Game Notes: Kings at Pistons

January 4, 2009

slamonline.com

slamonline.com

*There’s nothing better than watching A.I. start the new year in a Pistons uniclick on the pic to check out my game notes at slamonline.com!

by Eric J. Woodyard

The Kings can take credit for being the first to do many things. Many of those are ‘good’ firsts (As a King, Tiny Arhibald was the first to lead the League in scoring and assists), while some became a bit taboo (Game 4, 2002 Western Conference Finals).

Let’s look back at some of the Kings’ more recent firsts:

• Hosting King James’s legendary first official NBA game Oct. 31, 2003. James dropped 25 buckets, nine dimes, six boards, and four thefts but the Kings still won 106-92. You could say they were the original Witnesses.
• Competing against A.I. in his first game outside of a Sixers uni. Ivy went off for a double-double with 22 points and 10 assists in a losing effort on a snowy day on Dec. 23, 2006.
• Drafting a skinny dude in the 1998 NBA Draft who wore number 55 from the University of Florida who reminded basketball purists of the Pistol. He went by the name of Jason “White Chocolate” Williams. Enough said.
• Blessing Allen Iverson with his first 30-point performance as a Piston back on Nov. 11, and, after last night’s 98-92 loss in Motown, they can add becoming the first team to lose to the Detroit Pistons in 2009 to their resume.

Their most recent loss to Detroit doesn’t hold much weight, but it’s still something for which they can be remembered. You take a mention in the record books whenever you can when you’re the Kings.

Pregame

I stepped into the Kings’ locker room to find it unusually cluttered, much more than you’d find with most visiting teams. They had cameramen who projected footage of the previous game against the Pistons. This happened to be A.I.’s first 30-point Piston night.

While most of the players participated in the shoot around, Mikki Moore, Shelden Williams, Kevin Martin and Quincy Douby were chilling and getting prepared.

As Mikki got tickets ready for some of his local friends, I sat down with the former Piston for a short interview about his time in the red, white, and blue.

SLAM: How does it feel to be back in Detroit?
Mikki Moore: It feels good. I still have family and friends here so it’s always a pleasure to get to come back and see them.

SLAM: I saw you were getting tickets ready. Do you get a lot of people requesting seats to see you play when you are in town?
MM: Yeah, one of my friends, he’s a counselor so he brings a lot of kids out so I get a couple of tickets for him here and there. I got family and friends here so you always have an addition to the family when you come in town—you’ve got that distant cousin (laughs). I don’t get big number, but I get a few tickets.

SLAM: That’s a great way to start off the New Year by giving back to your family and friends. What was your New Year’s resolution?
MM: To win more games (laughs). No, but I try to be a better person on and off the court and to try to set a better example for younger people.

SLAM: How did you celebrate your New Year’s Day?
MM: I actually had my family come to Sacramento, and we had practice earlier that day. After that, we went to Ruth’s Chris (Steak House) and ate as a family. Then, I just relaxed.

SLAM: Do you try to see the people who you got to know while playing here?
MM: Yeah, I run into some security guards that I’ve known back then, and I just talked to Doc. He’s been the doctor here for a while. The ball boys, they’re a little older now, but most of them are the same ball boys, and just people that work at the arena. I still see them coming around, and it feels good to see them. Some of the people have probably moved on or got a better job because organizations change a lot.

After talking with Mikki, I noticed Kevin Martin getting ready to take part in the shoot around. He sat next to his purple and black Air Jordan XXIII’s, rocking the bald fade (a la Lil Boosie/T.I.).

“Where’s my sleeves?” Martin asked the trainer.

“What’s up man, can I talk to you for a second?” I said.

“Yeah, but you better hurry up, I’m finna go out on the floor.” Martin added.

Before I could begin, Quincy Douby interjected.

“What kind of shoes are those, man?” The Brooklynite asked me.

“These are the new LeBron’s,” I said.

“I didn’t know what they were. They nice, though,” Douby said.

“Thanks man.”

As Martin put on his black leg sleeves, which looked more like long church socks, I shot a few questions at him as we moved from the locker room, continued through the tunnel, and finished at the court.

SLAM: Obviously, last year you suffered from injuries with your left ankle, how does it feel to start 2009 fresh? What are your goals?
Kevin Martin: To just finish up this year strong and lead this team in the right direction. Then get back to the hard work in the summer and do it again (laughs).

