Murray Isn’t Motivated to Hear a Real Pep Talk
I stopped by Staples Center on Tuesday night to tell Coach Andy Murray I’m with the Kings all the way now; after all, I maintain they still have a better chance of making the playoffs than the Dodgers.
“I kind of thought you might be here tonight,” Murray said.
Well, I can’t tell you how much better that made me feel, because here we are closing in on the end of the season and I just didn’t get here very often because something always seemed to come up when it was time for a Kings’ game.
“Since you’re with us now ‘all the way,’ as you say,” Murray said, “does that mean you’ll be coming to Colorado with us Thursday night?”
I think that goes without saying, but I got the distinct impression from the look on Murray’s face that he wanted to hear me say it.
“Why sure, I’ll be there Thursday in Colorado with the guys if all goes well,” I said, which might disrupt plans to cover the NCAA basketball tournament regional games at the Anaheim Pond on Thursday. But who needs me more?
In fact I offered to give the Kings a pep talk before the game, but Murray said, “Why don’t you save that until we really need it.”
THAT MADE sense to me. The Kings were home to play the Columbus whatevers, who had already taken a beating in Anaheim a night earlier, and that’s why Murray is such a good coach -- no reason to waste his ace in the hole.
So I told Murray, “Some time when the team is up against it, and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they got and win just one more for me, and then I’ll do the rest.”
All the Kings have to do is win all seven remaining games and have Edmonton lose all six of its games, and they will make the playoffs. Phoenix and Nashville have to lose some more, too, but why sweat the details? I’m thinking seven in a row and we’re looking at the “Miracle on Chick Hearn Court.”
But then I got to thinking -- the way the Lakers are playing, we might want to save that for future use, so we just might have to call this the “Miracle on Ice.”
Oh, it has ... well then I’ll work on that.
I TOOK a walk around the Staples Center concourse to spend some time with other hockey fans, and I thought if I found somebody willing to talk with me they might let me know what plans they have for the playoffs. I wouldn’t want to miss the party, and while I’m told it has been suggested on a Web site that I should be buried in the ice face up so I’d have to watch every Kings’ game, I began to wonder Tuesday night if I’m really the only true-blue fan the Kings have.
“They’re still physically breathing, but they aren’t going to be in the playoffs,” said Pete Volkoff, a season-ticket holder. “They’re done.”
I still had that speech I was going to deliver to the players, so I tried it out on Volkoff, and he held up his hands, and said, “OK, OK, I believe. If you say we have a chance, then I’ll have faith in them too.”
I moved on to the “Team LA” stand, a little distressed to find the $15 Jason Allison and Adam Deadmarsh rubber-duckies had been reduced to $8. I was under the impression the duckies had just clinched a playoff spot, and was about to tell the clerk he could charge more for them when I ran into Len Goldberg, a season-ticket holder who makes the drive from Palm Springs to watch these guys play.
“Playoffs, baby,” I said.
“They were out of it last September when they didn’t sign an extra winger,” Goldberg groused. “They need to sell the team to an owner who wants to win the Stanley Cup and not just make money on real estate.”
At that very moment I was sure glad the players were downstairs in the locker room and insulated from this insolence.
“Sir, I’m here to support our guys,” I said. “I’m with them all the way.”
“Why do so many people dislike you?” Goldberg wanted to know.
I guess that’s what happens when you’re willing to stand behind your team no matter how bleak things might look to everyone else.
In fact I stopped by the box office on the concourse level and asked Sherry the ticket seller when King playoff tickets would be going on sale, and she said, “Let me see if I have any information on that.”
After shuffling some papers, she excused herself to ask someone else and came back to say in halting terms, “Heart-breaking news -- it doesn’t look.... “
I REFUSE to accept that, of course, and it’s now 1-0 in favor of the Kings in the second period. If Columbus, the worst team in the Western Conference, doesn’t come back to tie it up and end our season -- (confident, I went home early to pack) -- I’ll be scoreboard watching tonight because if Edmonton doesn’t beat or tie Phoenix, I’ll be off to Colorado on Thursday to support our guys.
Now wouldn’t that be something. In their time of need, I might very well be the only supporter from Los Angeles going all the way to Denver to root the guys on.
I JUST got a call from Staples. It’s 1-1 in the third period, and the season might be over for the Kings. I should’ve given the guys that pep talk. It’s 1-1, they are into overtime, the Kings have pulled their goalie and Columbus scores. Final score: Columbus 2, Kings 1.
That’s the last time I ever cheer for these stiffs.
TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Steve Parker:
“Phil [Jackson’s] response to your book comment was like, ho-hum, I’ve got to humor the village idiot....”
Funny, I get the same feeling each time I respond to the Last Word.
T.J. Simers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org