and traveling, but in between winning the game on an incredible shot, an MVP shot, fighting through a double-team and an uncalled foul to sink a 15-footer at the 24-second buzzer. You missed Stojakovic's would-be game-winner fall harmlessly thanks to the smothering defense of Trenton Hassell -- defense that would have been called a foul if it had happened at any time in the game except with 2.7 seconds to go in overtime, but that's how it goes.

You missed the most thrilling eight minutes of basketball of the 2004 season. It was so exciting it was probably worth the staggering price you paid for those playoff tickets.

You're probably telling yourself you didn't really miss anything. Almost, but hey, the Kings lost anyway, right? They're still down in the series 2-1, just like you figured they would be when you headed for the parking lot.

Listen, idiots -- you don't mind if I use your nickname, do you? -- you don't leave a playoff game with three-plus minutes to go and the home team down by 13. Thirteen is nothing, and not just for the Kings, who can make up a 13-point deficit as quickly as anybody. Three-plus minutes is forever in the NBA.

I'll go further. Don't leave any game early, in any sport, if you care at all about what you're watching -- which I realize many of the people in the crowd at playoff games don't. You never know what you're going to miss. It's worth getting home a half hour later 100 times to see one thing that people will still be talking about in 100 years.

Californians have a reputation for early departures, but it happens everywhere. Behold the empty seats in the eighth inning of any baseball game, anywhere.

I don't get it, folks. What are you hurrying off to? If that 15 or 20 minutes or even an hour that you shave off your time away from home is so important to you, you probably should just stay put in the first place. Save your money. Once you're at the game, if you get a call that your building is on fire or the kids have all fallen down the basement stairs, go ahead. Otherwise, stick around.

You'll thank me for this advice.

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Chris Webber, delusional King [PERMALINK]

I keep feeling like I should say something about the Pacers-Heat series in the East, which Indiana leads 2-1 after Miami won at home Monday night, 94-87. OK here goes: So I'm watching the Pacers-Heat game Monday and TNT plays an interview snippet from Chris Webber.

Hey, I'm trying.

Webber is talking about the Kings' collapse in Game 2 in Minnesota Saturday, when they gave up an 11-point lead in the last four minutes by completely abandoning their offense in favor of hoisting up ill-advised long jumpers.

"We're too old, we're too much of a veteran team right now to be making those mistakes," he says. "Late in the game we've got to get the ball in my hands, we've got to get it in the post, late in the game, that's just the way that it is."

Has Chris Webber ever watched himself or his team play?

The Kings are at their absolute worst when they're trying to get the ball in Webber's hands in the post. That was true when Webber was healthy, and it's especially true now that he's lost so much quickness and power to knee surgery. Here's something I wrote two years ago, if I may quote myself:

The Kings are a team whose big star, Webber, is just never going to be one of those gimme-the-ball leaders with the game on the line. [Mike Bibby] gives them a reliable way to run the offense, which is at its most effective when it's going to, not through Webber. When he's reacting to a play that's in motion, scripted or not, Webber is nearly unstoppable. When he sets up with the ball in the high post and looks to start the play, the Kings' offense stalls.

The Kings began their 13-point comeback with 2:12 to play Monday. During that 17-4 run, Webber touched the ball in the front court precisely twice. The first time, he took a pass at the top of the key early in the first possession of the comeback, dribbled twice and handed off to Peja Stojakovic, who eventually ran a play with Bibby and scored. Webber had no effect on the outcome.

The second time, he came off a screen into the lane with Trenton Hassell guarding him on a switch, a mismatch. Brad Miller hit him with a pass and Webber dropped in a 10-foot hook to bring the Kings to within three with 19 seconds left. A perfect use of Webber.

The Kings' offense is Bibby and Stojakovic. Webber is, and always has been, a dangerous weapon as a shooter, passer and offensive rebounder, but not a guy to build an offense around. Superstar egos being what they are, I suppose we can't expect Webber to admit that, but his teammates seem to have realized it. If they can remember it, they still have a chance against a very good, but beatable, Minnesota team.

Previous column: Lakers dive for loose ball!

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