A love letter

I love you. I openly admit it.  You have been such a huge part of my life, I can’t imagine my world without you. And now, just as quickly as you came into my life, you’re gone. Arco Arena is no more.

I remember my first game at what was affectionately known as “The Old Barn.”  December 29, 1992. My cousin and his then girlfriend took me on the way to San Jose where I spent the weekend with my aunt and uncle. Over 20 years have past since that day, and the memory of a 14 year old boy has now become a bit hazy. But I remember loving it. I loved every second I was there.

I always say Sacramento is a city unlike any other. And I am proud to be from here. Not like Phil who went to Los Angeles for college. Ick.  And I am proud of Arco Arena (I feel bad because technically it’s Sleep Train Arena, but I’m not calling it that).  Wooden floors, seats that don’t match and were falling apart. Leaky roof. All of it.

And I was there. I remember going to a game in college all by myself and spending waaay to much just to sit 4 rows behind Kevin Garnett.

When the Kings won game 3 against Utah in the playoffs in 1999, I was there.  My friend Ryan drove up from San Luis Obispo (about 4-5 hours) just for the game. Along with our friends Turner and another Ryan, we screamed as the Kings won. The game was on TNT, and we thought it was TBS.  We took a sign letting the world know that we thought Jazz forward “Thurl Bailey Sucks.” Because the letters matched and we were convinced that would get us on TV.  Oops.  But it didn’t matter because we were there.  I was there for game 4 too, but John Stockton ruined that one.

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Hi five line

Last season, I squeezed into a middle school to join the high five line to get onto the court!  Also, I am squeezed into a medium t-shit.  On top of my jersey, and undershirt.  And t-shirt that was the give away that night.  Soo it was snug.  If you look at my profile picture on wordpress, I met my dream girl, Harley Quinn at Arco one night.

I saw Peja Stojakovic tie a game that was TECHNICALLY after the buzzer.  But hey it counted.  Check out Olden Polynice in the background.  A former King who had no problem letting us know what he thought of the constant “O.P. SUCKS!!  O.P. SUCKS” chants that we berated him with the entire game.

IMG_3071My buddy Bill and I still talk about the first game Jon Barry played back in Arco after being traded to the Pistons. He got a standing ovation and patted his heart as he entered the game.  We were there. Our other favorite moment was the night we were trying to get standing room only tickets and a cop walks up to us and asks if we are looking for tickets. Uh… Not from a cop!!  But he was simply letting us know the box office had tickets available. But it’s still a great story to us.

I saw Chris Webber get his jersey retired. Phil and I were there for Opening Night 2013 after the team was blocked from being sold to Seattle.

Phil, Eric and Bill

Phil, Eric and Bill Opening Night 2013

I got to sit in half a dozen luxury boxes and even got to shoot a half court shot to win a truck one night.  I hit the rim and until the very end, I thought I’d made it.  After you miss, they let you shoot a three point shot for $300 towards that new truck. I made the shot (because, please. I’m awesome), but I liked my car, so that was $300 wasted.

The view from an Arco luxury box

The view from an Arco luxury box

I have pins and t-shirts from at least 10 opening nights. I saw Pearl Jam, Toby Keith, and Jim Rome inside those walls.  My oldest daughter saw her first game at Arco. And both my daughters saw two Disney on Ice shows.

Saturday night was an amazing way to close the building.  So many players I cheered for walked through the doors one final time. And to top it off, a huge win. It was perfect. I couldn’t have picked a better way to say goodbye. For all the wins, for all the losses. For the ones I was there for and the ones I wasn’t. The joys and the heartbreak, there is no place like Arco Arena. IMG_4026

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You don’t think the players care about moving out the worst arena in the NBA?  In this town they do.  Because it’s Sacramento.  We are different.  If you’re not from here, you wouldn’t understand.

The Golden 1 Center will open later this year. And it may have wi-fi, seats that work, toilets that flush, and a locker room that’s actually big enough for a basketball team, but it’s just a building. It’s not home.

Arco is where we were Playing to Win. It’s where HERE WE STAY was born. And PROUD began.  It may be a sh*thole, but it was our sh*thole. I will never forget you. And I love you.  IMG_4031

All-Star Saturday Night

Every year, the NBA All-Star weekend falls around Valentines Day.  Every year, I throw a party for all my friends for the Saturday night festivities.  It’s great.  Here in California, the events start at 5pm.  Everyone comes over, we do a potluck, the children come and play.  Then, at the end of the night, everyone can get their little ones back home to bed at a reasonable hour and everyone leaves happy and full of food and booze.  Until this year.  Thanks a lot NBA.

