Ethan Switch - Wednesday, 1 March 2006
Darkness is the Kingdome. Spotlights roam around and the cheerleaders and dancers sparkle on the floor. Late for a weeknight in the city, tip off is thirty minutes behind the ticket time. Oils on the right reeks heavy of sweat, a pinch on the back of the throat and the light rises up with the food staying down. Basketballs descend from below, lobs high hit hard on the other end of the parabola. Danger? Only from the one that waits in rafters to bonk the one looking for their seat.
Squeaks are out with extra syllables in the national anthem. Over by the northern upper blend, blurting mid-verse, essence of which no doubt for the home side in the face of the Tigers fans over south.
Tigers take the first shot, notch on the bed post of the relationship, readying up their ante and looking for more. Three minutes ache on before Kings' Jason Smith nails a three. Three later and the tally climbs up for a nice round look with the Kings on, holding the Tigers back. Smith alone clocks 14 for the first with Ian Crosswhite not too far behind. Healthy and nice, Sydney up large with 28 to 17.
The Lion bangs the end of a chorus with the Sydney Kings cheerleaders. Minutes later and the freebies start flying into the crowd courtesy of the slingshot. A hit takes no eyes, falling way short of escaping the floor.
Tigers take the second quarter with a ramp into the back of the van. Furniture moves quick when the hands are all in the hammer lane. Finding an easier time scoring, they also prove to slip quite easily through the clutches of the Kings on both ends. Darryl MacDonald sails to ring in a dunk, forgetting the ball in the process. Chris Anstey on the other hand, dead balls one and continues leaving craters to his efforts. Smith continues to shine for the Kings as Stephen Hoare heads Melbourne's crank into the stream. Sydney manage to keep things in order with a tight edge on 47 to 41.
Solomon Linda's heirs proudly get another piece of the royalties with The Lion Sleeps Tonight forming backing for the performance. Tiny pink dancers and the Lion run around with lines and formations of no real discernable tale to foretell. A sky tower is impressive, short on pyramid but medium high on difficulty.
Cheerleaders entertain the other half of half-time. Two male dancers hit their ranks and are far more suggestive than the females. Their body waves going harder and with more roll than the females. Double the flavour and nobody complains.
Third quarter. Crowd continues to make enough noise to leave the out-of-date song tracks quiet and resting. Annoying loops from the announcer's desk only act a play when the free throw lines are hit, no smug and haughty ha-ha this game around. MacDonald clips Smith and a little tussle hits the boards. Sedric Webber makes some moves to bring up the lagging efforts of the Kings. Rebounds start again to flow the way of the Tigers. Rustling tussle watches on as Melbourne power through to climb up and over the Kings. A last second shot by David Barlow not enough for the psych, Sydney down 65 to 66.
Dead weight drops in as naming rights sponsor Trendwest and a V-line of cheerleaders present a novelty check nobody can fold into their back pocket.
Final quarter and the sense of pain and pressure intensifies. Fighting by the three point shot, the Kings take their own lives as they watch one rock after another chip the ring and deny a rise on their side. CJ Bruton and Ben Knight up against Rashad Tucker and Dave Thomas fare not so well in the ranks. Tigers find easy entry through the defence of the Kings, cutting straight under the net with no opposition in sight. Shot by shot, Sydney start fielding fouls in an attempt to slow Melbourne down. Shy easy threes, the entire stadium winces as the opportunities slip and bounce by. Agony is watching on as the margin sniffs the line only to watch it squirrel away.
Melbourne Tigers in the end too good for Sydney Kings, winning the match 88 to 83 and sweeping the grand final series. Three NBL championships later, a team manages to best and wrestle the trophy from the hands of the Kings. Valiant effort.
Cutting down the nets doesn't feature in the post game celebrations. One snip, another, and the procession is on the rings and showering underneath champagne and ticker tape.