Vlade Divac talks love of basketball in Naismith Hall of Fame speech


Vlade Divac talks love of basketball in Naismith Hall of Fame speech

With NBA legend Jerry West by his side, Sacramento Kings general manager Vlade Divac stood in front of a packed house at the Naismith Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. on Friday evening and gave a stirring acceptance speech. West took a chance on the 7-footer out of Yugoslavia with the No. 26 pick in the 1989 NBA Draft, which helped open the door for a generation of European players to play in the NBA.

A member of the class of 2019, Divac enters the Hall via the International Committee. From humble beginnings with his national team to stints with the Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte Hornets and Sacramento Kings, Divac is a basketball pioneer and an ambassador for his sport.

“To me the game of basketball has always been about love,” Divac said as he made his opening remarks. “So it’s a good thing that I had my agent and good friend Mark Fleisher by my side to make sure I made some money along the way.”

His dry sense of humor is part of what made him an amazing teammate and allowed him to have an impact on players around the world. His ability to pull a locker room together was legendary.

“Basketball is the opposite of selfishness, basketball is solely about giving and sharing and caring for one another,” Divac said.

Divac was brief with his comments. He thanked his former teammates and coaches from all of his stops. He thanked his family, including his wife Anna, who he recently celebrated 30 years of marriage with.

Divac delved briefly into his beginnings in Yugoslavia, where he was part of one of the greatest international teams in history. After winning silver at the 1988 Olympics and gold at the 1991 EuroBasket, civil war split the Yugoslavian team in pieces.

“Even though politics, war and hate tried to break us apart, they didn’t succeed,” Divac said. “They didn’t know that our love for each other was that much stronger than all the hate they were trying to impose on us.”

Former Yugoslavian teammate Dino Radja was in the crowd to support his friend, as was Kings legend Chris Webber and plenty of others.

More than anything, Divac spoke philosophically about love and bigger issues than the game of basketball. He was more than just the numbers in a box score, which is why he is now a member of the Hall of Fame.

[RELATED: How Divac helped build Kings' culture of family]

“Basketball is like life and life is like basketball. It’s just a game," Divac said. "So lets play the best we can while we are still here with love, compassion, selflessness fairplay and supporting each other to be bigger and better human beings.”

Divac is the 15th member of the Kings franchise to enter the Hall of Fame and he joins Mitch Richmond as the second player in the Sacramento-era to enter as a King. He is entering his sixth season as an executive with the team and is the driving force behind the roster transformation that led to the franchises best record since the 2005-06 season.

Report: Woman who accused Luke Walton of sexual assault drops lawsuit


Report: Woman who accused Luke Walton of sexual assault drops lawsuit

Kelli Tennant, the woman who accused Luke Walton of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room in 2014, is dropping her lawsuit against the Kings coach, TMZ Sports reported Thursday morning.

Tennant sued Walton after claiming he forced himself on her in a Santa Monica, Calif., hotel when she was a sports reporter. Walton was a Warriors assistant coach at the time.

TMZ reported that Tennant now has filed new court documents calling off the suit, asking a judge to dismiss with prejudice, which means she can't refile.

TMZ reached out to Tennant's attorney for comment but did not receive a response.

Walton, for his part, is ready to move on.

“I remain 100 percent focused on coaching the Kings and will have no further comment," Walton said when asked about the dismissal. 

In August, the Kings and the NBA concluded their joint investigation into Tennant's allegations. The investigation found insufficient evidence to support the claims against Walton. 

The Kings said that Tennant, through her counsel, chose not to participate in the investigation, despite numerous attempts.

"Based on this and the available evidence, the investigators determined that there was not a sufficient basis to support the allegations made against Coach Walton," a statement by the Kings and NBA read. 

Kings' season being defined by injuries but they're not making excuses

Kings' season being defined by injuries but they're not making excuses

PORTLAND -- No one is making excuses. The Sacramento Kings expect to win basketball games. When they don’t there is a lot of frustration to go around.

After a difficult 127-116 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers where the Kings were forced to play without Bogdan Bogdanovic, the team is limping through the early schedule and looking for some kind of boost.

“It’s difficult, we’re banged up,” Cory Joseph told NBC Sports California as he sat in his locker with an ice wrap on his back. “We are all banged up, but it’s the NBA, it happens. It’s a next man up mentality, we just got to figure out how to put a couple of wins together.”

Coach Luke Walton’s group has done a nice job of playing the next man up game, but losing Bogdanovic might be a tipping point for this team.

It’s not just that the Kings have lost three players. They’ve lost their starting point guard in De’Aaron Fox, their best interior scorer in Marvin Bagley and now their sixth man who has helped hold everything together.

“You don’t want any of your guys to get hurt, but a lot of what we built, we built around having certain guys, and they haven’t been with us,” Walton said. “Again, that’s why I go back to giving our guys credit, they’ve adjusted, adapted, continued to work. The NBA is tough, and the West is a monster, and even with that our guys are out there giving everything they have most nights.”

It’s become the theme of the season. Bagley broke his thumb in the first game of the season and has yet to make it back on the court. He wasn’t with the team in Portland as he prepared for another re-evaluation. It’s possible that he joins the team on the current trip, but nothing is certain.

Fox severely sprained his left ankle in practice a little over three weeks ago. He stayed back in Sacramento to continue his rehab and is still 2-3 weeks away from suiting up.

Nemanja Bjelica and Cory Joseph have stepped up to fill in, but neither player fits the mold of the one they are replacing. Bjelica is shooter and a high-basketball IQ player, but he doesn’t have Bagley’s post game or rebound ability.

Fox is an offensive weapon and the fastest player in the league. Replacing him with the defensive-minded Joseph is a difficult transition and that’s not a knock on Joseph.

“The biggest thing is, the people who are out there, we’ve got to get it done,” Harrison Barnes told NBC Sports California. “Tonight wasn’t a great performance on either side of the ball for myself and I know I can be better, but for everybody. We just have to find a way and we’ve done that this season and we’ll continue to do that. Hopefully at some point, we’ll all be healthy and on the court at the same time.”

Outside of Fox, Bogdanovic is the team’s best playmaker. Walton used Yogi Ferrell and Trevor Ariza to eat the minutes, but the second unit combined for five assists, which is really close to what Bogdanovic averages for the season on his own.

Bogdanovic is confident he’ll be ready to play on Friday when the Kings fly to San Antonio to take on the Spurs. He’s struggled with left hamstring tightness for the last week, but he told NBC Sports California during pregame that he was feeling much better. He had ice on his right knee, which has a contusion, but he’s a gamer that rarely sits out.

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At 8-12, the Kings are still in the thick of things in the Western Conference. If they can get healthy, there will be an adjustment period, but the added pieces are exactly what the team needs.

The key is to continue to play hard, regardless of who steps on the floor, with the hopes of keeping within striking distance. It’s not the script the Kings hoped for this season, but this is the reality of their situation.