Justin James, Kyle Guy introduced by Kings, relive draft night emotions

Justin James, Kyle Guy introduced by Kings, relive draft night emotions

SACRAMENTO -- Welcome to the squad.

The Sacramento Kings rolled out the purple carpet Thursday for two of their three second-round draft picks. With their names lit up on the main scoreboard in Golden 1 Center, Justin James and Kyle Guy stood in to field questions from the local media.

Taken with the No. 40 overall selection in the 2019 NBA NBA Draft, James was overwhelmed when he got the call that the Kings were selecting him.

“It was the greatest night of my life, honestly,” James said with a huge smile on his face. “There was just so much build up that whole night. I pretty much knew I was going in the second round, so me and my family were all sitting around the TV. Once I finally heard my name, we were all super excited.”

Before the draft, James’ father went out in search of hats to purchase in case his son’s name was called. The family had a list of three teams that might select the 6-foot-7 guard, but his father found just one team when he hit the local stores.

“He was planning on buying the three hats and he went to the store and there was only one hat that was remaining and it was a Kings hat,” James said. “He didn’t tell me about it obviously until after I got drafted. So once I heard my name got called, my dad pulled the hat from his car and he gave it to me.”

Coming out of the University of Wyoming, James put up big numbers last season. He’s a combo guard that was asked to carry most of the load for his college team, which may have helped him better prepare for what he’s about to face at the NBA level.

For now, he has to get stronger and the Kings already have a list of items for him to work on.

“Just continue to be versatile, just continue to work hard and just play my game offensively,” James said. “Play-make and make shots whenever I can.”

According to James, Kings general manager Vlade Divac called his agent after his original work and expressed interest. He was high on the Kings' list from the beginning and they jumped at the chance to select him with their first second-round selection.

In addition to James, Guy took center stage for a round of questions. The sharpshooter out of Virginia had no idea when he would get drafted and the long wait took its toll on draft night.

“It was starting to get really somber, it was quiet,” Guy said of his draft night. “It’s such a long night. It started at 7-7:30 and I got drafted at like 12:15 or something. All my family and close friends were there, it was a great night.”

Out of the 101 prospects to roll through Sacramento, Guy was the lone player to visit twice. He knew the Kings were interested, but was slightly confused when his agent messaged him and said they were selecting him with the No. 55 overall pick, which was held by the New York Knicks.

Once he received a text that he was about to be selected, he told his cousin, his best friend and then his fiancé and then hit record on TV and sat back. 

“It was a nice surprise,” Guy said.

A flamboyant shooter and high-energy player on the court, Guy was almost shy in front of the cameras. He quietly described his evening and the whirlwind of action since that night. Maybe it was the setting or speaking to fresh faces, but his real personality is likely to come out eventually.

“I’m very extroverted, I’m very transparent, you ask me anything, I’ll tell you the truth,” Guy said. “I definitely like to have fun, enjoy myself and one of the things I pride myself the most is being a good teammate. That means off the court too.”

[RELATED: Why Kings should call Rockets on Capela]

It’s going to take a while before the Kings know how these two young players fit into their system. With free agency just around the corner, things can change dramatically from one day to the next.

There is a good chance that one or both of these players will spend time in Stockton with the team’s G League affiliate. Fans will get their first look at the duo beginning Monday at the California Classic. James and Guy are expected to suit up in Sacramento and then again when the team travels to Las Vegas for a second round of summer league games.

Kobe Bryant soaked up, enjoyed his final game vs. Kings in Sacramento

Kobe Bryant soaked up, enjoyed his final game vs. Kings in Sacramento

With the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant on Sunday morning, it gives us a moment to look back at the superstar in a different light. As a player, he brutalized the Sacramento Kings on so many occasions, but his greatness on the court isn’t what stood out. 

The 18-time All-Star wasn’t always easy to deal with. He clearly didn’t love speaking to the media after each and every game, especially on the road, when the demand for his time came from unfamiliar voices.

This isn’t uncommon amongst NBA players. There is a trust and familiarity that is built with the people who cover you on a daily basis. 

In his final visit to Sacramento on Jan. 7, 2016, Bryant was different. He laughed and smiled as Kings fans booed him one last time. When the noise turned from heckles to cheers, he acknowledged the fans that he had single handedly hurt so many times before. 

Following the Lakers' 118-115 loss to the Kings that night, he held a full press conference, even speaking on Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. 

“I don’t think anything will ever top Game 7,” Bryant said. “Not the end of Game 7, but the beginning of Game 7, the start. The announcing of the starting five, the lights going out and all those cool lights they gave everybody and just waving them around and you just kinda feel the electricity in the building. That was the best part.”

On that night in 2016, Bryant wasn’t the player he had been in past visits, but he still managed to score 28 points, with 18 of those coming in the first half. Bryant sat out the fourth quarter as his Lakers rallied and almost caught the Kings.

This was a kinder gentler Bryant than we had seen in previous seasons. He was on his farewell tour and he seemed to finally be able to enjoy the ride. He even took a moment to stop and take pictures with Rudy Gay and his son that evening, which humanized him in a way that I didn’t believe possible.

There have been very few athletes like Bryant in the history of not only basketball, but professional sports. His work ethic and focus were surpassed by none.

[RELATED: Kings lose their greatest adversary]

He spent a lifetime being in his own moment. It was obvious being around him that his intensity and passion for his craft made him great. Basketball was his obsession.  

In his final visit to Sacramento, it was like he finally found a way to be a fan again. He was able to appreciate his accomplishments and enjoy the moment.

Kings players react to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant's death in helicopter crash

Kings players react to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant's death in helicopter crash

There never will another Kobe Bryant. The Los Angeles Lakers star died Sunday morning at 41 years old in a helicopter crash.

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were two of nine people who died in the crash on the Calabasas hills. The Sacramento Kings released the following statement to express their deepest regards to the Bryant family and those involved in the crash. 

Bryant had some of his greatest battles with the Kings and forever will be part of the franchise's story. He also helped mentor some of their brightest young players like Buddy Hield and De'Aaron Fox.

[RELATED: Kings lose their greatest adversary with Kobe's tragic death]

Kings players past and present mourned Bryant's death Sunday with multiple messages on social media. 

View this post on Instagram

Eternal Respect🙏🏽👊🏽🏀 #RIPKobeGiGi💜

A post shared by Douglas Christie (@thedougchristie) on