The answer is a resounding YES.
Of COURSE its ok to be excited about being in the 8 seed. Even if the season is exactly half over. Sure, there’s plenty of time for injuries, tantrums, and just general team malaise that we saw against Philly, Portland, New Orleans, etc.
But the rest of the answer to the headline is this: Its also ok to NOT be excited about it as well.
I firmly fall in the camp of #TeamExcited, and I’m proud to be there. This has been about as tough a 10 years as a franchise can have. Year after year of crappy picks, mid-level lame exception players, oh and the whole THE TEAM IS MOVING thing. Life has been pretty tough for Kings fans. There are kids in 5th grade that have never seen the Kings in the postseason, much less contend for anything. The most excitement fans have had lately is the annual “where will the ping pong balls fall” dance each June.
I for one am excited. I don’t want to wait until April to start praying. I’m happy to scoreboard watch in January. The Kings are above .500 since that 1-7 start. They are above .500 with Demarcus Cousins playing. They are 7-3 with Willie Cauley-Stein in the lineup. But they are 5 games under .500 as of this writing, and that’s the bottom line.
The signs are there. The Kings have also played the 4th toughest schedule in the NBA. They have played the Warriors 4 times. That early 1-7 stretch came when most of the team was just meeting each other, much less figuring out chemistry. Sure there are the crap Philly-style disappointments that make us want to go out and slap a puma in the face, but anyone watching this team over the last 30 days can see the change. They are the “Dagger in Dallas” away from a 5 game road streak. That counts for something.
So as of right now, they are in the playoffs. I’m watching the scoreboard. Last night I was a Knicks fan (Utah) and an Atlanta fan (Portland). 24 hours later Atlanta is the enemy, coming into Sleep Train with a 15 game win streak over the Kings, and the Kings home record this year after coming off the road (3-5) is nothing to be proud of.
I sat and watched my radio partner Deuce Mason get killed this morning for being “Deucey Downer”, which he generally is. Let’s be honest, he’s 20-something going on “grouchy old man”. That’s his thing. I also get where he and others are coming from, and they’re not wrong. Being the 8 seed in January doesn’t mean you’re in the playoffs, and the team is still 5 games under .500. In pretty much any other year over this decade-long drought, the Kings would most likely be 5 games out of the dance with that same mark in the Western Conference. I can understand those who don’t want to hop on the hype train yet.
There is also a group of fans that surely don’t want to get too excited because they are like an abused animal. You can only come back to the trough wagging your tail so many times before you get tired of being hit with a shoe. This team has disappointed time and time again, and in Sacramento- you never get too high about anything. Nothing is for sure. So if there’s a little bit of self-protection in there, I get it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Fans Can Fan However Fans Want. There’s no better way to be a fan than the other, unless you’re a bandwagoning team-hopper, and in that case you just suck anyway. If people want to get excited in January, awesome. If you want to hold out for a plus .500 record and more of a solid footing, feel free.
I, for one, have dealt with way too much negative to not embrace the positive. We have had so little to cling to in terms of optimism over the years, why not? The best things that have happened to this franchise lately have been off-court. Now that things are clicking a bit on the hardwood, I don’t know what to do with my hands.
To each his own. We are all on the same team. We just may have differentiating views on how we choose to ride the ride.