Import of Posts from Flannel, PBR and PER

Today, I just imported some posts from Flannel, PBR and PER, mostly on the Sacramento Kings-centered variety. In a couple of days, I could import some Kansas City-related posts, but we will see. Either way, I decided to do this because I thought these posts still related to this blog, and it also gives people some perspective of some posts that I have written about the Kings in the past. I think a lot of the posts (especially about the Kings) will be similar to the ones I just imported from FPP, but they do show how I view the Kings as well as analyze them in the current day.

So, feel free to take a look at those old posts. If you want to see more of what was on Flannel, PBR and PER, feel free to check out the old blog as well. I don’t imagine I’m going to post much if at all on it anymore, but there are still a lot of quality posts I have that are worth taking a look, and not just on Kansas City and the Kings, but also WCC basketball and the NBA.

Enjoy this beautiful Sunday in Kansas City and this Memorial Day Holiday. Here is some reading for those who are “cookout”-inclined.

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Mitch Richmond: the Under-Appreciated Kings Legend

“Who hell are you trying to be!? Mitch Richmond!?”

When I played Parochial Athletic League basketball in Sacramento at Presentation grade school, the assistant coach of my teams during my 4-8th grade years (the team, akin to any PAL or CYO team, was usually coached by dads, and thus, I had the same coaches in grade school all 5 years at Presentation), used to shout this out to us when he felt one of us was ball-hogging or trying to do much on the floor. He was a native born Colombian and his thick accent made him pronounce the future NBA Hall of Famer’s name as “Meech Reechmond” which would garner snickers from us as ignorant adolescent kids. He usually would follow his statement with him taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes in frustration before he sat down back on the bench during a drill or scrimmage period, and we continued to play or do a drill, sometimes taking in what he said, but most of the time forgetting about it like most things adults said to us during this age.

I understood his reference to the Kings star during this adolescent period of my life: Richmond was the biggest star on Sacramento’s only professional sports team at the time. It was a reference all of us on the team understood because Richmond was always on the front page of the Sacramento Bee sports section from October through April and was on every Kings billboard ad throughout the metro (hell, the first Kings ad I remembered when I moved from Spokane to Sacramento was one that featured Richmond and Walt Williams; God, I loved Walt Williams). Plus, Michael Jordan was too cliche, and I’m sure he wanted to use a reference that was a bit more clever than simply referencing the greatest basketball player of all time.

But in retrospect, his reference was pretty deep (though I wonder if he really knew it). During his time in Sacramento, Richmond WAS the Kings. He was mainly responsible for the Kings’ success (which included the first playoff victory in Sacramento in 1995-1996) and his time in Sacramento proved to be a tenure that will be hard to duplicate by any player in Kings history (though Cousins may be able to, but he still has a long way to go). And yet, as time goes on, Richmond sort of goes forgotten or at the very least under-appreciated in Kings fandom lore. People remember C-Webb and Bibby and Peja and Vlade and White Chocolate and treat those players and that era with the up-most devotion. And rightfully so. Those players were part of the Kings’ most successful period in franchise history (or at least when they were named the Kings; I know they had some success with Oscar Robertson as the Rochester and Cincinnati Royals but god that was in the 60’s and I’m only 29).

But keep this in mind: without “The Rock” there is no C-Webb. There is no Rick Adelman. There are no playoff victories. There are no Western Conference Finals or Bibby’s big shot or Game 6 or epic Oral Histories by Jonathan Abrams.

Without Richmond…the Kings might be in Anaheim or Seattle already.

When Richmond was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014, I was initially a bit perplexed by the decision. After all, Richmond certainly didn’t have the “street cred” that screamed Hall of Famer. His best years in Sacramento consisted of him making the playoffs only once, and when he was part of “Run TMC” in Golden State with Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin, he was obviously the third banana behind Mulln and Hardaway in terms of popularity (hence, the reason he was traded to Sacramento for Billy Owens). Richmond only played in the playoffs 4 times (2 with Golden State, 1 with Sacramento and 1 with the Lakers) and when he won a NBA title with the Lakers, he was primarily a bench player, as he only played 4 total minutes during that 2002 Lakers title run.

