It’s almost curtains for the NBA in Sacramento


Parting is such sweet sorrow, even in cow towns.

Talk about eras ending. Wednesday’s Lakers game in Sacramento may be the NBA’s last there … and Phil Jackson’s last in a regular season anywhere.

Unfortunately, Jackson won’t get to say goodbye to the fans he called semi-civilized redneck barbarians, prompting them to go home and get their cowbells.

Jackson has since called a move to Anaheim “ridiculous” and said he’ll miss the rowdy atmosphere, so even if owners Joe and Gavin Maloof offered him their coaching job in 2005, they’re skipping a farewell ceremony.

Of course, it could be the last day of an NBA regular season for a long time, or ever.


With our Sunday page ending for the playoffs, just in case this is the last one of these I’ll write …

You say hello, I say goodbye

With Sacramento fans organizing a sellout in a last-ditch show of support for the Feb. 28 Clippers game, Clippers officials were aghast to see the Kings wear retro Royals jerseys.

“Royals” was their name in Rochester and Cincinnati before rolling on to Kansas City and Sacramento … and would be again in Anaheim.

Both Los Angeles teams are watching silently but in horror.

Time Warner’s new $3-billion Lakers TV deal reportedly has a third-team clause, reducing it by $250 million.

So much for the notion there’s a dollar figure that could satisfy Jerry Buss.

Royals set opener for … whenever


Meanwhile, with NBA owners seeking 40% of players’ salaries, there’s plenty to discuss before the mid-October drop-dead date to start on time … or the early-January drop-dead date to start at all.

Along the way, however, things will change.

If the decertified NFL players’ anti-trust case goes forward successfully, NBA players will follow suit, literally.

Otherwise, NFL and NBA owners regain that leverage.

Then there’s a Sacramento move …

In any labor deal, the big owners — starting with Buss — will be asked to fund dramatically increased revenue sharing.

Does someone think Buss will watch $250 million fly away because someone set up a lemonade stand in Orange County, then say, “I’d be glad to kick in an extra $5 million to $10 million annually?”

When the looming lockout complicated New Orleans’ sale, Commissioner David Stern swooped down, bought the Hornets and put talks on hold.

Look, up in the skies!

Yes, Caped Commissioner could swoop down, bolster the Maloofs for a year and get this deferred, too.


Oops: The Boston Celtics, now dependent on 39-year-old Shaquille O’Neal, saw his long-awaited return last five minutes before hurting himself again. … Meanwhile opponents play off Rajon Rondo, making him shoot over them, as Chicago’s Derrick Rose did, outscoring him, 30 points to seven. … By the way, if Rose is bigger, better and can shoot, that’s the way opponents will start playing him, too.

Why I hate the MVP: On Rose’s behalf, people now sneer at Orlando’s 50 wins, or, on Dwight Howard’s behalf, claim Rose is incidental to the Bulls’ success. … Actually, they’re both great. Rose will win in a romp.

Uh, don’t MVPs lead? After months insisting he doesn’t want to leave, Howard told the Orlando Sentinel’s Brian Schmitz he wouldn’t get all his technicals “playing for another team.” … How about a poll asking Magic fans if he meant the New York Knicks or Lakers?

—Mark Heisler