With the exception of last night’s thriller, the Sacramento Kings aren’t exactly playing must-see basketball these days. So when one of the hip-hop’s biggest acts claims to be a Kings fan, you can’t help but raise an eyebrow. (Especially considering he hails from Miami, where a championship brand of hoops is currently being played.)
But Rick Ross puts his money where his mouth is. The Grammy-nominated rapper split time sitting in the Maloofs’ courtside seats and luxury box during the Kings’ 131-127 victory over the Warriors. Seeing Ross was a surprise to everyone in attendance, including players.
“It’s good when one of the great rappers in the game right now shows us love and comes to a game unexpectedly,” said Kings power forward Jason Thompson after the game. “Especially with a win, too.”
Ross definitely has fans in the Kings’ locker room, which he did visit after the game. Aaron Brooks hasn’t had a chance to watch the chart-topping rapper live in concert (the Kings were in Los Angeles when Ross’ Maybach Music Tour stopped over at Sleep Train Arena earlier this month) so seeing him sit at the sidelines was a bit of an experience.
“It was good to see him support,” Brooks said. “We need all the support we can get. So you know, he was in the building and it kind of got me amped a little bit too.”
At halftime, I caught up the man known as the Teflon Don for a one-on-one conversation and gleaned some insight on his self-proclaimed Kings’ fandom.
CK: So what brings you to this Kings’ game tonight?
RR: Well really man, I’m just a fan of the Kings. I’ve been watching (DeMarcus) Cousins a long time. I think he has an extremely bright future in front of him. And plus, this is a young crowd. This is a young team. It’s a group full of young dudes that I’m a fan of.
RR: You know most definitely I love my Miami Heat. But these are my two franchises right here – the Sacramento Kings and the Miami Heat. I was just in L.A. for the movie premiere of Django Unchained, which I collaborated with Quentin Tarantino and Jamie Foxx on the record that could possibly be Academy Award Nominated. So you know, I was there yesterday; I knew my team was playing today. We made a few calls. Shout out to my brother J.J. (the Maloofs’ special assistant) and we made it happen. They rolled out the red carpet for me, so that made the night even that much more special, so here we are. You may see me at a lot more games.
CK: When did you start following the Kings? Is your fandom a recent development or has this been long-time thing?
RR: Nah, you know I’ve been a fan really since the Mike Bibby years. You know what I’m saying? That’s when I really became a fan of the Kings. You know I just pretty much kept it to myself, but as I travel more and I’m more on the west coast doing some other things, if my time permits, I’ll be here.
CK: You have any relationships with any of the current Kings players on the roster?
RR: Not really. Not really. Not other than just watching them play. You know what I’m saying?
CK: I’m sure they would like to meet you. It seemed like when you were featured on the big screen after you took your seats here courtside, some of the players got a little bit distracted.
RR: I’ma make sure we kick it. You know this my first game here, so I’ma make sure I get to know all the players and I’m here to show love and some support.
CK: So overall, what’s your assessment as a basketball fan, a basketball connoisseur of these two teams tonight? You’ve got the Sacramento Kings – they’re struggling right now. You’ve also got the Golden State Warriors, who are off to their best start in two decades. What do you think of both teams?
RR: I wish both franchises the best, but I follow the Kings. I support the Kings, you know what I’m saying? We off to a solid early start (in this game) as well. So we gonna work it out, we gon’ grind it out.
CK: You mentioned DeMarcus Cousins briefly earlier. The Kings also have Tyreke Evans, another young guy who’s got a lot of talent as well. What do you think about him?
RR: I’m just getting up on him – you know what I’m saying? These dudes out here reppin’ tonight. Hopefully we’ll see some more energy, we’ll seal up some more holes. But as far as everybody who doing their thing, I just want them to go their hardest and I’ma support them either way it go.
CK: Alright, any final thoughts you want to share with fellow Kings’ fans out there before we wrap things up?
RR: You know, I’ma be here. We gon’ have a great year. It’s gonna be a solid year. It’s gonna be a fun year. You know what I’m saying? It’s a cool halftime – the food’s smelling good, hopefully we’ll bump into a few more sexy ladies and I’m just going to hang out and enjoy it man. I’ma be a supporting role player on the sideline.