So one night as I am getting her out of there, she looks over at the basketball courts. “Daddy, why are those mommies playing basketball?”
With good seats available in
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We chose a Saturday night game with the Monarchs vs. LA. I was hoping for just a touch of that Kings-Lakers NoCal-SoCal hate, but no such luck – booing, it would appear, is primarily a male trait. Mostly, the crowd cheered when Sacto scored and groaned when LA did, or just seemed happy to be in air conditioning for a few hours.
The building was about a third full, but Arco is a nice enough place that it did not seem too bad. The game was forgettable; lots of short jump shots and turnovers, with LA’s Lisa Leslie pretty much having her way. No one seemed to care that much, least of all my 4-year-old, who watched for a few minutes, got the gist that girls could do this too, and then did what she always does at games – pine for junk food.
There was, however, one striking moment of wonderfulness. With about 15 minutes left in the game and LA starting to pull away, the home team played its big hole card to get the crowd back into it. With a big drum roll, the announcer welcomed our special guest of the evening… NCAA Champion and Sacramento King Mateen Cleaves! (Wiki page for Cleaves on the click. Wow, the 2000 draft was a stone stinker.)
Now, on the off chance that you’ve forgotten Mateen… he’s a 12th-man kind of point guard, notable only for his off-the-charts bench celebrations in Kings-Lakers games of the era. Mateen could make a six-month-old golden retriever look calm and reserved. And here he was, the crowd rising from a refreshing nap to clap for him… and he’s shielding himself from the camera, like he has just been forced to do a perp walk in front of the media.
Ever hear the sound of 3,000 people who all stop clapping in a fit of embarrassment? I have. Now, back that up with the PR announcer going deeper for it. “Come on folks! Give it up for him! Sacramento King – Mateen – CLEAVES!” By the time it was done, Mateen looked like he was trying to figure out a way to crawl through the floorboards.
I’m sure that the NBA had a rough time in the early days. I admire, as a father of daughters, the fact that David Stern keeps trying to make women’s basketball a viable pro sport, even though I’m sure my kids will never go near that career path. People who get their jollies out of making WNBA jokes make me uncomfortable. It’s just too easy of a target, and it hints at an overall bad attitude towards women.
But I’m pretty sure that when being at your event makes Mateen Cleaves hide, you are decades away from being a real league.
In other news, I’m pretty sure Mateen cut my grass last week.