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Monday, December 20, 2010
The Kings of hyperbole

By Henry Abbott

Just about a year ago, on the morning of December 23, 2009, the Kings were a young team hovering just below .500, with 13 wins and 14 losses.

They were playing better than they had in years, heading into big games, pitting budding star Tyreke Evans first against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, and then against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.

In crunch time of both games, Westphal did something unusual -- insisted his team isolate the rookie Evans against the big stars. Evans was OK ... but not great. And the Kings lost both games in overtime.

Over the next few months, the front office essentially declared victory anyway, handing the G.M. and coach big contract extensions, while handing the team's offense over to a rookie-of-the-year campaign.

In announcing a December 2009 contract extension for GM Geoff Petrie, co-owner Gavin Maloof said: "I sincerely believe there's going to be multiple championships for this team. I don't know if it's going to be next year, the year after."

Since then the team has played 80 games, and won just 17. Whether the team can even raise the support to continue operating in Sacramento is an open question, and as the Kings have the worst record in the NBA there is no longer talk of titles.

It's not clear exactly what happened to sap the Kings of their optimism. But it's clear when it happened: A year ago this week.