By Mardeio Cannon | OBSERVER Correspondent

At the start of the 2022-23 NBA season, most so-called experts acknowledged that the Sacramento Kings had improved their roster during the offseason. However, they were picked by most experts to compete for the play-in game, not the playoffs. Las Vegas had the Kings winning 33 games for the entire season!

In his first year as Kings coach, Mike Brown had different goals. He started by announcing to all that he was going to change the “culture.” He drafted a contract called “ALL IN” and had everyone in the organization sign it, from owner Vivek Ranadive to management to all the players. Then he hired top-notch assistants and empowered them to do their jobs.

The only three players added to the roster were Kevin Huerter via trade from the Atlanta Hawks, Malik Monk via free agency and first-round pick Keegan Murray from Iowa.

Brown established a level of tough love and accountability that fans noticed from the beginning. He called timeouts a minute into games if he was not happy about the Kings’ play.

The Kings lost their first four games, but since have shocked the basketball world with their incredible season.

At the time of this writing, the Kings had clinched the Pacific Division over the L.A. Lakers (LeBron, AD), Phoenix Suns (Devin Booker, Ken Durant, Chris Paul) Golden State (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green) and the L.A. Clippers (Kawhi Leonard, Paul George). It’s likely every Pacific Division team will make the playoffs, making the Kings winning the division more impressive.

The Kings are essentially locked into the Western Conference’s third seed for the upcoming playoffs, with an outside shot of overtaking Memphis for the No. 2 seed. Did I say “playoffs” and “the Kings” in the same sentence?!

They also can reach 50 wins for only the sixth time in the Sacramento era, which began in the 1985-86 season.

Their outstanding season has brought sellout crowds to Golden One Center in anticipation of lighting “the beam” after each win.

Let’s hope that the magic of this season continues for years to come.

That Pesky Double Standard

Congrats to the LSU Tigers for winning the NCAA women’s basketball championship before the largest television audience in history this past Sunday. However, their victory celebration was marred by all the hate and vitriol directed at LSU star Angel Reese for her hand gesture in front of Iowa’s superstar talent Caitlin Clark during the closing minutes. There were no negative comments when Clark did the same thing in an earlier game. This goes to show you that the racial reaction always depends on the color of your skin. We still have a long way to go in this country dealing with equality.