Vlade Divac courtside for Kings’ win months after leaving team

Divac courtside for Kings’ win just months after leaving team originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SACRAMENTO — You never quite know what might happen at a Kings game.

From Kelsey Grammer sitting courtside at Sleep Train Arena, to Drake walking into a locker room after an epic meltdown and even Vanilla Ice singing “Ninja Rap,” there is always a chance for something weird to happen. 

Mother’s Day 2021 didn’t disappoint.

In one of the strangest moments in recent memory, former general manager Vlade Divac made a surprise visit to Golden 1 Center. He sat courtside with owner Vivek Randivé, all while new general manager Monte McNair — Divac’s successor — Ranadivé’s right.

“Vlade … he’s one of those people that when you see him, you can’t help but smile,” coach Luke Walton said following the Kings’ 126-98 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. “He’s a massive man, and I’ve known Vlade since ’03 when I first got into the league. He’s a fantastic, fantastic person. When I looked over and saw him, it brought a smile to my face.”

According to a league source, Divac was in town and wanted to stop by and catch his former squad in action. 

Divac, who starred for the Kings from 1998 to 2004, is one of the most beloved players during the Sacramento era. His run as a GM didn’t go as planned. 

After taking over the team following the 2014-15 season, Divac led the Kings to a 162-238 record in five seasons as an executive. 

While it didn’t always make the right move, Divac is responsible for drafting players like De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley, as well as pulling off trades for Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic. He also signed starting center Richaun Holmes as a free agent two summers ago.

Unfortunately, Divac also known for passing on All-Star Luka Doncic and his teams failed to break the now 14-year playoff drought in Sacramento.

Divac stepped down last Aug. 14, just a day after the Kings concluded a 3-5 record in the Orlando Bubble. After an exhaustive search, McNair was chosen as Divac’s replacement on Sept. 17. 

Following the game, players, coaches and staff members lined up to welcome the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame center back into the building. The gregarious big man shook hands, gave hugs and could be seen heading down the hallway towards the Kings’ locker room following the win.

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Divac later popped back up on the mezzanine area of Golden 1 Center, and a group of fans crowded around him to take a picture.

It’s not often that you see an executive come back to his former team for a visit so quickly after departing, but that might be the lasting testament to who Divac is as a man. Always the calming voice in the room, the lovable 7-footer should be thought of fondly in Sacramento. 

While he didn’t accomplish his goal of returning the Kings to their former glory, his intentions and motivations never were in question. 

Divac has always been an incredible ambassador for the franchise, and he is a basketball lifer. He also has a his numbers in the rafters of Golden 1. Hopefully, this is the beginning of some much-needed healing for the franchise, the fan base and one of the greatest to ever put on a Kings uniform. 

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