Following the aftermath of the near experiment into deafness came the screaming, the sweating and the uncomfortable feeling of being lost. And then came breakfast. Sometime after downing the daily sustenance that would see enough energy being provided in order to carry out yet another day of futility the phone rang to life. In any event I found myself in a car that was being beckoned by a whole fleet on the edge of a point. On short notice I was ready to watch a local derby match between the Sydney Kings and the West Sydney Razorbacks at the Entertainment Centre. Round Two as it was billed. It could have also been a Hollywood remake. Just like the first, only with a greater production value.
The pre-bought and nearly squandered ticket to the game hinted at a Preliminary at 6pm, and what they might have been like, I have no idea. I was there to watch the main and subsequently arrived shortly before the start, just as the teams were practising their shots.
The Entertainment Centre was flooded with people lining up to the doors. A man was giving away big yellow hands for supporters of the Kings, but I failed to step away in order to do a little raiding. It's a tactic used best to unsettle the other team, in this case being the cross-town rivals, the Razorbacks. A sea of limp and busting plastic hands to further point out to the visitors that they were in for a roasting.
The last time I was in the Ent Cent was during the Volleyball finals of the 2000 Olympics. The Russians were playing the Dutch—if memory serves anything other than perverted dreams—and although I could make out the action from seats four rows from high in the back, I couldn't understand a word the dwarf announcer was saying. The acoustics were all wrong. However, hovering above the basketball court this night were a hive of speakers. Not to mention a man in blue - perhaps my beige outfit of early last year was part of something - Rodney O calling the game. It's interesting to note how many times a player's nick name, real or otherwise, gets used in the game. While it's okay to know that Mr Stiff, Pocket Rocket Rucker or the Mailman have delivered it gets a little tiring to know that Chris "Mr Smooth" Williams and Kavossy Franklin pretty much carry the Kings on their imported shoulders. Not that there is anything wrong with that given the obvious flair in their ball handling and the occasional mid-air manoeuvres.
"Pick up ya game, Heal!"
One fault of the sound, which really can't be fixed with technical know-how is that of the supporter/sponsor with a homonymous name. In this case it was that of the Heaydon Harlequins. Not matter how many times it was said, it still sounded like HAYDYN/HEYDON/AIDEN.
The quarter and half game shows looked as if they were something to behold, or in the very least, works of production compared to other arenas which have people running around aimlessly throwing things into the crowd. The smaller kids of the crowd - and who managed to get themselves on court - garnered the biggest reactions from the crowd. In the first quarter break three earlier sequestered shopping trolleys came out and were shot at by a kid. The aim was to shoot a basketball into each of the trolleys, which were distanced. It looked as if the second one was giving him a little trouble. There just wasn't any strength in his arm. The third caused quite an uproar given that while he was still facing it tough some guy took it upon himself to move about the trolley and as the ball would have landed had it not been moved, jeers from the crowd erupting only to see them quieted into cheers when he finally managed to sink the third. The half-time featured a line-up of crowd shooters who took to the free throw in an elimination/knock out style. The line of about ten was soon whittled away to just a teen and a kid. Nobody wanted the teen to win, enough to warrant booing him down. The kid in the end and walked away with some thousands of dollars.
The third break featured two knights duelling it off on a slam dunk competition - I was informed by my friend that the contestants were showing their stuff at some nightclub with a GAS problem. One in silver the other in black. Two attempts, the crowd to decide. For reasons beyond, Rodney O asked whether or not there were any R&B/Hip Hop fans in the house, "We've got it all." The silver failed on both attempts leaving the black to take out the joust with both completed dunks and a trip to the states to a Lakers game.
The Lion—it being the mascot for the Kings—needs to release some anger in a less public arena. Early in the first half he kick-tripped a kid in a mask under the board and then, after listening to the crowd ala Hulk Hogan style, flattened him out with a body slam. Later on, after changing into army print pants and a tank top, started shooting shirts into the crowd. This was definitely better than the weak arm of a sideliner. But, much like the Blimp that dropped most of its load on the side facing the team benches, so too were the shirts unjustly distributed.
Despite the Razorback fans shouting obscenities along the lines of improbably acts, they failed to lead at any point during the game. Almost with a stunning ease, the Kings lead with at least a margin of 10 points throughout the entire game. They never looked tired while the Razorbacks looked to have given up soon after the first tip-off. Chris Williams went onto claim an easy triple-double. The post-match interviews didn't reveal much, but at least I could hear a majority of what was being said.
Reviewed on Monday, 20 January 2003