Kings

Kings star De’Aaron Fox is unrecognizable in NBA bubble with new haircut

Kings star De’Aaron Fox is unrecognizable in NBA bubble with new haircut

De’Aaron Fox is known for two things, his incredible speed and his Dragon Ball Z hairstyle. He still has his speed, but his signature hair was one of the first things to go during the NBA lockdown.

According to the Kings point guard, between the new look haircut and the requirements to wear a mask, he’s having some issues being recognized, even in the bubble when he’s surrounded by other NBA players.

“It’s actually been crazy, like when I’m walking and I have the mask on, people really didn’t recognize me,” Fox said on the latest edition of the Purple Talk podcast on NBC Sports California.

In the first few days of the bubble, Fox said he ran into Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker, a fellow Kentucky Wildcat and long time friend. The encounter started off awkwardly.

“He was looking and kind of squinted his eyes,” Fox recalled. “He’s like, De’Aaron?”

[RELATED: Kings 'want all that smoke' in NBA restart, focusing on playoff run]

Once on the court, Fox will stand out when he’s sprinting down the hardwood, but even his jersey will look different with the message “Anti-Racist” on the back. It’s a new-look Fox and it’s probably something fans and players should get used to.

“I’m staying with the short hair,” Fox said. “I’m actually getting waves right now, so I do not plan on growing my hair back out.”

Short hair, spiky hair, no hair at -- it doesn’t really matter as long as Fox is pushing the tempo and leading the Kings to victories.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Kings' NBA playoffs drought hits 14 seasons after bubble elimination

Kings' NBA playoffs drought hits 14 seasons after bubble elimination

The Kings' playoff drought officially extended another year.

The Portland Trail Blazers' 124-121 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday dashed Sacramento's last hopes of a chance at the postseason, as the Kings can no longer qualify for a play-in series between the Western Conference's No. 8 and No. 9 seeds.

The Kings (29-40) needed to finish the restarted NBA season ninth in the West and no more than four games back of the Memphis (33-38) for eighth in the conference to force a play-in, and Sacramento was mathematically eliminated Sunday.

Sacramento hasn't made the playoffs since 2006 but entered the Orlando bubble with high hopes of returning this year. The Kings instead floundered out of the gate, losing all but one of their first five games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex as most of their rivals surged. While the Grizzlies' struggles (1-5 since the restart) created a real opportunity, the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs leapfrogged the Kings in the standings and the Trail Blazers can still grab a play-in spot.

The Kings didn't just start slow in Orlando, however. Sacramento opened Luke Walton's first season as coach with a five-game losing streak, then lost eight consecutive games to close out December and another six straight in mid-January. The Kings stood 15-29 and second-to-last in the Western Conference on Jan. 22, and that hole proved too deep to dig out of.

[RELATED: Barnes takes heat after another poor Kings performance]

Sacramento's 13-8 run prior to the NBA season's coronavirus suspension in mid-March kept the door to the playoffs ajar, and the restarted season's format cracked it wide open. The Kings were scheduled to play teams around them in the standings (Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans), Eastern Conference foes all-but-assured of playoff spots (Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets) and Western Conference contenders who would've had little to play for (Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers) by the time they played Sacramento.

But the door started to shut when Kings lost to the Spurs, Magic and Dallas Mavericks to open the restarted season. A loss to the Nets on Friday all but closed it, and the Grizzlies' win/Blazers' win on Sunday finished the job.

Former Kings head coach, Hall of Famer Paul Westphal battling cancer

Former Kings head coach, Hall of Famer Paul Westphal battling cancer

Ten years ago, I walked into my first Kings media day as an independent writer with zero experience and no guarantee that I ever would be allowed in the building again. I was green and had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I had to fight my way into the building for media day in September 2010. When I was allowed to attend training camp a day later, it always was on uncertain ground. I kept showing up and the Kings kept opening the door and letting me in.

When I was credentialed for my first preseason game, it was with the understanding that it would probably be the only time that happened. When I made it on the list for the second game, it was explained that this was only for preseason.

A decade later, I keep showing up and the Kings keep letting me in the building. The reason? I had a backer in that first season that helped change my life.

I’ve met plenty of people throughout my journey that have impacted my career, but none more than former Kings head coach and Naismith Hall of Famer, Paul Westphal.

In the opening days of my first training camp, Westphal and I formed a connection. Maybe he was looking for an ally on the other side. Maybe I was, too.

Whatever the reason, we hit it off and unbeknownst to me, it was Westphal who had gone to the Kings’ media relations staff and told them to keep letting me in the building.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

It was the early stages of bloggers being allowed into NBA arenas. I showed up like clockwork, asked questions, was respectful and by the end of my first season, I was hooked.

At one point during that first season, Westphal and I exchanged numbers so I could reach out while the team was on the road. We would chat on the phone and I would transcribe the discussions for Q&A’s.

During the 2011 summer, the NBA hit a lockout, but that didn’t close a door with Westphal. We met for lunch during the lockout multiple times and would talk basketball and life for hours.

An incredible storyteller, Westphal would share behind the scenes stories of his coaching start at Southwestern Baptist Bible College, his experience working with Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns, and even the bizarre tale of Jerrod Mustaf.

Westphal was let go in Sacramento seven games into my second season covering the team after a public spat with young star DeMarcus Cousins. By that time, I already was considered a full-time member of the media corps, in part thanks to him.

On Sunday morning, Westphal’s longtime friend, Mike Lupica, turned to social media to give an update on Westphal, who was inducted in the Hall of Fame just last year.

Outside of my personal dealings with Westphal, he is widely considered one of the true gentlemen of the game. A magnificent player during his time in the league, he’s proven to be an even better person off the court.

It has been a while since we connected, outside of a text exchange when he received the call for the Hall, but he is an incredibly influential person in my career and my thoughts and prayers go out to Paul, his wife Cindy, their children and grandchildren as he battles a very unkind illness.