Lemonade Boys' legacy lives on at Golden 1 Center

James Ham

Lemonade Boys' legacy lives on at Golden 1 Center

SACRAMENTO -- It was summer 2011 and the NBA lockout was in full swing. As part of the filming for the documentary Small Market, Big Heart, we took a small camera to a Sacramento suburb to capture one of the many grassroots movements trying to keep the Kings in town. But this one was different.

You could see the poster boards from blocks away. As you got closer, you could see the exuberance of youth on full display. Boys, not more than 9 or 10 years old, running up and down the street waving signs at every passing car. It wasn’t just a lemonade stand, it was an experience. It was Kids for Kings.

No longer elementary school students, Gill, Wyatt, Jack and Ron, are still known around Sacramento as the Lemonade Boys. It’s a badge that they wear proudly. In the fight to save the Sacramento Kings from relocation, these boys, like so many others in the Capital City, found a voice selling lemonade to passing cars with the proceeds earmarked for a new downtown arena.

On Monday evening before the Kings took the floor for their first ever preseason game at the Golden 1 Center, a special dedication was made outside in the courtyard. Planted along the pathway of David J. Stern drive is a living monument to a group of kids who worked tirelessly to earn money to go toward the building they proudly stood in front of for a photo opp.

In one of the more pointed gestures of appreciation the Kings could possibly have made, a lemon tree, along with a placard, was planted in their honor just outside the main entrance.

“I think it’s amazing and I’m very thankful for it,” Gil, now a freshman at a local Sacramento-area high school said. “I’m glad to be remembered.”

“It’s going to be awesome,” Jack, also a freshman, chimed in.

It’s a simple, yet powerful message. The tree will grow as the boys become men. It will live as a constant reminder of the power of community and how even the youngest of its members can make a substantial contribution.

“I think the tree is really cool and it has that symbolic, like, lasting impact of how our small effort - it started out as nothing, but it grew to become this big deal,” said Ron, the oldest of the group. “Now (the team) is staying here in Sacramento, where its home is and that’s really cool.”

The end total raised by the Lemonade Boys at their weekend venture was less than a thousand dollars. In the grand scheme of building a $534 million arena, it wouldn’t have even paid for a single row of seats, but non-monetary value of their contribution is immeasurable.

Like other Sacramento-based grassroots organizations that fought to spread the fans’ message - Here We Stay, Here We Build, Playing to Win and Crown Downtown, the Lemonade Boys successfully put a face on a city that had lost its sports identity under the tremendous failure of its ownership group.

So many average citizens put their lives on hold in the fight to keep Sacramento’s lone professional franchise in town. The overwhelming support of the people helped create powerful political capital, which Kevin Johnson and David Stern used to help propel them in the fight to keep the Kings from bolting.

The Kings plan to put a lemonade stand in front of the Golden 1 Center with proceeds going toward their youth initiative programs. With any luck, the lemon tree in the courtyard will grow and bear fruit, continuing the legacy of an incredible group of young men.

Vince Carter 'very humbled' to pass Patrick Ewing on all-time scoring list

Vince Carter 'very humbled' to pass Patrick Ewing on all-time scoring list

SACRAMENTO -- Half man, half amazing. Vincanity. Air-Canada. V.C.

Vince Carter has plenty of nicknames on his bio. He also has plenty of achievements over his long NBA career. On Monday night in Sacramento, he added a new one.  

With his seven point performance in the Kings’ 106-90 loss to the Detroit Pistons, the 41-year-old forward surpassed a former teammate on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

“It means a lot, because in my days in Orlando, I played with Pat Ewing and know him very well,” Carter said following the game.

Carter came into the night needing five points to tie Ewing’s 24,815 mark for 22nd place on the all-time scoring list.

In the early second quarter, Carter stole a pass from Andre Drummond at the top of the key  and flew down for a breakaway jam to move within three points of Ewing.

“It’s fun for everyone, just to show I can still do it,” Carter said of the dunk. “I think I’ve proven I can, but it’s still fun. I told James Ennis on the way, I said, ‘stay back, don’t foul me.’”

Ennis likely couldn’t have caught Carter either way, but the slam got the Kings crowd going.

At the 4:12 mark of the second, Carter drilled a 12-footer to move within one point of Ewing and with 29.5 seconds remaining in the third, Carter knocked down a 26-foot 3-pointer that rattled around and tried to spin out.

That was the last bucket of the evening for Carter, giving him 24,817 for his 20-year career. He now sits alone in 22nd place, two points ahead of the former New York Knicks star center.

“That’s crazy,” 20-year-old De’Aaron Fox said. “That’s a lot of buckets. Top-25, that’s huge - a lot of guys won’t get close to that.”

Carter now sits just 375 points behind legendary Laker, Jerry West for 21st place and 462 shy of Reggie Miller for a spot in the top 20.

“When you talk about (being) in the top 25 in scoring all-time, you just look at the list of the greats and elite players and the best of the best that still play, and to be in that group, I’m very humbled and thankful for it,” Carter told the media scrum surrounding his locker.

Carter was away from the team over the weekend dealing with a death in the family. He returned to Sacramento to play on Monday, but did so with a heavy heart.

For most of his life, the basketball court has been his place to escape. After two decades as a pro, it still has that effect.

“I just still love it, it’s been great to me, it gives me an opportunity to be around the younger generation and still be around the game I love and accomplish things like this,” Carter said.

He’s played sparingly for Sacramento this season, but his impact on the bench, in practice and behind the scenes as a leader and mentor to the young Kings has been immeasurable.

Carter hasn’t committed to retiring following the season. He will weigh his options, but there is a possibly he will look for one last run at an NBA championship.

Carter passes Ewing on all-time scoring list


Carter passes Ewing on all-time scoring list

SACRAMENTO -- Moving on up. Vince Carter came into Monday evening’s matchup against the Detroit Pistons needing just five points to surpass Patrick Ewing for 22nd place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. He got that and a little more.

Carter, 41, picked off a Pistons pass in the second quarter and hammered down a breakaway dunk to score his first two points of the evening. He knocked down a jumper in the lane before halftime to get within one point of Ewing and then moved ahead of the 7-footer with a 3-pointer in the third quarter.

The 20-year NBA veteran now sits at 24,817 points. He is 375 points behind the great Jerry West’s 25,192, who currently sits in 21st place on the all-time list.