The Sacramento Kings have headed south for the first week of their training camp, making the six-hour drive all the way down from the capital of the Golden State to the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, for their first practices and scrimmages under new head coach Mike Malone. As we saw in Thursday's brief glimpse into the Washington Wizards' workouts, though, training camp isn't all circuit training and scheme installation — there's also room for fun diversions, like the one new owner Vivek Ranadivé introduced by way of an offer to several UCSB students on Wednesday:
(Vivek seems to have a thing for shooting contests.)
OK, admittedly, outshooting guard Jimmer Fredette — who knocked down 41.7 percent of his 3-pointers last season — isn't the easiest task, but the reward of being Ranadivé's guest for "any Kings game, anywhere in the country" is a pretty sweet one if you could manage to get hot at just the right time.
By the time the All-Star-Weekend-style competition rolled around, it had expanded to include three members of the Kings — Fredette (who reportedly made 10 of 15 shots from beyond the arc), recently extended and quietly charitable big man DeMarcus Cousins (9 for 15), and posterizing rookie Ben McLemore (an unofficial 7 for 15, according to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee). Fredette's mark, in particular, seemed a tough one to beat for the UCSB contingent ... except that said contingent included an alleged "16th-year senior" studying "surfboard aerodynamics" who bore a striking resemblance to a certain Hall of Famer and recent addition to the Kings' front office, right down to that sweet lefty stroke. And those sweet, sweet results.
I'm no math major, but by my count, that's 14 for 15 from long range — including a 12 for 12 start — for Chris Mullin, the 50-year-old Brooklynite who spent 16 years tickling the twine for the Golden State Warriors and Indiana Pacers. When you think about it, Mullin's near-flawless victory is probably the best thing that could've happened for all involved — the fans got treated to a fun show, the retiree gets to remind the young bucks he's still got it, the Kings' players are reminded that they've still got a long way to go if they want to be elite shooters, and Ranadivé doesn't have to go into his pocket to put up any students, because the dude who won the competition is already on the payroll. Total win-win.
As the old saw goes, the jumper's the last thing to go, and it seems pretty clear that Mully's isn't going anywhere any time soon. This makes me really want to see a 3-point shootout with the participants culled from the ranks of current NBA general managers and executives. We know Mullin can still shoot it. Paul George told us this summer that Indiana Pacers boss Larry Bird can still make it rain whenever he wants. Throw in the Atlanta Hawks' Danny Ferry (a 39.3 percent 3-point shooter during his NBA career), the Detroit Pistons' Joe Dumars (38.2 percent), the Boston Celtics' Danny Ainge (37.8 percent) and the Chicago Bulls' John Paxson (35.5 percent, and we know he can make 'em when it counts), and we can have a fun little preseason/midseason sideline item. Maybe it'd even lead to increased trade talks among their teams. Fun times for all involved, right? (Especially considering you know Bird would go into it trying to slaughter everyone else, even today.)
Here's more footage from the competition, courtesy of the Kings' official YouTube channel: