With another year under our belt here at Cowbell Kingdom, it is time to reflect back at some of our favorite moments from an incredible year. Between writing, videos, podcasting and photography, we have had plenty of moments that stick out. Here is a taste of the best from 2013.
The best from Jonathan Santiago
It’s something he’s always had, his father says. To have that high level of self-belief at his size, his height? James Thomas believes his son’s gift of resolve must be heaven sent.
“I think at his level, where he’s one of the smaller guys, this has to be something that you were born with,” the elder Thomas told Cowbell Kingdom proudly hours before his son took the stage at the Rising Stars Challenge yesterday evening. “A gift from God that just happens to be (that) they chose you Isaiah to take the torch and run with it.”
You are champions today. But just like every team that wins a championship, questions will arise for next year’s title defense. Will complacency sink in? Can they do it again? Everyone is now watching what Sacramento does next. Whether or not you can truly validate your victory.
There are still cynics and pessimists out there questioning the city’s win. ”In the long run, Seattle would have been a better business move for the NBA,” they say. ”Sacramento and small markets will continue to be a drain on the league” they quip. Though their voices are muted today, that doesn’t mean they won’t come back to gloat if Sacramento doesn’t succeed.
Last night’s defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans was a prime example of the latter. In a winnable game, the Kings allowed the Pelicans to shoot better than 54.5 percent from the field and score 36 points in the game’s final period en route to a 13-point victory.
That didn’t sit well with their head coach, who has just about had it with his team’s lack of focus on the floor.
“How many times do you have to hit rock bottom?” Malone said after the loss. “I mean, look at our record. We’ve hit rock bottom four or five times now. So maybe some of these guys are so used to losing, they’re accustomed to it.
“I’m not,” he continued. “I’m not used to losing. I’m used to being in the playoffs and being a competitive team that takes pride in its defense. Right now, we don’t have a lot of guys that do that. So, I’m not sure what their rock bottom is, but I hit my rock bottom one week into the season.”
The best from James Ham
Billionaires asking for a public subsidy while flaunting their wealth? The measures unsurprisingly failed in epic fashion.
On its face, it sounds like a gaff, which is exactly how it has been spun. But what most folks don’t know is that immediately following the collapse of Q & R, the entire Maloof family hopped a plane for New York and asked Stern for permission to relocate the team immediately.
That was 2006.
The point is, building a winner is rarely a single-transaction deal. It is a series of events over the course of years, that culminate in a fragile serendipitous moment.
For most teams, it takes a whole lot of losing to become something more. Losses create draft picks and draft picks become assets and assets either grow into rotational players or are moved for different assets. It is the cycle of life for all professional sports, but more specifically basketball.
Winning takes time – time to find and develop talent; time to cultivate a winning personality.
When Leonard came through Sacramento for his pre-draft workout two years ago, many hoped the Kings would pick him with the seventh pick in the 2011 Draft. There was a glaring need for a defensive stopper who wouldn’t require the ball in his hands. He was on the Kings shortlist of players and word is that his advisers thought he would end up in Sacramento.
Instead, the Kings made a draft day deal to acquire John Salmons and then selected Jimmer Fredette with the 10th overall pick. Hindsight is 20/20. Leonard went on to fame guarding the greatest player in the game today for seven straight contests in this year’s NBA Finals.
Meanwhile, Jimmer has struggled to transition to the NBA and Salmons is a square peg that the Kings keep hitting with a hammer, hoping he will fit in a round hole.
The best of the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast
The best of Cowbell Kingdom TV
The best from our photographers
Special thanks to Steven Chea, Tobin Halsey, Ron Nabity, Morgan Ragan and Kimani David for the photo and video work this year.