Kings

Count Chris Webber as firm believer in new era of Kings basketball

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Count Chris Webber as firm believer in new era of Kings basketball

The Kings have had quite the presence at NBA All-Star Weekend.

First, De'Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Marvin Bagley III all stood out during the Rising Stars game.

Then Fox participated in the Skills Challenge, falling to eventual runner-up Trae Young.

He was followed by Hield, who took third place in the 3-Point Contest.

It represents just the second time in franchise history that the Kings have had four players participate in events at mAll-Star Weekend. The last time it happened, well, it was a different era of Kings basketball.

In 2002, Chris Webber and Peja Stojakovic were All-Stars, Stojakovic won the 3-Point Contest, Hedo Turkoglu played in the Rising Stars game, and Gerald Wallace competed in the Slam Dunk contest.

That season, of course, finished with a memorable Game 7 loss to the rival Los Angeles Lakers in the 2002 Western Conference finals. The Lakers went on to win the championship that season, and the Kings have never been closer to a title since.

Sacramento entered this All-Star break with a record of 30-27, one game back of the Clippers for the final playoff spot in the West. A new era of Kings basketball has been established, and a prominent member of the former certainly has noticed.

Webber has been in attendance at All-Star Weekend in Charlotte as an analyst for TNT, and in speaking with Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee, he related that he's not surprised by what his former teammate, Kings general manager Vlade Divac, has been able to accomplish.

"Vlade has believed in these guys, especially Fox and Buddy, telling me a long time ago they were going to change the trajectory of the team,” Webber said. “The great part about it as a Sacramento fan is, I know Vlade, he doesn’t just work for the organization, but he is a fan of the city. He wants it to be great, not only on the court but in the community as well.

"And, yeah, he’s going to (turn) it around. He already has. He said, ‘Give me two years.’ He’s done that. Just wait till we give him a little bit more time."

[RELATED: Webber joins 12 others as Basketball Hall of Fame finalist]

Webber has fond memories of his time in Sacramento, particularly of the fan support during the years of playoff contention.

"During that time, I remember that was the most passionate basketball experience, professionally, that I ever witnessed, from the city shutting down for the playoffs to the first playoff series we had (when) J-Will and myself took pizzas out to the fans who were out there tailgating before the games,” Webber said. “From the fans and how passionate they were, to the cowbells to Sign Lady and just everyone there, from the vendors all the way to the owners, you knew it was a feeling of community. Vlade is trying to recapture that."

Sacramento will have plenty of work to do over the final 25 regular-season games, but there's no denying the new era of Kings basketball has impressed that of the old.

NBA rumors: Kings part of plan for 22-team season restart in Orlando

NBA rumors: Kings part of plan for 22-team season restart in Orlando

We're going to Disney World.

That is what more than two-thirds of NBA teams are waking up to Wednesday morning. According to the reporting of both Adrian Wojnarowski from ESPN and The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the NBA has a plan in place to recall 22 teams and get the season going again.

The details still are coming in, but reports suggest that 13 Western Conference teams and another nine from the East will fly to Orlando where they will each play eight games. If after the eight games, the eighth seed has a four-game lead, the league will go straight to the postseason. If not, there will be a play-in format to decide who the eighth seed will be.

All of this is music to the Kings' ears. They currently sit in a virtual tie for ninth place in the Western Conference standings, three-and-a-half games behind the Memphis Grizzlies.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

If NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s plan is ratified Thursday, as expected, the Kings will be part of a group that will battle it out with a chance to snap their 13-season postseason drought.

A handful of players have been at the Kings practice facility for weeks now, working out under stringent rules. They have yet to be cleared for full contact and still have to play on individual courts.

The rest of the team is scattered across the US and eventually will have to make their way back to Sacramento for a training camp followed by a long stay at the Magic Kingdom.

According to reports, the league is scheduled to start up on July 31 with Game 7 of the NBA Finals taking place on October 12.

[RELATED: Can Holmes and Bagley play together on Kings' frontline?]

In addition to the Kings and 16 teams currently in the postseason picture, the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards will join the festivities as the league attempts to restart during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

We will have more on this story as more information becomes available, but it appears that the NBA is on its way back and the Kings are going to be part of the fun.

Kings' Harrison Barnes shares funny origin of 'Black Falcon' nickname

Kings' Harrison Barnes shares funny origin of 'Black Falcon' nickname

If you know Harrison Barnes as "The Black Falcon," the Kings forward is a bit bewildered as to why.

That's what happens when you give yourself a nickname largely as a joke, as Barnes revealed to Howard Beck "The Full 48" podcast last week.

“It was funny, I was a huge Kobe (Bryant) fan, as so many people were, and he was always known as the 'Black Mamba,' " Barnes recalled (H/T Sactown Royalty). (Michael Jordan) was his favorite player, MJ was the Black Cat. So we were in New York my senior year (of high school) getting ready for Elite 24, and I was with (then-ESPN anchors) Mike Hill and Jay Harris, and we were just talking, talking about just different nicknames. We came up with that one, and I was like, 'Oh, okay.' ...

"... So I jokingly said that and when I got to [the University of North Carolina,] like one of my first days on campus, I saw this magazine that was like ‘The Black Falcon’ and it had a picture of me. I was like, 'Oh man, this nickname’s gonna stick for a while,' and it’s been around ever since. I mean, I don’t use it or do much with it, but it’s around.”

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Barnes' nickname was in far more regular rotation during his time with the Warriors, and he told the team website in 2013 he hoped to be nicknamed after an animal a la Bryant and Jordan. The moniker didn't stick around, nor did Barnes stay put with Golden State. He joined the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent in 2016 when the Warriors signed Kevin Durant, and the Mavericks traded Barnes to the Kings ahead of last year's trade deadline.

Sacramento's Twitter account only referred to Barnes as "Black Falcon" once, on the day he officially joined the team.

[RELATED: Barnes wants chance for Kings to make playoffs upon restart]

Barnes also picked up the nickname "The Senator" from Warriors broadcaster Jim Barnett, and he has expressed interest in heading into politics after his playing days are over. Former Warriors teammate asked Andrew Bogut during a Twitter Q&A if "The Black Falcon" moniker would follow him to Capitol Hill.

If the NBA season resumes and the Kings return to the court, the more pressing question is if the nickname will even follow him to Orlando.