LeBron James returns to where it all began: Sacramento

LeBron James returns to where it all began: Sacramento

SACRAMENTO -- Where it all began. Sacramento holds a special place in the heart of LeBron James. The sure-fire Hall of Fame forward began his career October 29, 2003 at Arco Arena and what a start it was.

“It’s always special when I come back to Sac, just knowing this is the start of it all - my first game as a professional,” James said before Cleveland took the floor for shootaround Friday morning. “It’s always got an attachment to me, just being here and playing.”

In a preview of the greatness to come, James scored 25 points, dished out nine assists, grabbed six rebounds and snared four steals in 42 minutes of action in that first game. Not a bad debut for a young man who had just finished his senior year in highschool.

The Cavs make just one stop a year in Sacramento, so this is the first time James is getting a look at the new Golden 1 Center. The nostalgia of coming back to Sacramento has changed with the new building, but the superstar forward still enjoys the experience.

“It’s going to be a little bit different because of the new arena, but in the past 13-years, I’ve always reflected coming out of the tunnel and playing,” James told a sea of reporters. “Just coming here as an 18-year-old kid and starting my journey, so there’s a lot of reflection.”

James fielded questions for over eight minutes, but the theme of the day kept coming back to that first game as a pro.

“For me to be in a position where I was putting on a pair of shoes that had my name on them and putting on a jersey that had my family’s name on the back, it was just a moment where anything was possible,” James said. “If you put your heart to it and have a great supporting cast and you put in the work, then things can come true. It was a great moment for me.”

As for the matchup with the Kings, the four-time MVP and three-time NBA Champ had nothing but glowing things to say about Sacramento Kings big man, DeMarcus Cousins.

“It starts with the head of the snake and that’s big Cuz,” James said of the Kings franchise player. “He’s the best big in our game.”

“His ability, not only play in the interior, but he handles the ball extremely well, he’s shooting the three, he gets his guys involved at times too,” James added. “It’s a big challenge for not only our bigs -- Tristan (Thompson), Kev (Love) and Channing (Frye), but for the rest of the team as well. We’ve got to pay a lot of attention to him.”

The Cavs come into Sacramento riding a two-game losing streak with the Golden State Warriors coming up on Monday evening as part of the NBA’s tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. They haven’t played well of late, but the addition of sharpshooter Kyle Korver should help.

According to head coach Tyronn Lue, Iman Shumpert will get the start at the shooting guard spot for only the second time this season, displacing DeAndre Liggins, who has started the last 12 games for the Cavs.

Sneaker Heads...

Word on the street is that James is set to release his new ... old shoe. The four-time league MVP plans to unveil his first retro sneaker, the Nike Zoom Generations 1 and may even take the court in the footwear when he faces the Kings Friday night at Golden 1 Center.

“It’s retro time, it’s time, and I can’t be more proud at this point this point in my life, at this point in my career to know that it all started from right here.” James said while holding up his signature kicks on a video released by the Uninterrupted.

James spoke on the release at shootaround. It’s his favorite shoe that he’s ever put out and he may run with it for a short stint against the Kings before switching out for his standard game gear.

“It was the start of it all, I’m just blessed to be in this position,” James said.  

Kings find themselves in middle of protest as sports, politics collide: 'It has to stop'

Kings find themselves in middle of protest as sports, politics collide: 'It has to stop'

SACRAMENTO -- Basketball took a backseat Thursday evening at Golden 1 Center. Protesters surrounded the Sacramento Kings’ facility, locking arms and blocking the entrance to an estimated 15,000 fans. The game was delayed by nearly 15 minutes and the limited number of ticket holders that made it into the building were basically put on lock down and supplied with free food for the evening.

This issue at hand was the officer involved shooting death of Stephon Clark, a local South Sacramento man that was killed Sunday evening.

Video of the shooting was released by the Sacramento Police Department Wednesday afternoon, setting off community outcry in Sacramento.

