You can ask any one of the Sacramento Kings who their leader is. To a man, they all answer the same- Cisco. Francisco Garcia is the guy they go to for everything on and off the court. He has been in the gym working hard all summer to recover from last year’s catastrophic pre-season injury and the Francisco of old looks to be back and ready to contribute. If the Kings want to increase last year’s win total of 25 games, they need the sweet shooting stroke of Garcia to stretch the defense and they need him healthy. Here is the Sacramento Kings’ Francisco Garcia with The Purple Panjandrum:
TPP: You’re coming back after missing most of last season with the arm injury. Just how excited are you to come into this season healthy?
Cisco: I’m real excited. Last year was a disaster because of what happened, but I’m back and I feel great.
TPP: You bring an elite three point shooting stroke to the team. Do you feel that is your role, to stretch the defense?
Cisco: You know, I can do a lot more than just shoot the three.
TPP: For your height and position, you are one of the better shot blockers in the league. Is that something you work on or just instinctive?
Cisco: You know, it’s just being active on defense. I like to do that.
TPP: Every player on this team, when asked, has said that you are the leader of this team. Have you grown into that role or does it come naturally?
Cisco: It’s something you don’t work on. I just try to have a great relationship with the guys. They listen to me and that feels good.
TPP: How are the younger players like Tyreke and DeMarcus developing as leaders?
Cisco: Very good. They work hard, they are here everyday early, so that’s a good start.
TPP: Last year there was a lot of talk about you taking Casspi under your wing while you were injured, but I haven’t really seen you guys together that much this pre-season. Are you just working more with other players this year?
Cisco: We are close, on the court and off the court. I mean, he’s been through it already. Me and Cousins have a good relationship and I’m showing him the ropes now.
TPP: What do you expect out of this season for both you and this team?
Cisco: You know, the sky’s the limit, we just have to stay together. We need to get good chemistry going and for myself the first thing is staying healthy-right? And then after that, I just have to go out there and perform.
Francisco Garcia is not what you would call an easy interview. His words are few, but very concise. It’s not just me. I have seen him with others and it is typically the same. You ask a question and he answers in 12 words or less.
To share a story of immense embarrassment from camp, during one of his many three point shoot-outs with Evans and Greene, Cisco was having an off-day. I was snapping photos and taking digital video of the three from underneath the basket, mostly because they were having such a good time and I like showing that side of the players. Tyreke and Donté were loving the fact that for once, they were beating Cisco. They were really talking trash, throwing balls up when he was shooting and just generally clowning their focused leader.
It got to a point where Tyreke and Donté wouldn’t even give Cisco his change on made shots. He had to go and chase down his misses while the other two messed with him. Since I was under the basket, and he wasn’t getting any help from the other two, I reached down and and flipped the ball back to him as he walked toward me. I swear he was looking when I tossed it, but he then turned his head to talk some trash. When he looked back, my pass hit him in the face. It wasn’t a zinger, and I’m sure it didn’t hurt, but Cisco gave me the death stare. Greene and Evans literally fell to the floor laughing and continued to roll around in hysterics for the entire two minutes Garcia stared at me. Needless to say, that was the last time I helped out with a missed shot.
The next day, knowing that I couldn’t shy away from him or risk being “that guy,” I went down to his end of the court and took some more photos. He came over and told me he was just messing with me the day before, which I knew anyway - but still, it was a nice gesture.
Certain players have a character trait that makes others want to follow them. For the Kings, Francisco Garcia is that player. He is both funny and intense on and off the court. At age 28 (29 on December 31), only Dalembert is older than Garcia on the Kings’ roster and only by a few months. Still a young man himself, Garcia is mature beyond his years and takes his role as a leader very seriously. There are fans who look at his contract and wonder why the Kings would pay so much for a six man but let me be clear about this, Francisco Garcia is worth his weight in gold to this young team.