This is the week for Kings center DeMarcus Cousins to spit-shine his sneakers, fix his tie, brush the dog hair off his jacket, and for once or twice in his life, smile for the camera.

They are big, strong and explosive, and capable of overwhelming opponents with their feet and their arms. Give or take an inch – Cam Newton is 6-foot-5 to Colin Kaepernick’s 6-4 – the quarterbacks in today’s NFC divisional playoff game look forward and stare straight into the other’s eyes.

His presence has both deepened the Kings’ overall talent base and solved a small forward conundrum that vexed the franchise for years

Before his powerful right leg secured the 49ers’ victory Sunday in frigid Green Bay, Texas-raised Phil Dawson was shivering – emotionally speaking – in his boots.

While Charles Smith apparently is having second thoughts about accompanying Dennis Rodman and a handful of former NBA players to Pyongyang, North Korea, for an exhibition game scheduled for Wednesday, Doug Christie didn’t express any such reservations during a brief cell phone conversation with his wife, Jackie.

Former Kings star Vlade Divac’s father killed in auto accident in Serbia

It was in the back of his mind, this hunch that he could become one of the best linebackers in the NFL. Penn State has churned them out for decades. Why not him? Why not NaVorro Bowman?

Out with the old, in with the new, and guess which NBA franchise didn’t relocate to Seattle? Any conversation about events that transpired in 2013 and developments that might occur in 2014 begins and ends with the team that pulled off the biggest upset of the year: the Kings.

Logan Kilgore? You probably never heard much about him, either. He was the scrawny kid on the sideline, the backup quarterback who cracked jokes, pulled pranks and failed to take a snap in his four seasons at Jesuit High School.

Isaiah Thomas keeps running the same play. He never deviates, never stops to reflect, never asks how a 5-foot-9 youngster from Tacoma, Wash., the last player drafted in 2011, could become the starting point guard for an NBA franchise.

Tyreke Evans says he would have liked to remain a King, but he’s happy for fans that team will remain in Sacramento

Rudy Gay is what you might call a memory tweaker. How long has it been now? Five years? Six years? The last time the Kings had a small forward with anything resembling this type of talent?

It has been almost four years since Urijah Faber competed in his adopted hometown, in a packed, impassioned Arco Arena, and the scars – the ones stitched into memory – still exist.

These new Kings executives don’t fool around, do they?

Frank Gore has been the iron man behind the curtain for so long now, it’s easy to forget about him. He’s not one to complain – not very often, anyway – but he savored the applause Sunday after his game-breaking performance against the Seattle Seahawks.

Jim Harbaugh loves to spice up his weekly news conferences with historical references, not all of which can actually be found in books.

This DeMarcus Cousins/Derrick Rose situation has been blown way out of proportion.

Only a few months ago, Ben McLemore gave up college textbooks for NBA playbooks, eager to pursue a pro career and avoid academic distractions. But these day jobs can be overwhelming, too. Every game is a pop quiz, every practice an adventure, every flight mere hours away. Even throwing down a clean, nasty dunk can be a challenge.

In another life, DeMarcus Cousins might have been an actor. The camera finds him for every one of those dramatic shoves, elbows, frowns, shrieks, head-shaking moments.

Team takes risk on player who hasn’t lived up to No. 2 pick in 2011 draft

Ron Gould isn’t a rookie anymore, no longer the new coach in the neighborhood. The next time he laces his cleats, grabs his clipboard, barks order to his players, he’ll be the second-year coach of the UC Davis Aggies.

Garrett Safron plans to become a firefighter when he grows up, unless, of course, he never grows up.

That overpowering noise in Sleep Train Arena? It isn’t what you think. It isn’t the cowbells. All celebrations and warm and fuzzy feelings aside, it’s the sound of the 2013-14 Kings hitting the ground with a thud.

It's not the end of the world, as Mario Manningham noted, cutting through the doom and gloom of the 49ers' locker room.

Add Atlanta Hawks Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins to the growing list of assorted NBA types who think Kings rookie Ben McLemore is an emerging star.

Everybody wants to blame DeMarcus Cousins for the Kings' mini-slump, of course. He's the biggest target, the most talented player, and since signing his maximum contract extension, he's on the cusp of becoming the wealthiest gentleman in the locker room.

If the NBA played with a crystal ball, Jimmer Fredette probably wears a different uniform next season.

After an altogether crazy night at Sleep Train Arena - there is no sleep after this particular opener - here are a few final thoughts, observations, musings:

This was the Kings' opener of openers, a purple carpet ride for the decades, an evening when the past and future converged on a cleaned-up old barn just north of the city.