In perhaps his finest moment as owner and chairman of the Sacramento Kings, Vivek Ranadivé took center court surrounded by his players to address the undersized crowd.

“On Sunday, we had a horrific, horrific tragedy in our community and on behalf of the players, the executives, ownership and the entire Kings family, I first of all want to express our deepest sympathies to the family. What happened was absolutely horrific and we are so very sorry for your loss.

I also want to say that we at the Kings recognize your people’s ability to protest peacefully and we respect that. We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform. It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously and we stand before you; old, young, black, white, brown and we are all united in our commitment.

We recognize that it’s not just business as usual and we are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting in our own community. We are going to work hard to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”

Protests continued throughout the night in the courtyard adjacent to Golden 1 Center. Security and police stood guard at each entrance, trying to keep the events outside the building from spilling into the team’s two-year-old facility.

The locker room was quiet. Despite the 105-90 victory by the Kings, basketball was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

"I just want to say I 100 percent agree with the protest outside,” Garrett Temple said following the game. “If I didn't have a job to do, I probably would have been out there with them peacefully protesting, because what's going on has to stop. It has to stop.”

Sacramento’s leader behind the scenes, Temple has been active in reaching out in the community and fostering conversation with local youth. He wasn’t able to play in Thursday evening’s game due to a left ankle sprain, but that didn’t stop him from waiting around to field questions.

“I think the protest did what it was supposed to do, it brought a light to what’s going on, I think that’s what protests are for,” Temple added. “After that, something has to change. Us not playing a basketball game isn’t going to change the fact that police unfortunately view black and brown men as a threat, when they are certainly not.”

Temple said that he had viewed the video and admitted that it was dark. A split second decision by a police officer cost Clark, a 22-year-old African American, his life. According to published reports, Clark was holding his mobile phone and not a weapon as officers believed.

The tragic events played out in seconds, but it’s storyline that many communities around the country have had to face on countless occasions.

Temple isn’t one to sit by idly by and bite his tongue. He may have addressed the shooting on his own with or without the protest going on outside the arena. But with the events of the night, politics and sports intersected at 500 David J. Stern Walk, opening a door for Temple to express himself.

“To those that say politics and sports don’t intertwine, this is a democracy, people have a voice and we’re people at the end of the day,” Temple said. “Obviously, sports and politics definitely intertwined tonight. The protesters did what they wanted to do in terms of bring light to the situation.”

In addition to Ranadivé’s comments following then contest, the Kings put out two separate press releases. The first came out around 7 pm to update fans of the current status of the game.

"Tonight's game began with a delay. Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home. We will issue further information soon regarding a refund."

The second press release came later to insure fans that they would receive a refund.

“Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remained closed as tonight’s game proceeded with a delay. In the coming days, guests who purchased tickets for tonight’s game directly through the Sacramento Kings or Ticketmaster will receive detailed instructions to facilitate a full refund.”

The Kings return to the court Sunday afternoon for a 3pm matinee game.

Start of Hawks-Kings game delayed due to protests outside arena

Start of Hawks-Kings game delayed due to protests outside arena

SACRAMENTO -- Giving new meaning to playing under protest, the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks game at Golden 1 Center was delayed 13 minutes Thursday evening due to an actual protest outside the building.

Protesters locked arms in front of the entrance to the building, blocking ticket holders from entering the arena.

The Kings released the following prepared statement.

“Tonight’s game began with a delay. Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home. We will issue further information soon regarding a refund.”

Minutes before the 7:10 game start time, the Kings invited what few fans made their way into the building to sit in the lower bowl. A couple of thousand fans moved as close to the court as possible, while the doors remained closed to the outside.

The protest stems from the release of police body cam footage of the officer involved shooting death of South Sacramento resident, Stephon Clark, on Sunday evening. The video was released on Wednesday.

As of 8pm PST, the Golden 1 Center remains surrounded by protesters with security and police officers stationed insider every entrance and exit door.