Kings

A Prince Among Kings: Jerry Reynolds transitions to new role after 20 years on Kings broadcast

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Sacramento Kings

A Prince Among Kings: Jerry Reynolds transitions to new role after 20 years on Kings broadcast

SACRAMENTO -- The end of the 2017-18 NBA season is upon us, and it comes with some emotional news for Sacramento Kings fans. Legendary broadcaster and former team executive Jerry Reynolds has decided to step away from his full-time position as color analyst for the team.

“I feel like this is the time for me to make a transition in my career. I just don’t feel like I have the interest or the capabilities to be a full-time employee, as much as I’ve enjoyed my time with the Kings,” Reynolds said on The Kings Insider Podcast on NBC Sports California.

Reynolds has worked alongside play-by-play man Grant Napear for the past twenty seasons of Kings basketball. He’s an iconic figure on the Sacramento sports landscape, but at 74 years old, the wear and tear of an 82-game season with an intense travel schedule has taken its toll.
 
“This is strictly my decision,” Reynolds said. “They’ve given me the opportunity to change my mind a couple of times, but I know it’s the right thing. Father Time wins every battle.”
 
According to Reynolds, the team offered him a long-term contract last summer, but he turned it down in lieu of a one-year deal. After thinking it through, he made the difficult decision to walk away from full-time duty, in part because of long-term health concerns.
 
“I am a 20-year diabetic and honestly, the last year was tough on me,” Reynolds said. “I’m not trying to work up a pity contest here, but it was a lot tougher for me to take care of my disease.”
 
In his time with the franchise, Reynolds has been an assistant coach, interim head coach, head coach, general manager, director of player personnel and color analyst. He also headed up the Sacramento Monarchs, who brought home a WNBA Championship in 2005.
 
“As a broadcast partner, I just have been so blessed,” Napear told NBC Sports California. “I can’t adequately put into words what it’s meant to be with him 82 games a year doing NBA basketball. It’s effortless. It’s fun. It’s not work in any capacity.”
 
“He’s just a great person and I consider him a part of my family."
 
An unlikely duo - a New Yorker and and a country boy from French Lick, Indiana - Napear and Reynolds have consistently been considered one of the best broadcast teams in the NBA.
 
“We’re kind of like an old couple,” Reynolds said of Napear. “He’s 100 miles per hour and I’m 20 miles per hour. New York and Indiana. And it kind of works.”
 
With his country charm and flair for coining nicknames, Reynolds helped create a broadcast that is uniquely Sacramento. He’s brought a lighthearted approach to the game through good seasons and bad in Sacramento.
 
“He’s so folksy,” said Gary Gerould, the radio voice of the Kings. “He’s such a people person and he loves to talk basketball. I envy his depth of knowledge and his way of expressing that just makes you smile. He’s unique.”
 
Reynolds isn’t going anywhere. He will continue to be a fixture in the Kings’ family, both on and off the court. He will represent the team in the community and at team functions.
 
The details haven’t been fully settled, but the Kings also expect Reynolds to continue to contribute to game broadcasts and Pre/Post shows on NBC Sports California as well as Kings coverage on Sports 1140 KHTK radio.
 
He has no intention of walking away anytime soon from a loyal fan base that has supported him for the last 33 years, since he came with the team from Kansas City before the 1985-86 season.
 
“I work for the fans and I owe the fans, and I’ll always feel that way,” Reynolds said. “It’s been an honor and a thrill to get to know them, to work for them and I’ll always owe them.”
 
With Reynolds stepping away from his full-time role, the team has pegged former Kings shooting guard Doug Christie as his replacement. Christie has worked 10 games per year alongside Napear over the last three seasons as the team groomed him for the position.
 
“Hopefully my voice is taken in and consumed by our Sacramento Kings fans, and they give me a chance to do me,” Christie said.
 
The pair also work together on the team’s flagship radio station Sports 1140 KHTK, and Christie has been a fixture on NBC Sports California’s pre and postgame shows for the past three years.  
 
There is no replacing Reynolds, but Christie brings a different vibe to the telecast. He adds energy and excitement, and he’s worked hard to improve at his craft. Napear and Christie have had short opportunities to work together, but it will take time to develop the chemistry that fans have become accustomed to on a nightly basis.

“He doesn’t have an ego,” Napear said of Christie. “He’s unbelievably prepared and he knows the game. It’s actually much easier than I thought it would be. He’s not Jerry and I don’t expect him to be Jerry.”
 
“He does his job off the court like he did as a player,” Reynolds said of his successor. “He really prepares, he works hard, he thinks it out. I’m not surprised by any of it. He’ll get better and better. He’s terrific.”
 
It’s tough to step in and replace a legend. Christie won't try to be the next Jerry Reynolds. Instead, he intends to grow into the role and make it his own.
 
After a 15-year NBA career, including four and a half in a Kings uniform, Christie and his family moved back to the Sacramento area in the summer of 2016. He has a passion for the franchise that he helped lead to the 2002 Western Conference Finals.
 
“It’s surreal. At the same time, the affinity I have for the Sacramento Kings - I want to see them do something,” Christie said. “To actually be a part of that is a humbling experience.”
 
The team has planned a video tribute to Reynolds that will play during the season finale against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday evening at Golden 1 Center. It will be a celebration of a Sacramento legend.

