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Warriors vs Kings preview: Bigger than basketball

The NBA is a league of entertainment but the platform and voice they have extends beyond the court. The Sacramento Kings have shown us what it means to truly be a part of the community.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Sacramento Kings Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Game information

Who: Golden State Warriors (54-21) vs. Sacramento Kings (25 - 52)

Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California

When: Saturday March 31, 2018; 7:00 PM (PST)

How to watch: CSNBA PLUS (*note that due to a baseball game, the Warriors get bumped to the secondary sports channel - 85 NBC Sports Bay Area Plus (SD), or 780 NBC Sports Bay Area Plus (HD) on XFinity

How to listen: 95.7 The Game

Blog Buddy: Sac Town Royalty

Injury Report

Warriors: Stephen Curry (knee), out, Klay Thompson (thumb), probable, Omri Casspi (ankle), questionable, Andre Iguodala (knee), doubtful

Kings: Iman Shumpert (foot), out, Zach Randolph (illness), probable, Garret Temple (ankle), out

One guy in and one guy out

The Warriors finally got a few of their all-stars back as Kevin Durant and Draymond Green returned to the lineup Thursday versus Milwaukee. It was all for not as Durant was ejected at half time after some choice words with a referee. Good news is that headed in the weekend, the Warriors are expecting Klay Thompson to be scheduled for a return. The bad news is the Andre Iguodala is now sidelined after he left Thursday’s game with knee soreness.

With the postseason quickly approaching, it’s hard to foresee what the lineup will look like as guys are going down by the day. Let’s hope that Green, Durant, and Thompson all stay in the lineup.

Bigger than basketball

The weight of this game has very little impact on the overall standings or playoff picture so instead of talk about the Kings’ lineup and outlook, I wanted to take a different approach.

The tragedy that occurred in the Sacramento community when 22-year-old Stephon Clark was gunned down in his own backyard by police officers just two weeks ago has been well documented in the news. Clark’s death has jarred the community and led to an immediate outcry through protests prior to a Kings’ game against the Atlanta Hawks.

After the game, the Kings’ owner, Vivek Ranadive made an impromptu speech to address the protesters who had temporarily blocked the entrances of the Golden 1 Center. Ranadive took the time to acknowledge that peaceful protesting was welcome and also emphasized that a change must be made.

In times of adversity, we often turn to leadership for words of wisdom to help steer our communities back in the right direction and lift us back up. Some are better at that than others.

Ranadive called for action and promised that the organization would work with the community to do what it can to prevent another tragedy like this. It was a bold statement but also a genuine response from the Kings’ owner.

Words do very little unless they are backed with proper actions and the Kings have backed their words. The team partnered with the Boston Celtics prior to last Sunday’s game to issue a powerful public service announcement.

The platform that our athletes have is extremely powerful as they are on the world’s stage. The NBA audience spans all generations, many ethnicities, and covers areas all over the globe.

The players can act as a voice of reason when others who want to speak out do not have the ability to. It is a privilege but also comes with great social responsibility. Their words carry more weight than the average person and are scrutinized by more ears from the media. When the players talk, we listen.

The Kings have continued to own up to their promise by also partnering with the Black Lives Matter activist group and Build Black movement. Accountability is something they have preached and they have committed in a big way.

As the New York Times has highlighted, the team has also partnered to help create an educational fund for Clark’s surviving children. In addition, they are working to help build educational opportunities for the black youth and other underserved members in the Sacramento community.

The actions and initiatives the Kings organization have made in the past few weeks are groundbreaking and could be the start of a new trend in the NBA. Social activism has been a large part of American society the last several years and the NBA has been at the forefront to support such causes.

I, for one, am immensely proud to be a fan of the NBA through Adam Silver’s open mindedness and the player’s call to action. Biased as I may be, the NBA is unlike any other league as they truly value their players’ and coaches’ thoughts and opinions.

A Change in culture

Vivek Ranadive and the Kings have been heavily criticized over the past few years for their coaching carousal and ineptitude in drafting the wrong players. Last year, they were wildly criticized for their return in the blockbuster trade for DeMarcus Cousins.

It’s easy to have laughed at them and seen them as the butt of many jokes. Now, in a different circumstance, they have risen to the occasion and acted as leaders off the court. They have set an example that each NBA team can mirror and work to influence their respective communities.

An organization’s culture starts at the top and if this is any indication of the type of culture the Kings want to build long term, then maybe they have reached a tipping point and just might be in good hands after all.

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