Milenko Divac, the father of former Kings center Vlade Divac, died in a car crash Tuesday in Cacak, Serbia. He was 77.
Vlade Divac’s mother, Radmila, was also in the crash but is expected to survive, according to reports from Serbia.
The car reportedly hit a light pole before going off the road and rolling several times. It wasn’t clear who was driving.
Divac said via his Twitter account: “Thank you everyone for your condolences and support.”
Divac played for the Kings from 1998 to 2004 and is one of the most beloved players in Sacramento history. He is one of three Sacramento players to have his jersey retired by the franchise. His No. 21 hangs in the rafters at Sleep Train Arena with Mitch Richmond’s No. 2 and Chris Webber’s No. 4.
Divac and Webber were the catalysts behind the most successful era of Sacramento basketball, which included a trip to the 2002 Western Conference finals.
Divac was a first-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1989. The happenings in his homeland were always on his mind.
“The thing I remember the most about his parents is when they were having the war out there and Vlade would be trying to call his parents before and after games to make sure they were OK,” Kings television play-by-play announcer Grant Napear said. “It was such a troubling time because the bombings over in that part of the world were so frequent. I remember him in the back room in (director of sports medicine) Pete Youngman’s office trying to always get on the phone to see if they were OK and watching all the news accounts.”
Napear also visited Serbia in 2007 when the country held festivities to honor Divac.
“I had a chance to be over in his hometown when we toured Serbia with him and he was like most people: He was unbelievably close with his parents,” Napear said. “It’s tragic; it’s devastating for him to get the call like that. I can’t even imagine what he’s going through.”
Divac is currently the head of the Serbian Olympic Committee.
Moving rights – When Cleveland traded Andrew Bynum and draft picks to Chicago for Luol Deng, one of the picks was a conditional first-round pick from Sacramento.
That pick is from a 2011 trade in which the Cavaliers acquired the rights to the pick along with Omri Casspi for J.J. Hickson.
The pick is top-12 protected for the Kings in 2014 and top-10 protected from 2015 to 2017. If Chicago does not receive a first-round pick from the Kings by 2017, the Bulls would receive a second-round pick.
The Kings entered Tuesday’s game against Portland with the fourth-worst record in the NBA. At that pace, the worst the Kings could finish in the draft lottery would be seventh, if three teams with better records moved ahead of them in the lottery.