Vlade Divac returns to Sacramento

Vlade Divac sits courtside with Vivek Ranadivé. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

With the Sacramento Kings hell bent on moving forward into the future, a face from the past dropped by for a visit this week.  The great Vlade Divac has joined forces with his old team and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to help raise funds and awareness for clean water and adequate sanitation initiatives for children around the globe.

With his jersey hanging in the rafters, Divac sat courtside with Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadivé for last night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.  Before taking his seat, the former All-Star center sat down with Cowbell Kingdom for a quick chat.

CK: Why is it that you jumped on board with UNICEF and why are you teaming up with the Kings for this venture?

VD: The Kings are the first sports team in the United States to partner with (the) UNICEF program in promoting clean water awareness around the world.  We have a lot of kids dying from a lack of clean water, especially in India and China.  I’m so proud of the Kings organization for taking part in it.

CK: From the outside looking in, and from almost another world away, you watched this whole relocation saga unfold over the last few years.  How happy are you that there is still a Sacramento Kings, that your jersey still hangs from the rafters here and that the Kings didn’t move elsewhere?

VD: That’s another victory for the true sports (fan).  I would be very disappointed, like true sports people, to have to see the Kings leave this town.  If you look at loyalty and fan base support, Sacramento is definitely No. 1 in supporting their team.  Even bad seasons and good seasons, they’re still there.  And it would be a very bad message to fans to take the club away from them.

CK: You look at this team now and Shaquille O’Neal is part of this franchise.  How strange is that to see Shaq, who you fought against for so many years when you were a member of the Kings, now a part of the ownership group?

VD: For me, I think it’s very good for the city of Sacramento, for the Kings organization, even for our former players, not just locally, but internationally that the Kings are a well recognized franchise.  It’s great to have someone like Shaq be a part of it.  What happens on the floor, it’s a lot of fun.  We had battles between each other, but hey, he’s now part of the Kings organization and that’s good.  Just like how I was part of the Lakers and the Kings.  I have mixed emotions, but still, I love this organization.

CK: You’re part of the European revolution of players to come to the NBA.  Arvydas Sabonis is in the Hall of Fame.  Drazen Petrovic is in the Hall of Fame and now Sarunas Marciulionis is in.  When is it Vlade Divac’s turn?

VD: Obviously, I’m part of that group and one day, probably I’ll be there.  We’ll see.

CK: What would it mean for you to get that call?

VD: It’s going to be a big honor for me to be a part of that, because having career like I had and having my jersey here in the rafters, that’s something.  When you win games you feel great about your career.  That’s the top of the recognition (mountain).  It would be a great feeling.

CK: Your run as the President of the Serbian Olympic committee is almost done.  What’s next for you?

VD: My plans are to come back to the states because two of my kids are in college here and I have a daughter who’s finishing high school. So when she moves here, we’re going to come back and definitely be a part of the NBA in some way.

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About: James Ham

James Ham is co-owner and senior editor of Cowbell Kingdom, providing extensive Kings coverage through news analysis, in-depth interviews with players and staff and daily coverage of breaking news. Along with providing original content for the site, including the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast and his weekly Sunday Musings column, James also is one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary film "Small Market, Big Heart".