David Stern will be in Sacramento tonight because he doesn't want to miss this, either. Encores are rarely this rewarding. Embattled franchises tend to relocate, not move a few miles down the freeway. Professional sports is littered with woe-is-me stories about abandoned communities, squandered opportunities and organizations that cease to exist.

Michael Malone has been around long enough to recite the drill. If the team wins, the head coach is a genius. If the team loses, the head coach is soon to be unemployed.

During their memorable, improbable, frenetic, at times mind-numbing offseason, the Kings as we know them were destroyed in a palace coup. This was a clean and very necessary sweep of the building, a blowtorch taken to an organization in desperate need of a different blueprint.

Back in his native Senegal, Hamady Ndiaye was always the tallest child in class. His first soccer coach took one look at his gangly, weed-thin frame and promptly declared him a goalie. In volleyball, he was a man of many positions; he instinctively roamed the court, extending his arms and massive hands, and blocking every ball within reach.

In an industry that remains very much a grapevine league despite the powerful influences of social media and modern technology, Corliss Williamson has long been regarded as one of the most genuine, no-nonsense people in the business.

Even if he were the strong, silent type, which he is not, Vernon Davis would make you pay attention. Clamoring for better chemistry with his quarterback. Lobbying for more passes. Setting franchise records. Talking about art. Talking about life.

This was the same script, same pitcher, same ending.

Ben McLemore is taking the typical, tentative, rookie steps. He is studying his NBA playbook, participating in individual tutorials, working out, watching film, occasionally even uncovering tricks of the trade.

Greivis Vasquez was never going to be the next great Venezuelan baseball player. He discovered this at a very young age, or right about the time he was handed a glove, positioned in center field and bored out of his mind.

Is Jimmer Fredette a legitimate, evolving NBA player, or a college phenomenon doomed by a skill set that doesn't translate at the major-league level?

Granted, much of the offseason has been devoted to reinventing and reintroducing the Kings to the rest of the world. But what happens when the world – when real royalty – drops in unannounced on the Kings?

On a typical day, and there are few of those anymore, Vivek Ranadive can be found here at TIBCO headquarters, a cluster of two-story office buildings occupied by many of the most ambitious and successful executives in the software industry.

DeMarcus Cousins got what he wanted, which is to say a massive financial commitment from the Kings, coupled with the chance to transform an organization that has been down, been on the verge of relocation, and after a series of dramatic, improbable developments, been given another chance in Sacramento.

Vivek Ranadive, Mark Mastrov, Raj Bhathal, the Jacobs brothers and the zillion other new Kings owners went behind enemy lines and offered shares to one of the best entertainers in the business.

Is there such a thing as a GQ jinx? Growing pains? Too much, too soon? Excessive preseason hype and unreasonable expectations?

Josh Donaldson is being mentioned among the candidates for the MVP and Gold Glove awards, and while he has no realistic shot at one (MVP) and a slim chance at the other (Gold Glove), this shouldn't preclude the A's from throwing a party for their own MVP.

Terrelle Pryor is the show. That's a given. The Raiders have seen more action these past two weeks – newspapers, talk shows, ESPN and highlights – than most salary cap-gutting, rebuilding franchises generate in an entire season.

Terrelle Pryor always wanted to be a quarterback, OK? When coaches and friends, and even NFL analyst Jon Gruden, suggested he switch to tight end or wide receiver, the third-year Raiders quarterback politely but stubbornly shook his head and said, "No thanks."

The Kings introduced Naismith Hall of Fame player Chris Mullin as adviser to owner and chairman Vivek Ranadive on Tuesday morning.

Hmmmmm. Wonder what the Baltimore Ravens are thinking now? That they let one slip away? That they escaped the 49ers in the Super Bowl but might have blown the Anquan Boldin trade?

Colin Kaepernick already has proven to be a rare talent, a physically gifted, cerebral quarterback with so many dimensions that NFL defensive coordinators endured a sleepless offseason.

Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from UNLV and a law degree from the University of San Diego before committing full time to journalism.

Her career includes stops at the San Diego Union, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and time spent as the backup beat writer for Dodgers and Angels, Clippers and NBA beat writer, sports columnist, along with numerous assignments covering international events and the Olympics. Ailene joined The Sacramento Bee in 1997.

Email: avoisin@sacbee.com
Phone: 916-321-1208
Twitter: @ailene_voisin

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