Kings notes: Popovich has long been in Malone’s corner

Published: Friday, Mar. 21, 2014 - 9:11 pm
Last Modified: Saturday, Mar. 22, 2014 - 12:01 am

A job recommendation from someone highly respected in your profession is always welcomed.

That’s one reason Kings coach Michael Malone will always have a lot of respect for San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich.

Popovich, who is known to offer witty answers, has his own idea why Malone might think highly of him.

“He liked the wine that I bought and the dinner,” Popovich said. “Of course I paid for the dinner, he didn’t pay for anything.”

That was years ago, when Malone was trying to break into the NBA as a coach and Popovich spoke highly of Malone to teams.

Malone eventually landed his first NBA job in 2001 with the New York Knicks. Prior to that, all of Malone’s coaching experience had been at the college level.

“He’s a people person,” Popovich said of Malone. “He’s somebody that I felt players would really respect. He had a toughness about him. A fairness, but a toughness where I thought he would persevere in all kinds of situations.”

Popovich saw Malone had the mental toughness to deal with the rigors of being an NBA coach, too.

“In an NBA season, there’s all kinds of ups and downs, and you have to be able to roll with all of them,” Popovich said. “I just thought he had that edge, that toughness and the obvious sense for the game and that he could be successful. That’s why I went to bat for him.”

Injury update – Kings forward Quincy Acy sat out Friday’s game with a sprained right ankle. Acy is listed as day-to-day.

That left Derrick Williams as the primary backup power forward along with Jason Thompson, who also plays backup minutes at center.

The Kings are already without power forward Carl Landry, out for the season after knee surgery on Thursday.

Reggie Evans started at power forward for the fourth consecutive game to match up with the size of San Antonio’s Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter.

Charitable appearance – Former Kings center Vlade Divac received the loudest ovation of the night when he was introduced during a timeout in the first quarter of Friday’s game against San Antonio at Sleep Train Arena.

Divac was sitting courtside next to Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive.

Divac, one of three Kings from the Sacramento era with his number retired, was at the game as part of his work with UNICEF.

The Kings have partnered with U.S. Fund for UNICEF to help provide children with access to clean water.

The campaign runs through March, which is World Water Month.

Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at

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