But then I considered two things: his statistical performance and his impact on basketball in Sacramento.

First off, statistically, Richmond’s career in Sacramento was damn impressive. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1988-1989 with Golden State where he averaged 22 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 4.2 apg,  and shot 46.8 percent from the field and had a PER (player efficiency rating) of 17.2. He made the All-Star team six times in a row (from the 1992-1993 season through the 1997-1998 season), which included All-Star MVP honors during the 1994-1995 season. While he never was a first-team All-NBA player, he did earn All-NBA second team honors three times (1993-1994; 1994-1995 and 1996-1997) and All-NBA third team twice (1995-1996 and 1997-1998).

Richmond also was one of the first real superstars too who made his name as a “3-point sniper” as well. In the old NBA days, superstar wing players were known (and sometimes encouraged) to take it to the rim or focus as mid-range-centered shooters. 3-point shooters mainly specialized in that and that alone, as evidenced by the Dell Curry’s, Dennis Scott’s and Dale Ellis’ of the day. However, Richmond proved to make the 3-point shot a heavy part of his game, as he is 33rd all time in 3 point makes (1,326), 41st in attempts (3,417) and 63rd in career 3-point percentage (38.8 percent). And he did this as the primary scorer during his Kings and Wizards days (but most especially Kings). Maybe Stephen Curry looked to his father for influence on his 3-point shot, but without a doubt, Richmond’s emphasis on the 3-ball helped paved the way for Steph and other current NBA stars to use the 3 ball as part of their skill set (and not solely be defined by it).

Richmond played for four NBA teams in his career, but while some people would argue that he is most known for his “Run TMC” days in Golden State, I would argue that his impact in Sacramento was exponentially greater. The Warriors had two established stars in Hardaway and Mullin and coach Don Nelson also had a great influence in terms of helping the Warriors play a style of ball that catered to their strengths during this era (and during the 2006-2008 “We Believe” era with the Warriors as well). But when Richmond was traded to Sacramento, many felt that the move was going to be a career killer. Prior to Richmond, the last Kings player to play in the All-Star game was Otis Birdsong in 1980-1981 when the franchise was still in Kansas City. The Kings hadn’t made the playoffs since 1985 (their first season in Sacramento) when Richmond arrived in Sacramento in 1991, and they hadn’t won a playoff game since 1981, when they went to the Western Conference Finals (and as pointed out in the Birdsong reference, they were still in Kansas City). It was thought that Richmond could fade into obscurity, since Sacramento wasn’t the kind of franchise nor market that would help him elevate his career.

Well, “The Rock” bucked that train of thought and then some.

In 517 games as a King, Richmond averaged 23.3 ppg on 45.1 shooting from the field. He put up an effective field goal percentage of 50.6 percent (higher than his tenures in Los Angeles, Washington and even Golden State), he shot 40.4 and averaged 4.8 3-point attempts per game, and also 3.9 rebound and 3.0 assist per game as a King as well. And to put these numbers in perspective, “The Rock” did this as the Kings main and sometimes “only” offensive option on the floor. He averaged 37.8 minute per game and his career usage rate with the Kings was 27.0 percent (highest of any of his stops). Richmond’s 50.4 win shares and 38.3 offensive win shares accumulate with the Kings further illustrates his impact on the Kings during his seven years there. And though he played in Sacramento almost twice as long as he did in Golden State or Washington (where he played 3 seasons apiece), his time in Sacramento had more impact, as his win shares per 48 was higher in Sacramento (12.4 percent) than Golden State (10.1) and Washington (8.8). The same proved to be true with his PER as well as his 18.4 PER was higher in Sacramento than in Golden State (17.4) and Washington (15.8) . The Kings needed Richmond to have any semblance of success as a basketball team, and Richmond delivered time and time again much to the delight of the organization and the fans of Sacramento.

