Not even the notion of a free ticket was enough to entice Ryan or anybody else to pry themselves away from the start of the Australian Idol finale between Casey Donovan and Anthony Callea. Left in the mad rush of the Kings' appearance at Martin Place during a Friday lunchtime, tickets to the section under the section under the Philips big screen of the Kingdome. As soon as Goorjian mentions "free," the players were swamped with hands grabby, grabby. Not many of those who snag tickets actually turn up. Ben Knight is one and for what seems like the third game in a row takes his warm-up shirt off glistening against one of the Kings drummer fans who promptly sheds his own. Volume 4, issue 4 of Kings News drapes over every other seat in the stadium. A light and easy read, every other copy is left untouched with attendance in part by those over from the West of Sydney, on for the grudge match, a repeat of last season's final.
King's Mark Sanford really shows some beef as he and the Razorbacks' Simon Dwight take offence to each other's mere court presence. Dwight dunks just over the head of Sanford only to have the Sandman return the favour with his own slam over Dwight. A definite, even under the radar, sizing of each other is going on. CJ Bruton's arm is strapped almighty and this gives BJ Carter on court time. Making for an impressive showing, the later half will be where it's at. Kings tip it out on 31 to 24 to end the first.
A grotesque pig's head with the body of a teenager leers in "creepy guy" mode at the mini cheerleaders as they dance their set. Rushing on, but pulling oh so short of a full blown tackle, the Lion takes him down. Stacking like a pyramid out of a PlayStation ad or Abu Gharib isn't forthcoming; an opportunity is missed, a little laugh is had. Now, if the kid ended up squealing, that would have been cherry. Better was the Lion totally unloading two cans of silly string on a guy sitting in a box, his girlfriend all out of the spray range, casually sipping her beverage of amber-coloured persuasion. Speaking of which, a Japanese man in a cowboy hat spits his water across five seats in a spectacular arc covering not only the people in front, but a few to his left.
Back from the short break, Sanford returns to up things with another slam dunk, clearly showing some strength in the swing of the board. It's all on as the Razorbacks get into the slinging with Nick Horvath and Steve Markovic notching up dunks of their own. Things are moving too fast again and the right side of vision is melting into the left as the first half and second quarter end with Kings 59 to Razorbacks 42.
Continuing an Arabian theme (that doesn't start anywhere), five bellydancers saunter out with golden shawls. They don't actually open with the belly-dancing, more with subdued rhythmic waving. No, when they do, they do it with swords resting atop their heads. Nice work on balance, but a little stifling at a cue. Action and grand movements are not apparent, hips in flexible array only for a few minutes and presented as the main. Narrative is lacking in direction, linear or otherwise. Too many times watching televised celebrations with scripted commentary will do this to the mind.
Weeks of kung fu inspired poster ads gracing the middle of the dirty street press finally show their meaning. On the Philips big screen, and after the commercial featuring the gospel choir led by Bernie Mac, LeBron James stars in a lengthy promo the likes of which have probably been seen before. Taking centre stage as a man on a quest to enlightenment, it makes quite a quick blend of a couple animation moods with special effects touched live-action scenes. The one thing that won't leave the mind is how weird out cool it is with a hint of humour. Now, the ads with the Kings players seem corny for all the corny reasons like a bowl full of last night's regret, but at least the screen isn't showing advertisements for an MRI machine or personal defibrillator. They never make any sense in the crowd setting.
Out of nowhere in the third, King's Jason Smith finds himself running to an empty half court with all the time in the world to set himself up for a sweet reverse dunk. Mere moments earlier a hobble of a man putting the fear into the fans as the ankle looked hurt. Entering the fourth on 86 to 59, Kings continue to smear the points against the Razorbacks.
Harlequins vs minis. Court time for both is fought and won by the minis who make more appearances running out every other now and then. Their numbers have grown for this match, as have their heights. Do they ever have the same crew? It doesn't matter. What does matter is having to listen, again, to DJ Otzi's version of Hey Baby. Chants and incantations of the guys under the Philips big screen are fast and change too quick to catch on. Rodney O is far more energetic in this game than in previous turns. Sheer enthusiasm and joy readily apparent in his voice, such as the great witness of Carter's run to the hoop. His laugh, powered by the tricked out bass level, is grand.
Kings continue the night's long play all over the Razorbacks, keeping their possession to a joyous minimum. Here and there, the ball zooms in and out making for shots most of the time, inside the key a majority. Even so far down and with time seriously in the vapour stage, the Pigs keep their drive on, looking for the extra points while the Kings practically walk off in the dying minutes. Kings baste the Pigs a healthy 123 on 89 as a side dish.
Reviewed on Sunday, 21 November 2004