SLAM: I was just talking to Mikki about how he celebrated his New Year’s Day, how did you celebrate yours?
KM: I just chilled with some friends, just went out to eat and went back to my loft. I couldn’t really do too much because we had an early flight to come all the way up here.

SLAM: It’s pretty cold up here, how you feel about the weather when you got here?
KM: I’m used to it, that weather’s nothing to me. I’m from Ohio. I don’t enjoy it, but I can get through it.

SLAM: How are you feeling tonight, what are you looking to do? Are you in attack mode or what?
KM: It’s just a regular night (laughs). You see what the defense gives you, and you go from there.

SLAM: You’re a new Jordan Brand guy, I see your shoes are fresh tonight. How has it been working with him?
KM: He’s a competitive guy, and it takes a special thing to be on that team so we rep it as best as we can.

SLAM: What was the best pair of sneakers that you rocked in 2008?
KM: The Space Jam Jordan’s. I had them in white and black.

SLAM: With A.I. here, do you see any difference in the intensity of the arena?
KM: This is my first time here so we’ll see how it is with the arrival of Allen Iverson, but they’re 19-11 so these fans are pumped.

After speaking to KMart, I moved to the dining area and picked up a soda. After I poured my Orange Fanta, I took a seat and when I looked up, after writing a few notes, I was surprised I was sitting next to Greg “Special K” Kelser, the Pistons’ basketball analyst.

Kelser was beast in his prime and not only did he win a championship with the Magic Man in 1979 at Michigan State University, he was also played a few seasons in the League after the Pistons drafted him in 1979. It was an honor to sit beside such a legend. Our small talk turned into me shooting a few questions by him about his career as he chomped on a mini steak and a salad with the juiciest red tomato I’ve ever seen.

SLAM: How long have you been officially involved with the Pistons as a broadcaster?
Greg Kelser: This is my 21st year with the team as a broadcaster. I did radio initially, and the last 15 seasons I’ve done television.

SLAM: What was your major at MSU?
GK: I majored in criminal justice. But I took great communications courses because I enjoyed it—not necessarily because I anticipated working in the field when I finished my NBA career. I think having those experiences and those opportunities in the classroom at MSU certainly paid off.

SLAM: I’m sure you’ve talked about Magic Johnson a whole lot, but how was it playing with him? That’s a big thing because not many people can say that they played with such a legend early in his career.
GK: Great! Because we won. Number one, we were winners and, number two, he made the game so much fun—even practices were fun, and very few guys relished practice. He was a great teammate and probably one of the best I’ve ever had. I’m just real fortunate his career and mine own intersected.

SLAM: What’s your most memorable moment playing with Magic?
GK: Winning a championship because that was the culmination of a lot of hard work and effort that went into the few years that we played together. When we first became teammates, we talked about winning everything and being a great team, one people would remember for a long time and, thankfully, that happened. I’m sure a lot of teammates do that—they talk about and dream about winning, but it doesn’t always happen. The fact we were able to stick together and stay focused and directed on that goal along with our teammates—because it wasn’t just he and I, that’s for sure—is something that we’re very proud of.

SLAM: Are his passes really as hard as people say? Did he ever trick you out as well?
GK: Once you grow accustomed to playing with him, you’re always expecting the ball when you don’t get it. So whenever it’s coming, you’re anticipating that it’s coming. A lot of the time the surprise is when the pass doesn’t get through. Anytime you’re playing with a great passer as a receiver, you’re always ready for the basketball, and I, as his receiver, was always looking for it.

After wrapping it up with Special K, I stepped back onto the court to find my seat amongst a rocking Palace! With a sellout of 22,076 people screaming their lungs out, the Pistons went to Curtis Stuckeywork.

It was clear from the fire burst at the top of the backboard (which makes me jump every time, by the way) that the Pistons were fired up for the New Year.

No Rip. No Sheed. No Problem. Rod-ney SSSSSSS-Stuckey (as John Mason likes to call him) went off for 38 points while the Answer dropped 23, including the game-clinching baseline J with 15 seconds left in the game.

The Pistons are finally beginning to roll, as they’ve won six straight games. It seems like Rip and Sheed can take their time getting back into action.

After the game, Iverson entered the press conference with a noticeable glee and offered his New Year’s resolution.

“To win a championship!” Iverson says.

Mission Impossible right?

With A.I. and Stuckey giving opposing guards the business, you can never count out the Bad Boys of the Motor City.

Don’t be mad, I’m only being real!

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