1996-1997 may have been statistically his best season. He made the All-Star team and he averaged a career high 25.9 in 38.6 minutes per game, shot 45.4 percent from the floor and 42.8 percent from beyond the arc, and posted a PER of 21.6 (a career high) and 10.8 total win shares (another career high). But the Kings struggled with consistency roster-wise as well as internal coaching issues. Starting power forward Brian Grant only played 24 games, Olden Polynice began his career decline, Lionel Simmons and Duane Causwell, former Kings standouts, displayed that they were done as NBA players, and though Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was supposed to have an impact after being acquired from Denver, he never really meshed with the Kings roster like Tyus Edney and Sarunas Marciulionis the previous season. Gary St. Jean was fired after a 28-39 record, and Eddie Jordan (who later took their reigns for one disastrous year ala Keith Smart style) only helped the Kings win 4 of their last 12 games for a record of 34-48 overall. The turmoil and regression was a disappointment, as the Kings seemed to waste what was Richmond’s best statistical season of his career.

But, while 1996-1997 was better individually, the 1995-1996 season proved to be the most defining and memorable season for Richmond and Kings fans (until the Adelman era of course). Richmond’s numbers were still impressive (23.1 ppg, 44.7 FG percentage, 19.2 PER), but the Kings finished 39-43 and earned a playoff series against the heavily favored Seattle SuperSonics, who ended up losing to the Chicago Bulls in the Finals.

The Sonics were expected to smoke a Kings team that looked like Richmond and a band of misfits. The Sonics had Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp in the peaks of their careers, and were filled with excellent complementary players like Hersey Hawkins, Detlef Schrempf and Nate McMillan off the bench. George Karl was a playoff-seasoned coach whose coaching style was much more refined than the “play-call” heavy St. Jean. And Key Arena was one of the toughest venues to play at in the NBA for opposing teams. With “The Glove” guarding Richmond, the Kings looked doomed.

And then Game 2 happened.

Despite getting outplayed and losing 97-85 in game 1, Richmond came out gunning in Game 2. Despite getting all kinds of defensive attention from Payton and the Sonics, “The Rock” carried the Kings to a 90-81 upset, scoring 37 points on 13 of 22 shooting while also nabbing 4 boards and 4 assists. And while his offensive impact was obviously noted, when one watches the game again on tape, Richmond’s defensive impact was vastly underrated. Though he was not known as a defensive player in his career, Richmond relished the big stage in his first playoff appearance in Sacramento. Richmond matched up on the Glove and in a surprising fashion, “The Rock” shut down Payton, not vice versa as the experts predicted. Payton only scored 10 points on 4 of 12 shooting, and Richmond helped spark the Kings defense to help them outscore the Sonics 25-14 in the 4th quarter, which ultimately led to the win. And what made this offensive-defensive performance even more remarkable? Richmond played all 48 minutes of this game.

Without a doubt, Game 2 against the Sonics is something basketball fans should always mention whenever anyone wants to talk about Richmond. Considering the circumstances and the roster of the Kings, Richmond leading the Kings to this kind of road win against the eventual Western Conference champs was the stuff of mythical legend. Yes, the Kings lost the series (though they did give the Sonics all they could handle in a 96-87 Game 3 loss at Arco where the crowd was absolutely lit following their game 2 win). But Richmond did all he could to keep the Kings in the series against the Western Conferences’ top seed, not an easy feat, especially considering the Sonics ended up sweeping the Rockets in the next round. He averaged 21 ppg on 44.4 percent shooting and had a PER of 16.7 for the series, and he led the Kings to their first playoff win in 15 years and first ever in Sacramento history.

And of course…he had Game 2.

