Monday, May 2, 2011

Agitated and unhinged, Joe Maloof is a man in true denial mode

If there's one thing we've discovered through this entire relocation saga, it's this:  Both the fans and the Maloofs have been put through a meat grinder.

We've seen over the past months how the fans have reacted -- with creativity, enthusiasm and verve.

But we hadn't seen the toll on the Maloofs until Monday.  Specifically, until Monday afternoon when Sacramento Kings owner Joe Maloof was interviewed on KHTK's Grant Napear show.

It was disturbing, to say the least.

Maloof was clearly agitated and out-of-breath.  Maybe even severely sleep deprived.  You could almost feel his sweat coming through the radio. He seemed defensive, annoyed and downright frayed.  An image of Gary Busey comes to mind. He said all the right things, but the subtext was palpable.  He was a man done wrong.

Joe Maloof denied his family was in financial trouble.  He denied the league forced him to stay in Sacramento.   In fact, he denied the return to Sacramento was anything but  his family's idea.

Yes, this was a man in real denial.

And I didn't believe a word of it.

He sounded especially unhinged when talking about a seat snafu in the final game of the season when Lakers fans were seated in the customary Maloof seats.  Joe huffed and puffed, sputtered and disavowed any knowledge of the incident.

His voice rose and fell as he tried to put his thoughts together.  He vowed to spend money on free agents and compete, but it wasn't clear where all this new money was coming from.

By the time the interview was over, I could imagine Joe collapsing on the floor in a puddle.

In the end, it doesn't much matter what brought the team back to Sacramento.  They are here and the city gets one last shot.

But whether Joe Maloof can last another year without puncturing a blood vessel in his brain is another story.

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