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Garrett Temple on Kings owner’s response to protests: ‘It’s a far cry from what other owners in other sports would have done’

Vivek Ranadivé let the fans know it wasn’t business as usual

On Thursday night, the Sacramento Kings were scheduled to play a home game at Golden 1 Center against the visiting Atlanta Hawks in front of a crowd of more than 17,500 people. But hours before the game, demonstrators shut down nearby freeways and formed a human chain in front of the doors of the nearly 2-year-old building, blocking thousands of fans from entering the arena. The crowd was there in protest of the fatal shooting of 22-year-old black man Stephon Clark by two Sacramento Police Department officers on March 18. While investigating reports of someone breaking windows of vehicles in a South Sacramento neighborhood, the officers came across Clark at his grandparents’ home, and within minutes each had fired 10 rounds at him in the backyard.

As the demonstrations grew outside, the Kings decided to lock all the entrance doors, leaving fewer than 2,000 fans inside to catch the game, which ended in a 105-90 Sacramento victory. Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé sent a message of support to both the protesters outside the arena and the family of Clark, which includes his two small children.

“We are so very sorry for your loss,” Ranadivé said. “We at the Kings recognize people’s abilities to protest peacefully, and we respect that. We here at the Kings realize that we have a big platform. It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously, and we stand here before you, old, young, black, white, brown, and we are all united in our commitment.

“We recognize that it is not just business as usual, and we are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting in our own community. We are going to work really hard to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”

Kings forward Garrett Temple, in his eighth season in the league, was one of the players in the Golden 1 Center on Thursday night. Although he didn’t play against the Hawks (he sprained his ankle earlier in the week), Temple is very involved in the Sacramento community. He spoke with The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears on Friday morning.

Were you familiar with the story about Stephon Clark prior to [Thursday] night?

Yeah, I was familiar with it. I was actually at Sacramento High because I’ve kind of adopted that school, and I go over there and talk to a few of the kids over there about different issues that they’re facing and things that they’re trying to get done. And the kid went to Sac High School. One of the administrators that was in the discussion with us mentioned to us that the kid that got shot Sunday night was a guy that went to Sac High, and that’s when I found out. A lot of the students didn’t even know about it. That’s when I found out about it. I think that was Monday or Tuesday. So I knew, and then I heard different things of what was going on in terms of if he had a gun or a crowbar or just a cellphone, eventually. And then I saw the video. So I had seen the video, all of that, before last night.

When did you get wind that something was going on?

I didn’t get wind of it until [Thursday] night … before the game. I was getting treatment on my ankle because I sprained my ankle bad, so I wasn’t going to play [Thursday] night. I’m getting treatment on my ankle and they said they’re out there protesting. And then we put on the news and we saw it outside. So it was literally probably about 45 minutes before game time that I realized that.

How would you describe the oddity of the environment and everything that was going on?

It was odd, man. Real odd. It reminded me — I’ve been in games that were delayed before because of the floor, because of different reasons. And it was like that, but usually when the game actually goes on, it’s like a regular game because there are the people in the stands. In this case, there were only 2,500 people still in the stands. It felt like a little fan fest or the open practice that teams have during preseason where a few fans come and you just play a scrimmage with your team. That’s what it felt like. I can only imagine how it felt to play in, but sitting on the sideline, that’s the vibe I felt. And honestly, personally, it was kind of feeling weird, like, ‘Should we be playing right now?’ That was the thought that went through my head as well.

Did any other players echo that?

Yeah, I want to say one of the coaches may have said, ‘This feels weird, man, I don’t even know if we should be playing.’ … Vince [Carter] said the same thing. Because everybody, again, it was just a weird environment. It felt weird. Weird vibe. It’s kind of like, we have a job to do; this is literally our job. The people that came to watch this, this is an outing for them, but this is our job. But it’s still, like, it feels weird to be playing right now.

What do you think about what Vivek Ranadivé said after?

I think that was pretty good, especially coming from him in a situation where the protests obviously had an effect on the game in terms of the profit that was made, because of the amount of people that weren’t able to come in, and you have to refund tickets but also concessions. So for him to go up there and still shed a positive light on the protest and the right to protest and say that the Kings stand with the community and those efforts, I think that was pretty powerful, actually. It’s a far cry from what other owners in other sports would have done when it comes to protests and things of that nature that affect, I guess, the game and the people that have come to the game. So I think it was pretty good for him to say what he said, and we’ve got to figure out ways to change what’s going on.

Where does Sacramento go from here as a city?

We’ve got to continue to move forward. We have to figure out what, just as a country, but maybe Sacramento can be the lead dog in trying to figure out what do we need to change in order to see the change that we want. I’ve been saying to a few people this morning, it’s tough to change a person’s mindset, it’s tough to change somebody’s bias. If somebody has a bias against a certain group of people, that’s been built up in them since birth, since childhood. Media, society, has built that bias in their mind for whatever reason, whatever experiences they’ve had. So it’s obvious that some cops see black men as a threat, and I don’t know if there’s a way that you can change a person’s viewpoint … but I think the thing that you can do is change the consequence that comes with taking a man’s life when he is literally no threat to you. And you can say, ‘I thought he was a threat.’ Well, if that’s the case, I liken it to different things: If I’m driving and I don’t think somebody’s in front of me, and I hit them, and they die, ‘Well, I thought he was past my car,’ but I still go to jail for manslaughter. It’s not OK to just think someone has a gun, and because you’re a cop you say, ‘Gun,’ and it’s OK to let off 20 rounds. That person’s dead. ‘Well, I thought he had a gun.’ That’s not OK, and until the consequences fit the action, then it’s going to continue to be like that. I’m going to be honest: It’s less about an individual being racist towards that person, but the system that our society has created has made that cop, white or black or Hispanic, view that black man in a hood, or that black man in general, view him as a threat no matter what. They are on edge a lot more. They’re scared. And whatever they have in their hand, they’re going to view it as a threat because the man himself is a threat. We can’t change the way people think, necessarily, but I think we can change the consequences, and I think that’s the next step: trying to figure out ways to make sure we get the DA [district attorney] and the prosecutor to try to find a way to prosecute these people that have killed unarmed people.

Is that a game you’ll always remember?

Yeah, no question. I was talking to my former security of the Kings, who I am still real close with. And we were talking about it, and he was like, ‘The protests, it’s good because it shouldn’t be business as usual.’ And I agree with him. And that’s what Vivek said; he said, ‘It’s not business as usual.’ We’re not happy that people didn’t get inside, but we understand. It’s not business as usual because it shouldn’t be business as usual. Something happened that should not have happened, so life should not just go on like nothing happened. I think the protesters did what they were supposed to do. I think they did what they meant to do in terms of changing the environment of a game and bringing light to what happened. I’m talking to you because of that. That was on ESPN [Thursday] night because of that. Stephon Clark is his name; it was ringing because of what they did at an NBA basketball game. I’m definitely going to remember that game for the rest of my life even though I had a boot on and I didn’t play in it.

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.

Martenzie Johnson is a senior writer for Andscape. His favorite cinematic moment is when Django said, "Y'all want to see somethin?"