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.

Harrison Barnes places Kings' flameout in Orlando on himself, veterans

Harrison Barnes places Kings' flameout in Orlando on himself, veterans

The team that began the Orlando bubble saying “we want all of that smoke” just learned that smoke usually is accompanied by fire.

At 1-4 in the NBA restart, the Kings have shown they aren’t ready for the fire and they might not be ready for prime time.

“I think it starts with individual accountability, just in terms of the effort we are putting out there on a consistent basis,” veteran Harrison Barnes said following the Kings’ 119-106 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. “It’s hard to win in this league and to be consistent, you have to do that every single night.”

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The Kings have talent. But rarely is that enough at the NBA level.

You have to play together. You have to play for one another. In the end, you have to bring energy and effort every night or a team of no-names, like the squad the Nets threw on the court Friday, will embarrass you.

It’s a common theme with the Kings. They played a tremendous game in a 140-125 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, scoring 49 points in the first quarter

Just over 24 hours later, they looked like a collection of players that had never played together. There was no chemistry. No passing. No rotations on defense.

Just forced and ineffective basketball.

“Frustration is high,” Barnes admitted. “I don’t know if it’s disappointing, but it’s frustrating. Coming into this game, we knew it was more mental than physical. It was meeting force with force. It was being disciplined. It didn’t matter what scheme we had or what game plan we had if we didn’t have any effort.”

Who's to blame for the Kings’ flame out in Orlando? Coach Luke Walton has already drawn plenty of criticism, but at some point the players themselves have to take ownership for the things they can control on the court.

Following the loss to the Nets, Barnes fell on his sword as one of the leaders of the team. He placed the blame on himself and the rest of the veterans.

“I’ll be the first to say it’s definitely on us as veteran players -- guys like myself," Barnes said. "I’ll take responsibility for that because I’ve been to the playoffs, I’ve been to the Finals. I know the energy and effort it takes to win games and if you don’t bring that, you lose.”

“As a group, we have to learn that you can’t just turn it on,” he added.

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The Kings have a choice. They can pout and get their lunch handed to them for the next three games. They can also play spoiler and leave the bubble on as high of a note as possible.

Either way, this isn’t the outcome the Kings were hoping for. They have had a few bright spots, like the play of De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic, so the experience isn’t a total wash. But after five games, any talk of playoffs is over and changes likely are coming during the abbreviated offseason.

Kings takeaways: What you might've missed in 119-106 loss vs. Nets

Kings takeaways: What you might've missed in 119-106 loss vs. Nets


Consistently inconsistent.

After coming away with a huge win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, the Kings failed to show up Friday on the second night of a back-to-back against the completely depleted Brooklyn Nets.

Sacramento looked stagnant on offense and a step slow in its rotations on the defensive end. The result was an embarrassing 119-106 loss that all but extinguished the Kings' remaining playoff hopes.

Here are three takeaways from the Kings getting out-hustled and fell to 1-4 in the Orlando bubble.

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Loud Thud

The Kings came into the restarted NBA season talking a big game. They played well enough to win against the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks, but couldn’t close out games. Their win over the Pelicans gave folks a glimmer of hope, but blowout losses to the Orlando Magic and Nets were completely unacceptable.

With Friday's loss, Sacramento has completely fallen out of the race for the No. 8 seed and would need a miracle to finish ninth and force a play-in series.

The Kings still have three games remaining in the restart, but general manager Vlade Divac has to take a long look at his roster this summer and make some difficult decisions. Everything outside of trading De’Aaron Fox should be on the table.

Bogi puts up a fight

Bogdan Bogdanovic posted a career-high 35 points in the Kings’ win over the Pelicans, and he was back at it again against the Nets.

One of the few Kings players to stand out, Bogdanovic finished with a team-high 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting, including 4-of-8 on 3-pointers.

A restricted free agent at the end of the season, Bogdanovic has been really solid in four of the Kings’ five games. Unfortunately for Sacramento, it just wasn't enough Friday.

[RELATED: NBA puts money where its mouth is for racial, social justice]

Star still shining

Since the beginning of the restart, De'Aaron Fox has come out aggressive and put on a show. He didn’t match his 27.5 points per game average from the first four games on Friday, but he was effective in his time on the court.

The Kings' starting point guard finished with 21 points and seven assists. There is the outline of a star, but he needs another really strong offseason to take that next step.