Vlade Revisits His Kings Years
What is life for you like after the NBA?
“Life after my NBA career is fun. Not that much like when I played because it was much easier to play basketball than being on the other side of sports. I’m now President of the Olympic Committee of Serbia. I’m trying to help elite athletes become better and be ready for the Olympic Games in London. I’m also doing a lot of humanitarian work. One of those programs is Basketball Without Borders. It’s something I am very proud to be a part of. It’s hard to believe the little program we started 10 years ago is now a success all over the world — bringing people together and showing kids that basketball is really a great, great thing.”
What do your day-to-day activities entail?
“Basically, I have more time to spend with my kids. Playing in the NBA, I didn’t have the opportunity because we had so many games. Now I spend more time with them and, like I said, I’m the President of the Olympic Committee and I’m trying to help athletes.”
Do you keep in touch with many of your former Kings teammates?
“Yes, I still do keep in touch with my teammates from Sacramento … and we always chat about our days in Sacramento.”
How would you characterize Bobby Jackson as a teammate?
“Bobby Jackson is a great guy and a great teammate — somebody who played basketball with a lot of energy, and I’m not surprised that he was one of the most popular Kings in Sacramento.”
What was your relationship like with Chris Webber on the court?
“Chris Webber is — with Magic Johnson — best among my teammates in terms of basketball. An All-Star player, I learned a lot from him and I’m sure he learned a lot from me. We were very good teammates through the six years on the Kings.”
How important was it to you to keep the team loose in order to be successful?
“After 82 games in a season, you have to keep it loose in the locker room because in the tough situations and the tough games the energy and the closeness between teammates is basically what pushes you over the edge (to) win the games. I think we had a lot of success, and it’s why I always said my six years in Sacramento were the most enjoyable years throughout my career.”
What is one of your favorite pranks you instigated?
“I had a lot of them but I’ll pick one you’ll really like – it’s about Bobby Jackson. He lost some (card games) on a plane and, obviously, we were so close that we didn’t want to take each others’ money. But I told him, ‘You don’t need to pay me, but you need to be in your underwear and check-in to the hotel in New York.’ So that happened. We were laughing and had a lot of fun — ask Bobby about that!”
How close were you with Kings broadcasters Grant Napear, Jerry Reynolds and Gary Gerould?
“Grant Napear is a very good friend of mine and somebody I have a lot of respect for. He’s somebody who’s doing his business with a lot of patience, and I’m very happy to know him.
“Jerry Reynolds is another guy who is a Sacramento Kings icon and somebody who worked with Napear for a long, long time. I had a lot of fun through my six years with Jerry.
“Gary is another guy who has worked for the Kings for decades and has a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge of basketball. Somebody who I respect a lot, and I wish him all the best.”
Do you have any funny stories about playing against Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson?
“Unfortunately, I don’t because he is a guy I didn’t like much back then because he was playing for Phoenix. He was a great player, and (the Suns) beat us in the Semi-Finals even though we were the best team that year. Kevin is a great guy, obviously, and I respect him a lot. I wish him all the success as Mayor of Sacramento.”
As one of Sacramento fans’ all-time favorite players, what message would you like to share with them?
“Thank you, thank you, thank you — it’s the only thing I can say right now to the fans in Sacramento because they were a big part of our success. In those years, they were the best in the League, and I wish them luck.”