Taking one in as a fan.

As this all consuming Kings season comes to a close, I was given some advice from a fellow blogger, he told me – James, make sure you go to a game as a fan before the season is over.  I thought about it and I committed to at least bringing my two young sons to one more game, as Kings fans, before both the season and possibly even the Sacramento Kings as my home town team came to an end.  Tonight wasn’t that night, but earlier today, I received a call from a fellow fan who had two extra seats for Monday night’s Kings/Warriors clash at Power Balance Pavilion.  So we got a babysitter, and my wife and I took in a game from the stands like we have more than a hundred times in our eleven year marriage.

Besides a night out with the wife, this photo I took of a fan in the stands, was the highlight of my evening.

Now if this picture doesn’t make you feel like a Kings fan then you need either a history lesson or a slap in the face.  Billy Owens is the man who possibly did less with more than any player to ever play for the Sacramento Kings.  Drafted by the Kings with the third overall pick in the 1991 NBA draft, Owens shunned the team, holding out through training camp and into the regular season.  On November 1st, more than four months after the draft, an unsigned Owens was traded to the Golden State Warriors for Mitch Richmond, Les Jepson and a future second round pick.

Mitch Richmond went on to have an unbelievable career, providing Kings fans with something to cheer about for seven wonderful seasons, before yielding another All-Star named Chris Webber via trade.

As for Billy Owens?  He never became the missing link to compliment Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway and he was dealt to the Miami Heat three years later for Rony Seikaly.

So why does this jersey make a Kings fan laugh?  That’s easy.  Billy Owens was supposed to be Chris Webber before there was a Chris Webber.  Kings fans remember the excitement of getting the third overall pick and they remember the excitement of drafting Billy Owens.  We also remember the disappointment and embarrassment that this 22-year-old kid out of Syracuse made us feel, because he didn’t want to play for our Kings.

Kings fans also remember that on February 22, 1996, almost five years after Owens was drafted by the Kings, Sacramento general manager Geoff Petrie, with his team mired in an eight game losing streak, did the unthinkable.  Petrie traded Walt Williams and Tyrone Corbin to the Miami Heat for Kevin Gamble and … yes, you guessed it, Billy Owens, bringing all things Billy Owens full circle.

Sitting in the stands, I was reminded by a pealing, faded number 30 jersey, that I have a catalog of useless Kings memories stored in my head, that regardless of where the team goes, will always be there.  I will still take in a game with my sons and hopefully they will get to meet some of my new friends that I have spent the last seven months getting to know.  I would love to see one of my sons smile a decade from now when they see a faded, pealing Jason Thompson or DeMarcus Cousins jersey while they take in a game with their old dad and talk to me about that season that I got to spend with the Sacramento Kings.

Thank you for the advice, Mark.  Thank you for the ticket, Tony, and if this is the last season the Sacramento Kings play here in my home town – thanks for the memories, even you Billy O.


James Ham

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