Sacramento Kings

‘Scary moment:’ Airplane carrying members of Kings organization struck by lightning

An airplane carrying Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, general manager Vlade Divac and other members of the organization was struck by lightning Sunday as the team made its way back to the United States following a historic trip to India.

Marc Spears, an NBA writer for ESPN’s The Undefeated, tweeted that a Boeing 767 transporting members of the Kings organization was hit by lightning before landing in England to refuel en route to Sacramento. The plane was also carrying several media representatives, including Kings play-by-play announcer Grant Napear, Kings color commentator Doug Christie, Spears and Sam Amick of The Athletic.

“Scary moment as Kings private jet hit by lightning before landing for layover in England in return home from India trip,” Spears tweeted. “Don’t worry @drake fans, it wasn’t the rapper’s plane the players and coaching staff is using.”

Kings players and coaches were traveling separately aboard “Air Drake,” an upgraded Boeing 767 owned by Grammy Award-winning musician Drake. The plane that was struck was recently used to transport Team USA overseas for the FIBA World Cup.

Kings senior vice president of communications Joelle Terry was aboard the plane that was hit by lightning. She told The Sacramento Bee everyone was safe.

“When we landed the airplane underwent inspection,” she said. “No damage was found and we have been cleared for takeoff.”

Amick tweeted that the lightning strike was unnerving for most of the plane’s passengers, but not longtime Kings radio announcer Gary Gerould.

Amick tweeted: “Everyone but @ggerould was shook (yours truly included). ‘Nothing to worry about, boys,’ G-Man says.”

In a subsequent text message, Amick told The Bee: “It’s all good man. Just spooked us a bit but apparently it happens all the time.”

Napear seemed to take the lightning strike in stride, but he couldn’t say the same for Christie, his broadcast partner.

“BTW we were struck by lightning on our approach,” Napear tweeted. “I loved it! @TheDougChristie not so much!”

The Kings traveled to India to play two preseason games against the Indiana Pacers in Mumbai, where Ranadive grew up before coming to the United States at age 17. This marked the first time the NBA or any other North American sports league has held games in India.

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Jason Anderson is an award-winning sportswriter for The Sacramento Bee. He started his journalism career at The Bee more than 20 years ago and returned to cover the Sacramento Kings in September 2018.
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