1. Rock star Vlade Divac returns:The guy can’t sing a lick – his admission – but when he walked into Sleep Train Arena Friday night to promote the Kings partnership with UNICEF to provide clean water around the world (India and China mentioned specifically), he was given rock star treatment. McCartney? Bono? Pink? Ah, charisma! Fans surrounded Divac on the court before and after the game and crowded around again in the tunnel area after the loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Mason Mastrov, the teenage son of Kings minority owner Mark Mastrov, who always quietly and unobtrusively appears during these historic Kings events, was very much present. The kid seems so unaffected and uninhibited – watch him dance courtside – and is unfailingly polite. And, yes that was him asking Vlade to pose for a photo.
2. Divac applauds his multitude of fans: Today is the 15-year anniversary of NATO’s bombing in the former Yugoslavia in an an attempt to oust Milosevic and his regime. Kings fans probably remember a bleary-eyed Divac pulling all-nighters and trying to contact family members and, besides unfailingly granting interviews, summoning the energy to play an NBA schedule. Vlade told me last week he has never forgotten how the Sacramento community embraced him and supported his children’s foundation. In a Christmas toy drive for youngsters in the Balkans a few months later, Divac and Peja Stojakovic offered to sign autographs for anyone who brought wrapped presents to the old Tower Records in Carmichael. I drove there to check out the turnout and was stunned. The line wrapped around the building and into the parking lot, with people carrying bags and toys, some filling shopping baskets. One of the clerks who worked in our sports department – she was a Kings fanatic – stood in line with her mother for 31/2.
3. Being stubborn has it advantages: Stanford reserve and former Sacramento Country Day standout Robbie Lemons was a walk-on for three of his four seasons. Though his playing time has been inconsistent, he made two critical free throws in the Cardinal’s victory over New Mexico in the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008. Lemons also was on the court for the final possessions of Sunday’s upset of Kansas.
4. NBA guards apparently make pretty good college coaches: Five coaches in the Sweet 16 played in the NBA with varying degrees of success: Stanford’s Johnny Dawkins, UCLA’s Steve Alford, Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg, Virginia’s Tony Bennett and Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie. Dawkins’ Cardinal eliminated his longtime buddy Craig Neal of New Mexico – known as “Noodles” back in the day.
5. So, the Bay Area’s latest NFL quarterback duel features Colin Kaepernick vs. Matt Schaub: Um, I dunno, but after watching the Seattle Seahawks mummify Peyton Manning, I’m siding with young, athletic, mobile quarterbacks, especially those with powerful arms, spontaneous legs and the time to develop a personality. A sense of humor? A hint of a sense of humor? When he comes up with the cure for cancer, Kaepernick can be as prickly as he chooses. Until then, a little warmth would do wonders for his image.