In what could have been his final NBA visit to California's Capital City, a bitter rival tips his cap to Sacramento.
In 15 NBA seasons, Derek Fisher has played in a number of monstrous competitions throughout his career. Last night's 116-108 overtime win in Sacramento versus the Kings may have ranked among some of his best.
"The type of passion and enthusiasm that was in here tonight," the Los Angeles Lakers guard began. "I can't remember a time where it wasn't that way."
The faithful at the arena formerly known as Arco made yesterday evening's game feel more like 2001 than 2011. A capacity crowd came out in full force to support the Kings in what could've been the franchise's last hurrah in Sacramento.
The atmosphere gave the Lakers guard a chance to get a bit nostalgic about a building that has bled black and purple over the last 26 years.
"I just think that every time you played here," Fisher began. "You knew who you were playing against. These fans came to the games to cheer for the Kings."
And they roared last night, just like they did in years past. Even after the final buzzer, close to 2,000 Kings fans stayed, making their presence known and extending what could've been pro basketball's final night in the Capital City.
Only fitting that Fisher's Lakers were in town to bear the brunt of it.
"They didn't mince words," Fisher said with a smile of Kings diehards in Sacramento. "They said what was on their mind. You know, we had a lot of fun coming in here and playing against these guys."
If the Maloofs file for relocation before or on next Monday's deadline, Fisher doesn't believe the fans will go down quietly. And with grassroot efforts like Here We Stay and Here We Build working to prove that, the Lakers veteran has a point.
"I don't think the fight and spirit of this community will allow the Kings to leave and have that be the final story." Fisher said reflectively.
Throughout their 26-year run, Kings fans have displayed a passion and fervor for their team unlike any other small market city. Moving to Anaheim would give Kings ownership the luxury boxes, corporate sponsors and massive television audience to perhaps turn around the team's sinking value. But is there a guarantee that viability and success can come in a region with existing NBA franchises?
"I don't know," said Fisher when asked about the potential oversaturation of his Los Angeles market. "That's a tough question to answer.
"You know it's an interesting time in our country right now," he added. "I think we have to be careful about being presumptuous about either the success or failure of teams just because of the city they're located in. I think there are a lot of variables that go into it."