After the 1997-1998 season, the Kings knew that they had gone as far as they could with Richmond as the team’s star. With a new ownership, new front office and new coach, the Kings dealt Richmond to the Wizards for Chris Webber which ended up being the key move that changed the Kings fortunes as a franchise in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Richmond unfortunately gets recognized more for this trade than his actual accomplishments as a King, and that’s unfair. Richmond proved that a superstar could play in Sacramento and could lead the Kings to the playoffs. Yes, he only made the playoffs once, but the Kings front office and a lot of bad luck didn’t help things. What if Bobby Hurley never got in that car crash? What if Lionel Simmons was healthy? What if the Kings stopped drafting physical forwards who had no offensive skills whatsoever (Michael Smith and Michael Stewart)? What if Brian Grant stayed? What if the Kings had a decent coach? Not a lot of players could have handled the adversity Richmond faced in Sacramento, but Richmond not only handled it, but played above it. His fortitude in Sacramento is the reason why stars like Vlade Divac and Webber agreed to come to Sacramento. It’s the reason why Demarcus Cousins stays with the Kings (and hopefully continues to stay). It’s the reason why Richmond is in the Hall of Fame.

If Richmond can make it work in Sacramento, if he can make six All-Star games and make the All-NBA team multiple times as a King, if he can lead them to a playoff series and win despite a meager roster situation, then any other star can with the Sacramento Kings as well. Success just isn’t exclusive to the Celtics, Lakers, Spurs and now Warriors and Cavs.

In some ways, I always felt Richmond got robbed of some legacy by the Kings playing in Sacramento rather than Kansas City. Richmond was a legend at Kansas State, and I could have seen the Kansas City community really honoring Richmond in ways I think Sacramento never could. Richmond would have been a local legend whose name would still be spoken in reverence in the KC community, even during the late 90’s and early 2000’s when the Kings had their great competitive run. Instead of being a secondary star to Webber and Divac and Bibby and Williams, Richmond would have been the King Kansas City fans would have adored the most. Because not only did he have local ties, but he also had the kind of composure that Midwest and Kansas City-citizens gravitate toward. He was tough, he was always composed, and he gave a professional effort night in and night out. Richmond would have changed the perspective of professional basketball in Kansas City if the Kings were still in Sacramento. He was that kind of “Midwest” player.

And furthermore, he is friendly as hell. One of my favorite moments was during the Kings “Draft 3.0” when the amateur stat guys are giving their analysis on potential picks in the 2014 draft and though it’s obvious Richmond is a bit confused on what’s going on, he at the end gives them all encouragement for their hard work. Some NBA players could have just shooed them off (we didn’t see Shareef Abdur Rahiem, who was also in the room, say anything positive). But Richmond seems to be the kind of genuine guy who knows hard work when he sees it and recognizes it when it’s deserved. For amateurs who are trying to break into the industry, that kind of feedback and encouragement is invaluable not to mention motivational.

I didn’t always grow up a Kings fan. And I admit, I probably didn’t give Richmond enough credit during his time in Sacramento. But as I look back, Richmond is probably my favorite King from the past. Not only did he have the most impact statistically out of any player in Sacramento, but he got the Kings to respectability, and got the gears in motion for what would eventually be that string of success after he was traded to Washington.

And let’s remember who he was a player: a shooter, strong off the drive, an excellent free throw shooter and capable of big defensive performances and moments as evidenced in the video below:

Cheers Mitch. Maybe Sacramento is mixed in their appreciation for you, but you got a devout fan here in Kansas City.

An Appreciation for Rosedale BBQ of KCK

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“I grew up on Rosedale beef sandwiches…”

It’s a quote one of my friends told me about Rosedale BBQ in Kansas City, Kansas near the State Line of Kansas and Missouri. The area surrounding Rosedale BBQ is interesting to say the least. It is on Southwest Boulevard in the Rosedale neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, and is right off of where 7th Street Trafficway (the gritty part of Kansas City Kansas that also goes through Armourdale and Central) turns into Rainbow Boulevard (which is a bit more bourgeois thanks to KU Medical Hospital and West 39th). It is located near railroad tracks, which might be abandoned (I don’t know, I have never seen active trains on it), definitely abandoned grain silos, the Rosedale World War I Memorial Arch (the stepchild to the more well-known Liberty Memorial) and two popular Mexican Restaurants (Taqueria Mexico and Sabor y Sol).

