The Sacramento Kings on NBC… Kind of…

What does this picture remind you of?

Some of you may immediately think of the glory years of the Kings when the Lakers were the post-season challenge everybody wanted and the Chris Webber-Vlade Divac-Peja Stojakovic-Doug Christie-Mike Bibby hydra seemed like a group of talent that was destined to hoist trophies.

But now, this image is looking more and more like the evolution of Maloof Sports and Entertainment. The broadcasting team has received a major star-studded overhaul over the past week. Jim Gray has replaced Kayte Christensen as the sideline reporter for 20 games next season. Even though Kayte has been extremely good at her job over the past, the Kings decided to not renew her contract.

This prompted an extremely awkward piece by Ailene Voisin for the Sacramento Bee in which she used yet another confusing and puzzling example of physical attributes while throwing her usual unnecessary jabs at Kayte and Tyreke Evans (out of NOWHERE). This move is being sold as a hard-hitting reporter who won’t take no for an answer. He won’t allow the usual clichés to infiltrate his broadcast. He won’t do “puff pieces.”

You know… that is until he tries to get Tyreke to speak up on camera or Beno Udrih to compare himself to Goran Dragic or Francisco Garcia to not playfully answer questions because that’s just the kind of guy he is. After all this is sideline reporting. This is going to be roughly four full minutes of air time over the course of each game of journalism you can’t get anywhere else, especially not from an attractive basketball player who connected with audiences (right, Ailene?).

Personally, I have no problem with Jim Gray. I always enjoyed what he did as much as I enjoyed any sideline reporter. For me, it rarely adds much to the game because I’m more interested in analyzing the play on the court for myself and with people who are more in-depth with the way they present these types of things. I’m not saying that Jim Gray doesn’t know his stuff but at the same time, it’s hard to really get into it when you only get 30 seconds of talk time.

I’d much rather listen to someone like Jerry Reynolds give his expert opinion. As my dad has said for years, Jerry has probably forgotten more about basketball than most people will ever know. And that’s what I care for in my basketball telecasts. I want experts that know the game inside and out.

And that’s what makes the second part of this makeover for the Kings broadcasts so exciting to me. The Kings are going to bring in Bill Walton to be a part of the rebuilding of this organization.

According to The Bee, Bill Walton will start off this season doing roughly five to 10 Kings games next season as he eases his way back into the broadcasting booth. A lot of those games will come from the four games in Los Angeles next season along with some higher profile games (think Kobe, Dwight Howard, LeBron James types of games). He’s also going to watch some games at home and provide commentary from there (Skype, anyone?).

I think this is a huge coup for the Kings and their entertainment. Even though the three-man booth in local NBA broadcasts is a rarity, putting the right people together can definitely work. Jerry Reynolds and Bill Walton are definitely the right people. Both are wonderful storytellers and analysts of the game. I know some people have this misconception that Bill Walton wasn’t good at his job but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Bill Walton is a joy to have broadcasting games. He provides a perfect balance between humor, reality, analysis and pure entertainment. He has a recognizable voice and style that will win Kings fans over as he’s gushing over the dominance of Tyreke Evans, the rare big man skills of Spencer Hawes, the toughness of Carl Landry or the joy that Donté Greene brings to a basketball game.

Whether you like Grant Napier or not, he is one of the better local announcers in the league with the way he calls a game. Trust me; I’ve looked around the NBA for this.

Now, the Kings are basically assembling an All-Star crew to talk about their future All-Star crew. It’s almost foreshadowing what the Kings will be by bringing the glitz and glamour to the organization now.


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