Falling ON Valentines Day, we decided to skip the party this year.  Knowing that most of our friends don’t celebrate the day with big extravagant activities wasn’t the point.  We just figured that even though we celebrated two weeks before, most people probably didn’t.  So we spent our Valentines Day grocery shopping, buying new shoes for our daughter (only one though!  The other didn’t need them this time, thank goodness!!) and ordering a pizza.  Hey, I told you, we celebrated two weeks before!!  Screw going out on Valentines Day.  Crap is too expensive and crowded that day.

So anyway, I had to record the NBA stuff and watch it after everyone went to bed.  After all these years of watching while sort of paying attention while eating and drinking, I hadn’t realized how incredibly boring the night is when you have to watch it alone and sober (ish).  Now, I knew the skills challenge was ridiculous.  It’s basically the best point guards who aren’t good enough for the all-star game doing a warm up drill.  It’s crazy boring.  Although, I was pulling for Isaiah Thomas to win the thing.  Former King and all that.

There was this competition called the Shooting Stars contest.  Each team gets an NBA player, a WNBA player and a legend.  They used to have each team be from the same city.  Now its all just completely random.  And it bugs me.  There was a team with an NBA player from Atlanta, and another team had a legend from Atlanta.  PUT THEM ON THE SAME DAMN TEAM!  Yes, I know this is the least of the issues.  Little things bother me.  But seriously, how is it enjoyable to watch players shoot half court shots, unsuccessfully, for 90 seconds?

The 3 point shootout was not bad.  Steph Curry was brilliant.  But ruined by the terrible commentary.  Which you never notice when you have a party with music in the background.  And Zach Lavine was pretty great in the dunk contest.  The dunks were pretty similar, but they were all really impressive.  I did enjoy the Space Jam jersey.  A nice added touch.

I couldn’t wait for the evening to be over.  Never again will an All-Star Saturday night go by partyless!  Especially since the next morning at our monthly football game, my buddy Chris couldn’t stop bitching about how he didn’t get invited.  We didn’t have the party!  Damn, YOU could have people over too you know!

Playing to Win

I just wanted to show this off because I am super excited.  Phil and I have talked a few times about the battle to keep our beloved Sacramento Kings.  It was a long fight with Anaheim, then Seattle and a few teams in between.  We won, and this year there will be two documentaries made about our town and our team.  One is an ESPN 30 for 30, and the other is a local documentary made by the group who went on the cross country trip regaling people in NBA cities with our plight.  This one is coming out first, this spring.  The trailer was released today.  Here it is.  It has been a long two years, and a lot of memories are brought up:

http://www.playingtowindoc.com/

Forever Purple

Here in California’s capital city, tomorrow is a VERY important day.  There is so much going on!  First of all, it’s Tuesday which means my oldest daughter goes to pre-school (YAY!!) so I get a couple hours with just the baby.  So it’s quieter around here.  The sanity level goes up.  But tomorrow night is where the real action heats up.

Downtown, it’s the weekly city council meeting.  Around these parts, for the past year city council meetings have been a big deal.  Ever since that dickbag Chris Hansen and Seattle tried to steal our beloved Sacramento Kings, the council has had vote after vote on Kings related matters.  Mostly about the new arena.  Tomorrow is the final vote!  The team has already bought the mall that the new arena will sit on.  As soon as the vote passes, the team president, Chris Granger has said they are going to go downtown and turn off the power.  Part of me is sad because when that mall was full, it was a great open air place to shop.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t been more than half full of stores in….1o years?  They are expecting so many people downtown they are putting up TVs outside of City Hall for those who cannot get in and want to watch outside.  I was one of these people who wanted to watch outside.  I wanted to go with Phil.  But he wanted to go bowling instead.  What a jerk, right?

Tomorrow is also important because it’s the NBA draft lottery!  The Kings have the 7th spot right now with virtually no chance of getting into the top 3.  They have picked 7th every year they’ve been in Sacramento.  Okay maybe it just seems that way.  But they have selected Lionel Simmons, Bobby Hurley, Jason Williams, they traded down from 7 to draft Jimmer Fredette (wow that trade is still horrible), Ben McLemore, and the best 7th pick in the history of sports, Walt Williams.  See?  They are there a lot.  Now, there really isn’t much suspense tomorrow with the lottery.  The Los Angeles Lakers WILL get the #1 pick.  I am one of the conspiracy theorists who believe the lottery is fixed.  I will be shocked if the Lakers don’t get the first pick.  And equally shocked if the Kings do.

