Kings fan Kayla Hicks addresses hot topics among fans online in the second installment of her Kings.com blog. Plus, she reflects on her recent trip to support the team on the road.
Kings Hot Topic: Fan Support
I’ve been a Kings diehard for more than half my life, and this fanbase is truly one of a kind.
Even though we’ve experienced a lot of highs and lows, we keep coming out to support our favorite team. After a slow start to the season, fans have reason to be frustrated, but the ardent supporters who are coming out to Sleep Train Arena remain in high spirits.
As doors open, they’re excited to take their children to their first NBA game or take in a fun night out with friends. The fans are always loud – cheers and loud ovations erupting from the crowd can be heard from beyond the confines of the arena bowl and become infectious.
There’s also no denying having constant hometown support helps players’ on-court performance. Following a recent home victory, Chuck Hayes spoke about the effect of the boisterous crowd.
“(We received) a lot of momentum and adrenaline running from the fans,” said No. 42. “They’re great.”
I hope to see many of you at upcoming home games, cheering the team to victory!
Kings Hot Topic: Rotation
The most common discussion stemming from Kings fans on social media channels regard Head Coach Keith Smart’s in-game rotations. As with any sport, it’s common to hear players and coaches talk about staying ready, because you never know when your name will be called. If one of the starters suffers an injury – as has been the case with Tyreke Evans, who’s missed six of the last 10 games with a sore left knee – players need to be prepared to fill the void.
Above all, it’s essential for teammates to be able to depend on one another to come in and be productive at all times. I think we, as fans, generally want and expect the main stars to step up when the team is going through a tough stretch. However, the Kings bench has made the biggest splash while Evans has been out.
In Sacramento’s win in Portland on Dec. 8, Travis Outlaw notched 11 points and four rebounds in 17 minutes of action. He made such a big impact, it seemed as if his name was being mentioned on the broadcast on nearly every play.
Smart has said he’ll utilize players who best suit the matchups on the floor, and with Evans sidelined, the Kings leader has most frequently turned to veteran Francisco Garcia. Against Dallas on Dec. 10, “Cisco” connected on a career-high seven three-pointers and notched a season-high 25 points.
Four nights later, Smart called upon Isaiah Thomas late in the third quarter against the Thunder. No. 22 made the most of his nearly 16 minutes of playing time, bringing the Kings back by scoring a season-high 26 points.
“My job is to come in and just play no matter what,” he said after the game. “If we are down 30 or up 30, just come in and be me.”
It’s no secret Jimmer Fredette brought his legion of newfound Kings fans when he arrived in Sacramento, who understandably want to see their favorite player succeed. Fredette hasn’t disappointed – he’s been playing with more confidence this season and it shows. When No. 7 entered Monday’s game against the Suns he scored five points within a minute and went on to record a career high 22 points in as many minutes. He followed up his stellar performance by notching 15 points in just under 15 minutes in Wednesday’s win over Golden State.
As Sacramento looks to capitalize on its thrilling win, it’s encouraging to see so many players make a positive impact regardless of playing time.
My Road Trip
Living only a few miles away from Sleep Train Arena, I attend as many games as I can during the NBA season. But until this month, I’d actually only been to one away game.
On January 25, 2006, I watched the Kings take on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. I wasn’t sure how I’d be treated in an opposing team’s venue while proudly displaying Kings gear, but I ended up having a great time. To top it off, in what turned out to be a thrilling game, the Kings defeated the Knicks 106-102 in overtime.
Since then, I’d always had this crazy notion that someday, I’d attend a Kings game in every NBA arena. On Dec. 1, I took a six-hour road trip with my friend, Marques, to see Sacramento take on the L.A. Clippers. We met up with 30 fellow Kings fans from all over California to have a truly unique group experience at Staples Center.
As part of a prior arrangement, upon our arrival, we were escorted below the concourse to await the Kings in the visitor’s tunnel. We were able to high-five our players as they took the court, which was an unforgettable experience.
Similarly to my time at MSG, I wasn’t sure how I’d be received in an opposing area – much less as a Kings fan visiting a division rival. I was pleasantly surprised to be treated with kindness from everyone I met, from employees to fans, and didn’t hear a single taunt during my time in L.A.
Still, as much as I look forward to attending a future Kings road game, nothing can compare to the magical atmosphere at Sleep Train Arena. After going on the trip, I also hope everyone will treat fellow fans with kindness and respect, especially during the holiday season.
Go Kings, and Beat L.A.!