Doug Christie had a lengthy NBA career that included stops in seven cities.
Only one felt like home right away.
“A kid that had ups and downs in the NBA, and was trying to find himself in all my journeys, led me to Sacramento,” Christie said. “When I got there, they accepted me wholeheartedly. It was like family immediately, from the community to the fans and them appreciating what you do on a night-to-night basis on the floor, it was just an instant synergy.”
His connection with the Kings community will now become even closer, as he’ll make regular appearances in fans’ living rooms.
The former Kings guard will be the color analyst for the team’s broadcasts on NBC Sports California this season alongside longtime play-by-play announcer Grant Napear. Christie is taking over the role Jerry Reynolds held for the last 20 NBA seasons.
Reynolds announced at the end of last season that he would no longer be in the role full-time, but he’s not retiring. He’ll do 10 games with Napear at Golden 1 Center while joining the pre- and postgame shows for the other 31 home contests.
“It was time,” Reynolds said. “The travel was not any fun for me anymore. I’d just rather be home.”
Christie said speaking with Napear and Reynolds, along with some producers, got the wheels turning on taking on the TV role full-time.
“When I got the radio job initially, that got my mind around this side of things, because (broadcasting) is different than playing,” Christie said. “Once I started getting some good feedback, I started studying, whether it was talking to Grant or Jerry ... they were the first ones that gave me that juice that this might be something I could do. When I first jumped on, I was all in.”
Preparation and perspective
The broadcast partners already have a rapport from doing “The Grant Napear Show with Doug Christie” radio program for a few years, but Christie says preparation for the two mediums is different.
“For radio, we don’t talk (before the show),” he said. “It’s the spontaneity that makes it a lot of fun for me and hopefully for the listeners. It’s the ability to have fun, see what we see in front of us and just talk about it
“When it comes to television, I prepare once I see Grant. If I have any questions for him, I ask and he’s been so gracious to help me.”
Napear and Christie have worked on 10 TV broadcasts for each of the last two seasons to prepare for this transition. Napear said he has an “excellent chemistry” with Christie. They see each other almost every day, so they’re able to discuss every aspect of their jobs, he said.
Napear praised the hard work Christie puts in to make each program a success.
“The guy comes in every single day with notes and wants to know what we’re going to talk about so he can research it,” Napear said. “I can’t begin to tell you how nice it is knowing I’m going to be on the air with a guy who’s prepared.
“There are some former coaches and former athletes around the league who feel that because they played the game that they can just show up. ... Doug isn’t like that. He doesn’t want to be good, he wants to be great.”
Reynolds appreciates the perspective Christie brings to the table as a former NBA player.
“I probably looked at it from a coach’s standpoint,” said Reynolds, who led the Kings for 170 games from 1987-90. “I think the fans will love him. I’m sure they do already.”
Christie averaged 11.2 points in an 827-game career that spanned 15 seasons and seven teams.
But scoring isn’t the only way to be noticed on the hardwood, and he proved that in Sacramento.
Acquired in a trade before the 2000-01 season that sent Corliss Williamson to the Toronto Raptors, Christie spent 4 1/2 seasons with the Kings. He was known for his defense on a squad Sports Illustrated magazine called the “Greatest Show on the Court” because of its high scoring and flashy play.
Christie was an NBA All-Defensive Team selection in his first four seasons with Sacramento, including first team in 2002-03.
His run with the Kings ended Jan. 10, 2005 — when he was traded to the Orlando Magic for Cuttino Mobley and seldom-used Michael Bradley — and he retired after the 2006-07 season.
‘You can freakin’ forget about that’
When Christie and Napear begin their television run, it will be the first time since 1998 that Reynolds isn’t the full-time color analyst.
Reynolds said he wasn’t consulted on his replacement, but he’s very happy with who was chosen.
“I was in favor of (Christie),” Reynolds said. “I can’t honestly say they would take my advice or cared, not that they should, but I thought he was the perfect guy. He’s good at it, he works hard and he’s a basketball junkie ... who loves the game like I do.”
Christie doesn’t plan to emulate Reynolds’ knack for fun phrases and nicknames. He did talk about one name he came up with: “Skalifornia” for third-year forward Skal Labissiere, but he says that’s Reynolds’ thing.
Reynolds called Christie a “natural” for the job and expects the transition to be smooth.
“It’s not like he has any big shoes to fill,” Reynolds said. “I think he’ll step in quite comfortably.”
Christie disagrees with part of that.
“Nobody is Jerry Reynolds, you can freakin’ forget about that!” he said. “It’s a humbling honor to follow in his iconic footsteps, and that’s what I consider Jerry to be: an icon.”
Reynolds’ longtime partner agreed, but also had some complimentary words about Christie.
“There’s never going to be another Jerry Reynolds. Jerry is Mr. Sacramento,” Napear said. “But Doug also has a tremendous fan base in this community and he is very well liked by most, if not all, Kings fans and the people in this area.
“It’s a new chapter in Kings television, but it’s not new ... because people already know me and they’ve known Doug for almost 20 years. I’m really excited about it.”
Christie and Napear have their work cut out for them. The Kings haven’t made the playoffs in 12 years, the NBA’s longest current drought. National prognosticators don’t expect the Kings to end that run in 2018-19.
Through it all, though, Christie said the loyalty in California’s capital city is unmatched and he’s proud to call Sacramento home.
“I always appreciate Sacramento Kings fans because of the passion,” Christie said. “We get to see a lot of different arenas and fan bases, and ours is special. I’m just excited to be a part of it.”