The other cool thing that the Kings are doing for the draft is what they are calling “Draft 3.0.”    I think it is so great that the front office is trying to use any and all people they can to get all the information on every possible player in college to make the right pick.  There are probably people who think that if general manager is reaching out to fans, maybe they need a new general manager.  I am not one of those people.  If there is a different side, I say there is no reason not to look at it.  It is wonderful.

I admit, I am way too stupid to put my own vote in on the page.  I started getting into the major stats just a few years ago with baseball.  I am still learning there.  I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to basketball.  All I know is, I really don’t want the Kings to draft yet ANOTHER point guard.  Yes, I’m sure Marcus Smart is amazing.  Dante Exum seems really really good.  But come on.  Something other than another damn point guard!!

Another Tournament Update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted (sorry ’bout that), so I thought I would pick up the slack with a quick update on the results of Eric and mine’s tournament brackets. Like most of the country, they’re trashed. Utterly trashed. Things got off to a pretty rough start for me early on, but my final four was remaining intact. At least that was until Wisconsin beat Arizona, and Kentucky and UConn both forget what seed they were supposed to playing at. All that’s left for me now is Florida, who I picked to win the whole thing.

Not a winning bracket.

Not a winning bracket.

It’s not all doom and gloom for me, however, I am beating Eric…which probably explains why he hasn’t provided a tourney update since the end of the round of  64. And given the fact that all his final four picks, other than the Gators, have gone belly up, too, I’m pretty much assured a victory over him. Last year I won the NCAA tournament pool outright. Unfortunately, that won’t happen this year, but at least I’ll beat Eric. Again.  Silver linings people. Silver linings. (#dominate)

I hope fortune has treated your brackets better than ours.

Tournament Update

The first two days were great for me! In my pool I’m in first place. I went 26-6 and still have 15 of my 16 teams that I picked to make the Sweet 16. The only one I missed was Duke. And I’m totally fine with that. Because as we all know:

F**k Duke.

Today I am 1-0, so it’s going well too! Phil is doing alright. But he’s probably not up yet, and if he is he is nursing a hangover at a blackjack table so he doesn’t care either way.

He is missing tonights poker game at my place though. New chips coming out tonight! I’ve got a good feeling tonight is my night!

Everything’s coming up Eric!!

March Madness

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!  I’m so excited!  The tournament starts today!  Happy tournament day to all of you who have the day off and get to watch the games!  And also to those of you stuck at work who will be sneaking a peak at your bracket in between your job.  Well I couldn’t figure out a way to put my bracket online so I’m simply going to post the Final Four for Phil and me.

Phil and I are doing a bracket challenge on ESPN with 10 of our friends.  I never win.  I always pick too many upsets.  I try to be too clever.  It never works out.  I tried to reign it in a bit, but I still went too far.  So I’m sure I’m already out of the pool and the games are still about 2 hours away.

So without further ado:

Phil’s final four: Florida, Arizona, Michigan State and Louisville.  Ohhh, lookie lookie.  Look who listened to EVERY SINGLE PERSON on ESPN and picked the same three that every one of them did, and #1 Arizona.  Way to go out on a limb Phil.  Good job.  You know not all of those will make it.  If they do, feel free to mock me.  But it’s not going to happen.

Now, I will gladly toot my own horn.  I picked the final four correctly once.  Ah, 2002 was a glorious year.  Maryland won the whole damn thing.  I will say this though.  That was in a stretch where I picked Maryland to win like three straight titles.  Was it luck in 2002, or did my skill finally come together?  I choose the latter.  Of course, as I write this, I realize my peak was 12 years ago.  How sad.

My final four is Florida, Virginia, Louisville, and Creighton.  I love having an oddball school in the final four.  I picked Davidson the year the went to the elite eight.  Butler a couple years ago.  So Creighton will either make it, or lose their first game.  So that’s exciting.

Unfortunately, we have the same championship game and champion.  Florida over Louisville.  So I have to have a lead in our bracket going into that game.

Good luck to all of you!  Terrible luck to Phil!

And of course.. LET’S GO TAR HEELS!