With Sleep Train Arena in its final week as the Kings’ home, more and more former players are showing up at games.
Mike Bibby and Brian Grant attended Tuesday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Kings host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday, and several former players will appear at Saturday’s home finale against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Kings honored Bibby with a bobblehead marking his winning shot against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the 2002 Western Conference finals. The victory gave the Kings a 3-2 series lead, but they lost 6 in Los Angeles and Game 7 in Sacamento.
“That’s definitely the best shot of my career,” Bibby said. “I think coming here to Sacramento helped jump-start my career. When I was in Vancouver (where he started his career before being traded to the Kings in 2001), people didn’t know I still played basketball.”
Bibby said one reason he wanted to join the Kings was because as a visiting player, he saw the support from the fans who packed the building, even with his struggling Grizzlies in town.
“You hate to see (Sleep Train) go, but I’ve seen (the new arena) downtown and it’s looking good,” Bibby said.
Grant leads the Brian Grant Foundation, which aims to empower those with Parkinson’s disease. He was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s disease in 2008, when he was 36.
Grant fondly recalls his time with the Kings, who drafted him in the first round in 1994.
I think coming here to Sacramento helped jump-start my career. When I was in Vancouver, people didn’t know I still played basketball.
“It’s where I met my wife. It’s where we started having kids,” he said. “I got out here to Sleep Train – I know it as Arco – I got a little choked up. So many good memories.”
The Kings’ first-round playoff series against the Seattle SuperSonics in 1996 remains a highlight for Grant.
“We came out to all the cowbells, and I’ve never heard an arena so loud,” Grant said. “It was almost scary. Just one of many things about playing here.”
NCAA (Carolina) blues – Kings coach George Karl is a North Carolina graduate, so the ending to Monday’s NCAA championship game was especially disheartening.
Karl liked how the Tar Heels rallied from 10 points down late. But seeing “the balloon being blown up a minute later” by Kris Jenkins’ buzzer-beating three-pointer for Villanova was “depressing.”
It’s where I met my wife. It’s where we started having kids. I got out here to Sleep Train – I know it as Arco – I got a little choked up. So many good memories.
“A lot of personal feelings to Roy (Williams) and the coaching staff,” Karl said. “To be that close and losing that way will linger probably more than if you lost by 20 ... I’m still very proud be a Tar Heel.”
More rest – The Kings sat starting forward Rudy Gay, backup guard Darren Collison and backup center Kosta Koufos for rest Tuesday. They have rested at least one starter in three of the last four games.
Wins actually hurt the Kings’ chances of keeping their first-round draft pick, so sitting players can result in what cynics call a strategic loss. That wasn’t the case Saturday against the Denver Nuggets, but the team will continue to rest players the remainder of the season.
“Personally, I think we get paid to play 82,” Karl said. “That’s not going to change. I’ll laugh – if I expand on that, I’ll get in trouble.”