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Recap: Kings Celebrate Black History Month

The Sacramento Kings are committed to amplifying diverse voices year-round and in February the team dedicates the month to celebrating and honoring Black history, culture and futures. Kings Black History Month, powered by SMUD, builds upon the pillars of the organization’s “Pledge to Our Black Community” launched in June 2020, aimed at advancing racial equity through candid conversations, supporting Sacramento’s Black-owned businesses, investing in Black futures, highlighting local Black artists and honoring Black community leaders.

Honoring Local Leaders

Aligning Black Culture through Music and Basketball

On February 2, as the team hosted the Brooklyn Nets, GRAMMY® award-winning rapper, singer, producer and actor Coolio sat down with local artists and nonprofits for a studio session presented by Arden Fair in Golden 1 Center’s Music Recording Studio to discuss his journey and passion and celebrate their work in our community. Participating nonprofits included the NAACP, Improve Your Tomorrow and Sacramento Housing Alliance. Coolio then performed his hit song Gangsta’s Paradise at halftime.

Team Highlights West African Culture

On February 9, as the Kings faced the Timberwolves, the team highlighted West African culture and heritage with a special look at Kings forward Chimezie Metu’s journey to the NBA.

“There’s a lot of us in the NBA with Nigerian roots,” said Metu. “You’re never too far from achieving what you want to achieve. Just keep pushing through whatever it is.”

In addition, African dance by Duniya Dance Group was performed and art by Ike Slimster was displayed in conjunction with African music mixed by DJ Lisa Nwoye. Local nonprofits including Project Digital Africa, which works to bridge the digital gap in Africa, and Africa House Sacramento, a multipurpose cultural and educational center, shared their missions on the concourse during the game.

The Importance of Business in Sports

On February 17, Florin Square and the Sacramento Kings Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council held a panel discussion to highlight Black economic justice and uplift local Black businesses. The panel included Kings Vice President of Technology Eric King, Ticket Sales Account Manager Justin McKinley, Social Responsibility Manager Veronne Clark, Premium Membership Services Account Manager Ryan Smith and Social Producer Terrell Adams. The speakers spoke on personal experiences within their careers and shared Kings social justice initiatives, examples of collaboration and innovative solutions within the organization.

Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Investing and Minority Entrepreneurs

On February 24, prior to their game against the Denver Nuggets, the Kings hosted a panel titled “The Future of Tech & Investing: Supporting Black & Diverse Entrepreneurs” to encourage young, Black, diverse, aspiring entrepreneurs in the Sacramento region. The panel, moderated by Kings Analyst Matt Barnes, featured successful entrepreneurs who spoke about important topics in the technology and investing space and provided mentorship. It included Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé, entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist, and two-time NBA All-Star Baron Davis, Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital Arlan Hamilton, former NBA player, investor and entrepreneur Metta World Peace and Special Advisor for Economic Mobility and Opportunity for Governor Gavin Newsom Michael Tubbs. The event also featured special guests including entrepreneur and Multi-Platinum Songwriter Michaela Shiloh and entrepreneur, feminist, activist and Grammy Award Winning Musician Madison Calley Jenkins.

The panelists spoke to a group of students and corporate partners about the abundance of opportunity and how investors are looking for individuals who are ferocious.

Showcasing Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Following the tech panel on February 24, the organization recognized the impact and celebrated the history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). During the game, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. showed off their stepping and various Black fraternities tabled on the concourse to bring awareness to their organizations. In addition, local nonprofits and organizations including the United College Action Network, Inc. (U-CAN) were present to provide fans resources. During halftime, the Black National Anthem was performed and Lift Every Voice was sung by Vadia Hubbard and signed by Juanita Butler.

Ankr, a leader in Web3 infrastructure, and Trajectory Foundation presented an HBCU scholarship of $20,000 to Marcellus Carpenter III, a Grant High School senior who intends to major in engineering at an HBCU. Marcellus has been accepted to multiple HBCUs, including Grambling State University, Tuskegee University and Tennessee State University. He is excited to further his education at an HBCU for the experience, culture and spirit the universities provide and for the opportunity to immerse in the minds of those who have the same history as him.

To continue investment in HBCU students, this year the NBA is providing a unique fellowship program aimed at providing career development opportunities in the business of basketball to undergraduate and graduate students. The 10-week paid summer internship with teams including the Kings will run from June to August.

Kings Coaches and Broadcasters Share Inside Perspectives

Kings Director of Player Development and Assistant Coach Rico Hines and Analyst Matt Barnes sat down, as part of the Beyond the Paint series, to discuss their journeys from UCLA to the NBA and ways they have used basketball to open doors in their careers. The discussion, moderated by Kyle Draper, focused on the struggles they’ve faced as black men and how basketball facilitated their career development.

When asked what people can do to support Black athletes, Barnes said, “You want to see us win outside of sports, really be alongside of us, really be an advocate for the movement and everything we’re trying to move today. We’re not going to see the benefits, it’s for our kids.”

This candid conversation explored life beyond basketball and when asked what advice he would give to young people, Hines said “Find out what your big picture is, know your big picture, work your butt off and grind. Do people right, treat people right, be a good person. Let the chips fall where they may and no matter what you’ll be successful.”

Kings Interim Head Coach Alvin Gentry reflected on his experience attending segregated schools.

“It was a challenge, every day,” said Gentry, “A lot of the white students felt we were invading their territory, but some accepted us.” Gentry spoke of his parents being an inspiration during his childhood, telling him, “You’re not better than anybody, but you’re definitely not less than anyone else. You’re somebody special, and you deserve to be treated special.”

Team Takes in Black History and Culture

During their East Coast road trip, the team visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., the only national museum dedicated to the experiences, history and culture of Black Americans. During the trip, the team had the opportunity to view artifacts and hear stories showcasing Black history and culture in America.

“It’s very introspective and very provocative in the way it makes you think about sports in the role of our history,” said Kings Play-By-Play Announcer Mark Jones. “Just a really fantastic time to hear some of these stories and to learn from the journey that this country has already traveled and how we can make it better.”

“No matter how many times you come here, there’s always different things you can learn,” said Kings forward Harrison Barnes. “It was really just a good experience to learn and be immersed in our history.”

Inspiration through Spoken Word

The Kings partnered with local poet and Director of SAYS, Patrice Hill, to create a spoken word video in reflection of the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr.

“Done are the days spent talking about it - we are going to be about it, shout about it, be loud about it,” said Hill. “Social justice is our calling; we are more than proud about it.”

Highlighting Local Black Artists

In February, the Kings amplified the work of local Black artists from the Black Artist Fund during their games, on the screens at the Grand Entrance to Golden 1 Center, near the corner of L and 5th Streets and on the team’s social channels. The artists highlighted were:

Highlighting Sacramento’s Black-Owned Businesses

The Kings highlighted local Black-owned businesses by featuring them at their home games. The businesses highlighted were:

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During Black History Month and year-round, the Kings are committed to supporting the pursuit of racial justice through sustained action.

For Black Lives Matter resources, including articles, books, videos, podcasts, Black-owned businesses and more, visit Kings.com/BLM.

For more information on the Kings ongoing efforts to honor, highlight and support the Black community, visit Kings.com/Community.