The NBA is scattered with Ex-Sacramento Kings (27 who’ve logged at least a regular season minute with the club) and the current roster has faced 18 former Kings through 18 games this season.
No veteran is more familiar with the departed than Jason Thompson, who’s appeared in 478 games with the Kings and shared Arco/Power Balance/Sleep Train Arena’s locker room with 71 different NBA athletes since he was drafted in 2008.
Thompson came to Sacramento as a 21-year-old from New Jersey with few connections. But luckily for him, veterans on the 2008 roster took the 12th overall pick under their wing.
“Brad Miller was kind of my big, Mikki Moore taught me a lot,” Thompson recalled with Cowbell Kingdom. “Kenny Thomas, Cisco (Francisco Garcia)…K-Mart (Kevin Martin), Beno (Udrih). Those guys definitely gave me a lot of insight in the league.”
Like any decent human being, Thompson valued the relationships with teammates forged through countless road trips and grueling practices. The longest-tenured active King remains friends with many of his old coworkers.
“I still keep in contact with Pat (Patrick Patterson) and Chuck (Hayes), James (Johnson), even some of the guys that don’t play anymore, Kenny and Brad, I still see them,” Thompson added. “K-Mart, Cisco, Beno, the list goes on. Sometimes Reke (Tyreke Evans), Jimmer (Fredette). The times that we play the team that they’re on, they hit me up and I still keep in contact with them.”
The Kings hosted the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, who employ Ex-Kings Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes and James Johnson.
The game before, Beno Udrih (Memphis Grizzlies) made a return to Sacramento.
A week prior, the Kings played the New Orleans Pelicans for the second time this season, as Tyeke Evans, Jimmer Fredette and John Salmons re-encountered their former employer.
For Ex-Kings, these games aren’t the typical blip in the schedule.
These showdowns are personal.
“We may talk smack before the game if we go to dinner the night before, but it’s always good (because) it’s a little different for them,” shared Thompson. “They’re obviously going to get revenge on the team they used to play for, rather than me since I’ve been here all my career.”
Thompson is in the third year of a five-year, $30 million extension he signed in July 2012. His irreplaceable post defense this season will likely fortify his presence in Sacramento for some time.
But if he ever plays for another NBA team, he should know somebody to couch surf.