Game one was played out and won by Sydney. The second of the series moved the diehard fans toward a domed location in Perth. I was not die hard. If anything I was only in the games for the ride. Since no plane tickets were purchased for the trip West of Australia, a few of us decided to head down to an rejuvenated establishment of the retired sort to watch their feed of the game. Televisions were mounted into the ceiling and after one of the group asked for the sound to be turned up we leant back and cranked our necks to watch the spectacle as covered by the boys from FOX Sports.
Stats flashed on the screen: 68% of teams who win the first game go on to win the finals, only 30% of these sweep the series. Brian Goorjian hadn't won a finals series for the last five shots at the championships.
From the onset there was a feeling of detachment, the absence of the atmosphere of a few thousand fans apparent, and for this I felt like I was missing a huge part of the game. The arena in Perth held a near capacity crowd close to five thousand, the Entertainment Centre held nearly ten thousand in Game One. As mentioned earlier, a few of the more die hard fans made the journey to the west and bunked themselves out in a corner of the stadium.
As is the norm with club spaces, the lingering choke of cigarette smoke filtered through the air ducts but not before latching itself onto the garments of the patrons. Keno wrestling was on a nearby television while on the other, the on going war on a slow news day.
The player stats were shown and Matthew Neilsen, the longest suffering player in the Kings team that night, looked to have had his high school photo used in place of the normal shot. The last time the Kings played against the Wildcats in Perth, the Kings walked away on top.
While there was an appearance by a vocal group by the name of Shakaya in Sydney, Steve Carfino, sports commentator and ex-Kings player stepped into the centre circle to sing the national anthem. Nervous, the delivery was rushed and the notes were let go as soon as he grabbed on to them. It was noted that this might have been ominous for the hosting side.
Tip off, and the game was under way. In the previous match, the Kings were fighting to play catch up with the Wildcats, this time around the Cats were struggling to even hold themselves together as a team. The gloomy demon hanging above their heads no doubt affected their play. They were down one in the series and if they didn't win the second, would have lost the championships. On the other side of things, the Kings were fluid, smooth and extremely relaxed in their attack and relentless in defence. No matter where they were on the court, the Kings shut down the Wildcats and punished them with an ever expanding margin. In comparison to the first game, this felt rather flat given that the Kings did not at one time trail, the Cats were being led to slaughter by the Lions.
There was no competition. 28 points separated the Kings from the Cats at the end of the second quarter. Half-time entertainment was obscured by the commentators taking to the screen. Of what I did manage to see were cheerleaders performing some sort of dance that at times required them to grab onto their ankles like the old crab movements back in school. All roads...
To the left of the viewing area, two plastered golfers were lining up a putt. It was indicative of all the events and nuances during the afternoon signaling the defeat of the long standing hoodoo over the Kings, after a wrenching sixteen year existence without a win, they were finally champions.
The players drenched each other in alcohol, although it was obvious that the champagne was bubbling, the game itself felt rather empty and flat. Too one-sided to really enjoy the battle.
Sixteen years and the winning margin was sixteen points. Ominous indeed.
Reviewed on Tuesday, 8 April 2003