I am not crazy enough to think that anything I do, some 2,500 miles away from Sacramento, has any effect on the way the Kings play. No, I'm way past that stage. Like most devoted sports fans, I'm devastated after crucial losses (occasionally taking out my frustration on unsuspecting household appliances) and enthralled after clutch wins.
In occasional moments of self-reflection, I used to question why I'd get so deeply affected by someone else's accomplishments, fully aware that I contributed absolutely nothing to the game's outcome. The truth is, I've always felt that my connection with the Kings extended beyond watching games on television, but that, for better or worse, my life's success has been directly intertwined with the team's prosperity on the basketball court.
I was 11 years old when I watched my first Kings game, a 30-point drubbing at the hands of the New Jersey Nets, and a sign of things to come in a predictably dreadful 28-win season. That same year, I started having trouble seeing the blackboard and was forced to wear thick-rimmed glasses with tape across the center that would've made Steve Urkel blush.
When Sacramento once again failed to make the playoffs during the following season, my sixth-grade crush turned me down at my first (and only) middle school dance.
During the team's miraculous playoff appearance in 1995-96, I not only made the basketball team, but set the school record for free throw percentage.
Not surprisingly, everything was back to normal the following year, as the Kings missed the postseason yet again and traded away my favorite player. Around the same time, sprained ankles and stress fractures kept me out of sports and many social activities.
Things began to change in the late '90s. Sacramento was on its way to becoming an elite team and a perennial title contender, and I started dating the same girl who wouldn't dance with me in middle school. That five-year stretch of Sacramento successes ran parallel with a handful of my own personal accomplishments, as well as quite a few legendary college parties that aren't appropriate for this family site. Long story short, coincidentally or not, both the Kings and I were on top of our games at the same time.