Kings GM Vlade Divac reportedly didn't know of Luke Walton assault accusations

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USATSI

Kings GM Vlade Divac reportedly didn't know of Luke Walton assault accusations

The Sacramento Kings apparently were as surprised as anyone by Monday's reports that coach Luke Walton has been accused of sexual assault. And the team won't make any quick decisions because of it.

The Athletic's Sam Amick cited a source in reporting that Kings general manager Vlade Divac, who hired Walton last week on a four-year contract, didn't know about the accusations before they became public. Amick also reported that "it was too early in this fact-finding process to explore the possibility of terminating Walton’s contract." So, Walton will stay in Sacramento while the facts come out.

The Kings issued this statement after the news broke: "We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time."

Sports broadcaster Kelli Tennant, formerly of Spectrum SportsNet, filed a lawsuit Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, accusing Walton of sexually assaulting her in his Santa Monica hotel room when he was an assistant coach for the Warriors. Tennant also cited further incidents, which the suit called a “pattern of mistreatment,” including when Walton was the Lakers' coach, starting in 2016.

Walton has retained attorney Mark Baute, who represented Minnesota Timberwolves star Derrick Rose in a rape lawsuit in which he was cleared, to defend him in the case.

Walton and the Lakers parted ways on April 12, but the team reportedly was open to keeping the coach. Walton was offered the chance to stay in LA after president Magic Johnson abruptly resigned on April 9, but he was ready to leave for various reasons, Amick reported. Just days later, he had a new job in Sacramento.

Kings coach Luke Walton reportedly sued over alleged sexual assault

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USATSI

Kings coach Luke Walton reportedly sued over alleged sexual assault

Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton is being accused of sexual assault in a lawsuit filed by sports broadcaster Kelli Tennant, according to court documents first obtained Monday by TMZ and confirmed by the Los Angeles Times.

TMZ, which originally reported that the incident occurred in May 2017, later corrected the timing to "sometime before Walton became head coach of the Lakers." The Times' Tania Ganguli reported the alleged assault happened when Walton was a Warriors assistant coach, a position he held from 2014 to 2016 before leaving for LA.

Walton's lawyer denied the allegations against his client in a statement released late Monday night.

"Luke Walton retained me to defend him against these baseless allegations," said Mark Baute, whom the Times noted also represented Minnesota Timberwolves star Derrick Rose in a lawsuit in which he was accused of raping a woman. "The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom."

KCRA-TV's Michelle Dapper tweeted four pages from the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, which outlined Tennant's relationship with Walton and detailed the alleged sexual assault, although it didn't provide the exact date of the incident.

According to the suit, Tennant knew Walton and his wife through the competitive volleyball circuit, as both women played in college. Tennant also worked with Walton when he was a Lakers analyst on Spectrum SportsNet and later covered him when he started coaching. Tennant, according to the suit, received "mentorship and advice" from Walton, whom she viewed as "a trusted colleague, mentor and even friend."

Tennant asked Walton to write the foreword to her book, "The Transition: Every Athlete's Guide to Life After Sports," which he did. The book was published July 8, 2014, just before Walton's first season as a Warriors assistant coach, and she later wanted to give him a copy when he was in Los Angeles for a Warriors-Lakers game.

Tennant met Walton at his Santa Monica hotel, where he told her to park her car so they could "catch up." Tennant did, but she was surprised, the suit says, when Walton went to the elevators to the rooms instead of the lobby, and told her: "It's fine. Come on up. It's me." 

Once in Walton's hotel room, Tennant and Walton talked about the book, his job with the Warriors and their families (Tennant knew Walton was married and had children). Then, the suit alleges, Walton "suddenly and out-of-nowhere" assaulted Tennant, pinning her to the bed, groping her and forcibly kissing her.

Tennant told Walton to stop, but he "laughed at her pleas," the suit alleges. Walton eventually let go, and after being restrained again, Tennant left the room once he finally released his grasp.

Tennant did not report the incident, though "she confided in certain people," the suit says. She also still had to interact with Walton because of her job, and he "would impose him" on Tennant with "with a big hug or kiss," instead of a handshake, according to the document.

Ganguli and ESPN's Ramona Shelburne confirmed via sources that Tennant's allegations never were reported to the Lakers. The team later said in a statement that the incident occurred before Walton was an employee and it indeed wasn't reported to them.

Tennant worked for Spectrum SportsNet in Los Angeles for five years, and covering the Lakers was among her many duties. An August 2018 profile of Tennant in The Press-Enterprise noted she had left Spectrum after the Dodgers' 2017 season ended and "shut down her social media accounts for a few months, and regrouped even as viewers wonder[ed] where she went."

The Times cites a second incident, months before Tennant's departure from the TV network, in the suit. According to the paper, Tennant spoke at a May 24, 2017, charity event in which Walton and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss were honored, and the then-LA coach "made lewd noises and looked at her suggestively before hugging her in an unwanted way." The Times said the suit used that incident as an example of a “pattern of mistreatment.”

[RELATED: Kings reportedly didn't know about accusations against Walton]

The Kings, who hired Walton last weekissued a statement after the news broke: "We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time."

The Warriors also provided a statement: "We became aware of the alleged incident and story this evening and are in the process of seeking more information. We’ll have no further comment at this time."

ESPN cited sources in reporting that the NBA opened an investigation into the case, although the league hasn't officially commented.