Sunday Musings: The lowest point is still ahead
Some will point to Friday night’s loss to the Golden State Warriors as the lowest moment of the season for the Sacramento Kings. They will point to the record-setting performance of Klay Thompson, the six-game losing streak or maybe the team’s 5-14 record under Tyrone Corbin.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the lowest point for the Kings has yet to come.
Sacramento ownership and management made a mistake when they fired Michael Malone. You would have to be blind to not see that now. They overvalued their own pull within the walls of the Kings locker room. They made a decision that they believed was right for the franchise, and in doing so, they lost the players and plenty of fans.
The Kings aren’t the first to swing and miss. These things happen, but in this situation, the miscalculation is being compounded by the franchise’s lack of contrition. Where the mistake truly lies is in not admitting that an error was made.
Malone may or may not be a superstar in the coaching ranks. We don’t know yet, because his first go as a head coach ended so abruptly in Sacramento. But what we do know is that he changed the culture of a cantankerous locker room. He had the players not just toeing a company line, which we have seen under previous coaches, but actually buying in to a system.
The fact is, Malone has an ability to command an audience – to capture the room. The Kings were ready to go to battle under him each and every night. Win or lose, the team played hard. It mirrored the personality of its gritty leader.
This wasn’t supposed to be another Malone piece; we have written plenty of those since his dismissal on Dec. 14. But you need context to understand why we are where we are today.
The team hasn’t recovered. In fact, it is fracturing like we have seen time and time again with this organization. The difference is that this time, it wasn’t a coach who lost the locker room.
Sadly, we have become accustomed to this team putting it into neutral and cashing in the final 20 games or so of the season. That is what happens when you have a losing culture in the NBA.
What we haven’t seen before is a team cash in the final 58 games of a season, epecially a season that started with so much promise.
Despite the colossal tailspin, there is still time to right the ship. The playoffs are gone – we can all admit that now – but there is time to stem the tide and finish the season on a high note.
Before we can start talking about changes to the coaching staff or possible trades that will wake this team from its slumber, the first step is to come clean and admit that an error was made.
The Kings’ train is coming off the tracks and instead of rushing to the front to find a solution, the dining car is full of people unwilling to acknowledge that the team is careening toward a spot where the bridge is out.
Again, there has to come a point where it is understood that a mistake was made. Someone shot the conductor, so fess up and admit the gaff, so we can all move forward.
The players need to heal. The fans need to heal. They need to hear that this issue won’t happen again. That somewhere within the walls of the organization, a lesson was learned either by management or by ownership.
Until this happens, the assumption will be that this group is too arrogant to succeed.
We all make mistakes. It’s human nature to swing and miss. But you have to learn from your errors or you are doomed to repeat them time and time again.
Those who watch basketball know what happens next. The losses will continue to compound. The players will become more and more detached from the situation. Eventually, they will begin playing for themselves instead of for the team.
We know this because that is the definition of Kings basketball for the last decade. In fact, we can already see it beginning now.
There are 39 games remaining in the Kings’ season and the obituary is already being written. That is an eternity in professional sports. It’s enough time to build for something for next season, but that would require action.
39 games are also enough time to sour the players and the fan base to an all-time low. And it’s enough time to add a few more lines of blame to the sad eulogy of the 2014-15 Sacramento Kings.