This blog has changed in the past year, mostly for the better but in some ways for the worse.
While our crack team of Kings/NBA reporters strive to provide insight, injury updates, analysis and extra interviews, we rarely offer much in the way of off-beat material anymore. But considering this season has been heavy on the negative and light on the positive, today is the day to break the trend. As such, here's a random assortment of content that should translate into 20 minutes or so of lighthearted content for your enjoyment.
GOODWILL TOWARD MEN (AND WOMEN AND CHILDREN)
Sure, there are times when it seems the sports world has a heart that's two sizes two small around the holiday season (see last season's Christmas Eve firing of Chicago Bulls coach Scott Skiles), but there is plenty of good work being done this time of year as well.
The Kings' seventh-annual "Season of Giving" efforts began on Friday, when a group of Kings players and a host of others made a surprise visit to Sacramento's Shriners Hospital for Children's patient holiday party. Jason Thompson, Bobby Brown, Donté Greene and Quincy Douby joined Monarchs player Rebekkah Brunson, Monarchs assistant coach Monique Ambers, members of the Kings Dance Team, and mascot Slamson to provide much-needed fun to the ailing kids.
The "Season of Giving" continued on Sunday, when Spencer Hawes treated 25 military families to a holiday shopping spree at Best Buy in Natomas. The second-year player donated $200 of his own money to each of the families, and Wells Fargo pitched in with $100 extra per family as well.
There are three more events scheduled as well. The next up is on Wednesday, when center Brad Miller will be taking 25 kids from Big Brothers Big Sisters on a shopping spree at Toys R' Us in Rocklin (charges on his own credit card as well). Miller was a member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program as a kid in Indiana, and his his "big brother" served as a father fi=ure and mentor. Wells Fargo will pitch in an additional $100 per family here as well.
On Sunday, Bobby Jackson and Kevin Martin will be opening their wallets to treat 50 children to a shopping spree at a location that has yet to be announced with Wells Fargo chipping in an additional $100 again. Then on Dec. 23, Kings and Monarchs players will donate a "Holiday in a Box" to 200 families in need in the Sacramento region. The boxes will include turkey dinners from Raley's complete with stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables and pumpkin pie.
Lastly on the charity front, even old Kings players have been getting involved. Since Nov. 1, Chris Webber's restaurant, Center Court, has been the site of an effort intended to help save the struggling Stanford Settlement in Sacramento. On NFL game days, customers who want to wine and dine while watching their favorite team can ask the bartender to fill out a "Touchdowns for Tots" form. You pick your team, then pick the amount per touchdown you want to donate and the cash goes to a worthy cause.
MORE GOOD CHEER
Artest and his happy home
Ever since Ron Artest was traded to Houston, I've tried to respect those of you who cringe every time you see his name by avoiding the urge to mention material relating to the former Kings small forward.
But this is different. This is about life more than hoops, about his precious daughter, Diamond, and the struggles she's been through fighting cancer. I will never forget being in Portland, when Artest grabbed his IPhone in the locker room after a game and showed me a picture of the tumor that had been taken off of his daughter's kidney. I, like everyone else, was rooting for her all along the way.
Well just the other day, a video link was e-mailed to me that led me to a 27-minute, Day-In-The-Life type of documentary of Artest in Houston. As I watched with mild interest, my eyes bulged when Diamond jumped on the screen and started begging her daddy to help her put up a tent. By all appearances, her road to recovery has continued and there is normalcy in her life again. A happy ending, to be sure.
Here's the video - Artest at home in Houston
An all-positive outlook on tonight's game
I caught up with Lakers.com writer Mike Trudell by phone on my way to Kings practice on Monday, and we spent nearly 20 minutes talking all things Kings and doing so with rosy glasses firmly in place. Among the topics was Trudell's opinion that Beno looks like actor Paul Rudd.
For that interview, click here.
Enjoy the drama
Is it possible that the losing could be entertaining? Mark Burnett thinks so.
The creator of Survivor and so many other reality TV series had a fascinating interview with KHTK's Rise Guys on Monday in which he discussed the reality that a series based on the Kings could be on its way.
The series, as has been reported, would be dubbed "Rebuilding the Kingdom." Judging by Burnett's standards for a successful show - which he says are conflict, drama and interesting characters - one might think Kings coach Reggie Theus should have no reason whatsoever to fear for his job.
To hear that interview, click here.
THE DONTE' GREENE SHOW
I've been way slow to shed light on a quality Kings.com production this season, as the silly ways of rookie small forward Donte' Greene have been hilariously captured on the Donte' Greene show this season.
The show is already two episodes in, and you'll find both parts of Episode Two below. To see Episode 1, click on this link to see the whole collection.
TIME-KILLING WITH YOUR FAVORITE KINGS
We've already plugged this a good bit, but don't forget about the trivia game where you test your knowledge of Kings players of today and yesteryear.
CLICK HERE TO PLAY THE GAME - Sam Amick