When you think about it, Rosedale BBQ, which has been around since 1934 and is one of the oldest BBQ places in Kansas City not named Arthur Byrant’s or Gates, is a microcosm of modern day Kansas City Kansas: a dying railroad industry, old immigrants meet new, and a blue collar approach to life that can border on slow or “dwelling in the past” to most people who are not familiar with the citizens of the area.

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When I first moved to Kansas City, I settled off 6th and Central Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas and Wyandotte County through the suggestion of a friend of mine (though people always remarked it was crazy, since it wasn’t really near any major entertainment districts and it had a reputation as a rough area around the metro). It was as if I were transported to a world that was part working class Pennsylvania, part Chicano East Los Angeles. You had people who came from old immigrant families from Croatia, Slovenia and Poland, who came to Kansas to work for the railroad industry and had brought with them their traditions and cultures which manifested in bars, restaurants and Catholic Churches around the area. And then time passed, the railroad jobs became scarce, the housing became cheap, and in came Chicano and first-generation American families from Mexico and Central America, bringing their own cultures and traditions to the KCK area, shaping it into the current KCK and Wyandotte County that is seen today. In my mind, KCK was an embodiment of the American dream slowly developing and shaping to the modern day world, only this story wasn’t happening in Los Angeles or New York or Miami, but in the Midwest in the heart of America, but on the Kansas side rather than Missouri.

As I lived in KCK for over two years before I moved to Midtown KCMO, I slowly uncovered more unique places to eat and drink: numerous taquerias; burrito windows open 24 hours on the weekend; Go Chicken Go; Salvadoran restaurants that specialized in Papusas; Pollo Asado joints that only sold half and whole chickens with beans, rice and tortillas; Italian delis in nearly abandoned strip malls; and no dining room-area Chinese places serviced by really sarcastic cashiers, just to name a few.

But at the end of the day, my favorite place to dine in KCK was Rosedale BBQ. Granted, I liked it because it was BBQ, and as a Californian, I really never knew what “true” BBQ was until I came to Kansas City. To me, BBQ was baby back ribs and dry beef and sausage my family would get every once in a while from Back Forty BBQ in Roseville. I never experienced real brisket or burnt ends or spare ribs, which is the only ribs to eat according to people in the Midwest outside of Chicago. But in all honesty, Rosedale represented that melting pot of KCK, that Midwest blue collar, working class identity meshing with the ever-changing demographics of Kansas City Kansas as well as the Westside Kansas City Missouri community right off of Southwest Boulevard.

To be honest, the food at Rosedale is good, better than it gets credit for according to Yelp, but it struggles with consistency. The beef can be moist and tender one day, and chopped up and fatty the next. The hot BBQ sauce can be spicy and savory as well as the perfect complement to their crisp-fried crinkle cut fries. But on some days, the sauce is over-peppered, tasting as if somebody accidentally dumped way too much pepper in the jar by accident in the sauce, and was too apathetic or cheap to throw it out and simply make a new batch. The ribs probably are the antithesis of what any BBQ snob would prefer: they are untrimmed with a lot of fat and grizzle, fall too easily off the bone, and though they have a nice smoke ring, they may seem to dry to most rib purists’ taste.

But, Rosedale isn’t the place for BBQ artistry. Joe’s and Jack Stack and Woodyard are those places, establishments for backyard suburban BBQ aficionados who want to whet their appetite for real BBQ when the weekend cookout fare didn’t live up to expectations. Those places are for the tourists and the BBQ snobs of the surrounding Kansas City Metro Area who feel the need to justify their food choices and BBQ allegiances based on what was featured in the Michelin guide or what has 5 stars on Yelp. And no offense to those places. They are good, and I enjoy eating at those places on occasion.

However, they are not Rosedale’s.

