Yesterday, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the first two weeks of the NBA season were cancelled due to the ongoing labor dispute that does not seem to have an end in sight. But with every negative comes a positive and should the NBA do the unthinkable and cancel their entire 2011-12 season, that would mean that the Los Angeles Kings would be front-and-center of the city’s sports scene for the first time since Wayne Gretzsky’s arrival in 1988.
Although I’m not much of a basketball fan, I wouldn’t want to see the NBA season lost. However, with all the success the Lakers have had not only recently but over the last fifteen years, it would be nice if the Kings spent some time in the limelight. Even the hapless Clippers have turned a corner with Blake Griffin. So, if there were an NBA season, the Kings would not only have to share the popularity with both the Lakers and the Clippers, they’d have to share their arena too.
Right now, the timing couldn’t be much better for the Los Angeles Kings. After years of unsuccessful rebuilding, they’ve finally hit a good spot and are on the rise and, for the first time since the Gretzky era, talk of a championship has been associated with this team on a semi-regular basis. As a matter of fact, before Drew Doughty re-signed, the Kings were 16-to-1 favourites to win the Stanley Cup this season. Since then, they have been upgraded to 5-to-1. That alone should tell you just how serious everyone is treating the Los Angeles Kings.
With the baseball season over, no one is talking about the Dodgers or the Angels. USC’s football program is still under probation so, regardless how well they do on the field, it won’t mean anything for the next few years. USC, UCLA and even Pepperdine’s basketball programs should get some attention in February when they prepare for March Madness but that won’t be for a while. The city of Los Angeles has even been without a credible professional football team in 16 years. I say “credible” because there was that one season a decade ago when Los Angeles had the XFL’s Xtreme. I mean sure, they won the Million Dollar Game but doesn’t that pale in comparison to the Stanley Cup? Just a tad.
So, with all that said, the time is now for the Los Angeles Kings. Billboards of the team are posted all over the city in anticipation of the new hockey season and the Kings will do their best to bring their city a championship.
After years of taking a back seat to the aforementioned Lakers, Dodgers and Trojans, it is now time for the Kings to spend some time at the front of the line. With the unfortunate labor crisis in the LA, there might not be a better time for the Kings to leave their mark in Los Angeles and leave the people of this city wondering where they have been all this time.
Photo: Courtesy of Stephen Dunn/Getty Images