Hello, friends. My name is Ted, and I don't often write on this site; rather, I typically write on this one. Come by and see me sometime. I crave acceptance.
It's a lazy Hump Day here in my living room, consisting of me mindlessly cruising the Internet, sipping a Corona Light, and marveling over the fact that I had vegetarian Indian food for dinner... and liked it. Meanwhile, the NESN telecast of Red Sox vs. Mariners is on a low hum in the background. The game was supposed to be a showcase of Japanese superstars in Dice K and Ichiro (and to a lesser extent, that Mariners catcher).
Instead, a funny thing happened on the way to the multi-national flashbulb convergence: Felix Hernandez - "King" Felix, mind you - had other plans. He tossed a complete game one hitter to stifle one of the better offenses (and teams) in baseball, one day after they hung a 14-3 whupping on his Pacific Northwest crew. Hernandez, who is about 1/4 of the age of Julio Franco, has had a good season thus far (there ain't much else on the Mariners): he K'ed 12 on Opening Day, and now this.
So, it got me thinking: who is the best - most worthwhile, let's say - "King" in sports?
King James: The obvious contender, LeBron James actually made his NBA debut against the Sacramento Kings, in what had to be some type of sign from whatever religious deity you happen to believe in. He did well, and uh, he's continued to do so. He's even got the whole MJ "Can't solve the Pistons early in his career, even though he elevated his team already to the level of challenging them" thing going on. It's almost too cute to watch. His dunks are breath-taking, his shoddy defense is defendable by pundits until it reaches a breaking point, and he's the most marketable cat in the entire world, sans MJ himself. He might just be the most worthy of his "King" nickname.
The Kings themselves: No, no, no. I'm not talking about the Los Angeles Kings. The last time they were relevant, so was Marty McSorley, and Wayne Gretzky was doing more than whispering sweet nothings (and horse racing tips) in his wife's ear. I'm talking about the early millenium Sacramento Kings (or the "Queens" as Shaq might say), who re-energized Arco Arena behind a dynamic pass and pass and pass and shoot offense led by Webber, Peja, and the rapidly-approaching-career-shark-jumping Bibby. Ahmad Rahad opened a Western Conference playoff game in 2002, screaming over an image of rabid fans in Sac-Town, "The Kings have single handedly made basketball fun again." Well, uh, I think Kobe and Shaq helped too, but the Kings were certainly fun to watch - the Blazers, but ten years later, and with a better PF (sorry, Buck). The fact that they never actually got over the hump kind of hurts them here.
King Kong Bundy: In an era when the immobile fat ass was king for Vince McMahon, King Kong Bundy had a good run. He main-evented 1/3 of WrestleMania II (that was the weird 'Mania broadcast from three locations), taking on Hulk Hogan in a steel cage match, which he invariably lost. He had the classically entertaining Bobby Heenan as his mouthpiece, and later in his career, when he returned to the WWE, he got a big match with Undertaker at WrestleMania XI (he lost that one too) and had DiBiase as his moto-mouth. He weighed about 450 pounds in his heyday, and went at it with Andre the Giant too. He existed in an era for wrestling when girth meant everything, and your ability to sell a storyline was secondary. You sneak attacked a babyface, they got hurt, and they came back and beat your ass. He didn't have much to work with, but he was a spectacle. You gotta at least include the brother, no?
Macho King Randy Savage: In the same vein, Randy Savage was the "Macho King," although it should be noted he only used this moniker for a very specific period of his career. He defeated potentially retarded Hacksaw Jim Duggan for some Burger King style crown he wore around, and then proclaimed himself "The Macho King." This led to his mixed-gender feuds with Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire, and later the incredibly intense battles with Ultimate Warrior. The peak of Savage's career, though, was probably the WrestleMania IV era, when he won the tournament to grab his first World Heavyweight Title. During his "Macho King" days, he was a jackass with an ugly valet. I can't rank him that highly; his WCW days were seemingly even better.
Rex Hudler: Rex means King, no? Hudler was the ultimate utility man (sorry, Bip) in the 1980s and early 1990s, and is now a fairly sweet commentator for the Angels. Much as he was called "Wonder Dog" and also "Worm Eater" (for his penchant for downing worms as a delicacy in Japanese ball clubhouse), he loves to dish out the generic nickname, calling John Lackey "Big John," for example. Rex was Lenny Dystrka, with less flair and on the west coast, before it was truly cool to be Lenny Dystrka (I loved Dystrka with the Mets, but I think he reached his "sweetness peak" with those early 1990s Phillies teams). He rates high amongst my kings.
Henrik Lundqvist: I just read, via Google, that some people call him "King Henrik." That's laughable. The Thrashers will red light this guy into Swedish obscurity. He is Swedish, right?
Arnold Palmer: This is a more generic nickname, although I have a sneaking suspiscion Palmer has probably asked a hooker somewhere during his career to call him "Golden Bear," just to see how it sounds. Palmer won a ton of events, was golf's first TV star, and has things - tournaments, awards, etc - named after him, which is the ultimate nod to you within a sport you competed in. He's definitely a worthwhile King.
My take right now? Palmer at the 1 slot, James at the 2, Sacramento circa '02 at the 3, Rex Hudler somewhere beyond that, King Felix coming up on the outside (can you imagine if this guy gets big money from a major market in a few years? He could either combust like Gooden or take off like Koufax, only with a longer, and ostensibly less Jewish, career), and Lundqvist way back on the Q.
Your take, now? I am sure I missed a crapload of people, including a bunch of figure skaters and European-born race car drivers I wouldn't know if they busted in my house right now doing the Macarena (which might be the most interesting that's happened to me in weeks).