For starters, they do not have Rosedale’s speed. Even when the place is busy, Rosedale churns out BBQ dinners and sandwiches in record speed. The cashiers don’t write any orders down and have a lingo that is unique to their establishment. (For example “beef deluxe combo, fries extra crispy”, a very popular order you will hear being yelled to the kitchen window consistently means beef sandwich on bun with fries that are put in the deep fryer a little bit longer than usual). Even during a lunch or dinner rush, you can get your order and eat in 20-30 minutes. For the working man on the clock, Rosedale is the perfect spot that will get you back to work with some time to spare, perhaps to get or make a pot of coffee to avoid that afternoon post-lunch coma.

And secondly, no other BBQ place can beat Rosedale’s prices. You can get a slab of spareribs for around 18 bucks and 14 on Monday’s. A beef sandwich, fries and a RC cola will usually ring you in just under 10 dollars. It is common to just get a few morsels of BBQ for around 15-20 dollars at more “popular” BBQ establishments, but at Rosedale one can guarantee to be full not just in the stomach, but also decently so in the wallet or bank account afterward.

You see…that is why Rosedale is quintessential KCK: it is geared toward the working man in terms of area, speed and prices. People can geek all out on the kitchy-ness of a BBQ restaurant in a gas station or a place where presidents dine when they visit KC. But Rosedale is authentic and in an unapologetic way that seems to buck what is expected from other BBQ joints that are sprouting up all over the city. They are not into competitions. They are not going to be featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. And yet they still serve food fast at a low cost and continue to bring in a diversity of customers. Whether it’s in the old wooden booths or at the old time counter, Rosedale attracts white working men still in their overalls from a long day of working in various kind of skilled industries, as well as Chicano families who are ordering a slab and a half to go along with a pound of fries (actual terms of the restaurant by the way). It is common to see businessman in button down shirts and slacks rub shoulders with 20-something hipsters in skinny jeans, cleverly designed T-shirts, and bottle-cap glasses. Rosedale attracts the kind of crowd you’d be hard-pressed to see from other BBQ places, and for the most part, they are Kansas City-people, either from KCK or the nearby Westside or Midtown. That kind of customer authenticity is not easily duplicated, and I believe it will be hard to duplicate from other places in the near as well as far-off future.

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When Rosedale BBQ opened in 1934 by Anthony and Alda Rieke and brother in law Tony Sieleman, it was known as the “Bucket Shop” and primarily sold buckets of cold beer and hot dogs. Their catchphrase was “Buy it by the bucket!”. As the story goes, after driving by and smelling the smoke from a BBQ joint in Shawnee, Kansas, they decided to smoke and sell ribs along with beer, and their ribs were so popular that they decided to go into selling BBQ full time as well as beer (hence, dropping the hot dogs from their menu). 82 years later, though the original owners have passed on (the grandchildren of the original owners still apparently have a stake in the place), Rosedale BBQ still sells BBQ and still offers beer by the bucket (though they do sell individual bottles as well), and remain standing in the Rosedale neighborhood and KCK as a pillar of stability despite major changes in the economic and cultural demographics of those respective communities.

And that is a good thing. We hear all this rhetoric about “Making America Great Again” from all kinds of “conservative” Americans, and places like Rosedale not only stand the changes of the times, but embrace and welcome it. These businesses prove how asinine those civic statements are. We don’t need to make our communities “great again” as if we need to recapture some lost magic from 30-40 years ago when America was supposedly “better”. America is already great, our communities are great, and we just need to adjust through minor setbacks and issues to continue to make it great. Take in the new, and mix it with the old and make something fresh, but timeless. Rosedale’s certainly accomplishes that in my opinion in the BBQ industry not just in the KCK area.

A couple of months ago, I volunteered at a nursing home right off the Plaza through work. I met with an African-American lady named Alice in her early 80’s and as she sat down, I took a knee next to her since there were no more seats available. As I asked her about where she was from and where she grew up in Kansas City, she told me she was born in Kansas City, Kansas and grew up in the Rosedale neighborhood and went to school all the way through high school there (when apparently there was a Rosedale High School). As we talked a bit more about the Rosedale neighborhood, I asked her if her and her family had ever gone to Rosedale BBQ.

She laughed and paused for a few seconds before she answered my question:

“Oh yes! BUY IT BY THE BUCKET!”