Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas (PHOTO: US PRESSWIRE)
SACRAMENTO, CA - Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas found out that he was headed to the NBA's All-Star Weekend in Houston just like everyone else - by watching television.
"I didn't know, I was at my house working on some things and kept getting some phone calls and seeing it on TV," Thomas said Friday afternoon. "I thank God, it's a blessing."
Thomas was a wildcard selection to the NBA's "Rising Stars Challenge" to "Team Chuck" - selected by TNT analyst and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley.
The game is an exhibition played in Houston on Feb. 16 featuring the league's top rookies and sophomore players.
The selection made quite the birthday present for Thomas, who turned 23 on Thursday.
The Kings finished their second straight practice in preparations for Saturday's game against the Utah Jazz at Sleep Train Arena. Sacramento's last game was in Utah on Monday - a 98-91 overtime loss to conclude a 1-5 road trip stretched over 11 days.
Head coach Keith Smart gave the team Tuesday and Wednesday off before returning to practice.
"These days off really helped us mentally and physically," said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins had a lot of time to reflect after being ejected in Monday's loss in Utah. He approached an official at halftime to question the technical foul he picked up in the second quarter.
Official Scott Foster issued Cousins a second technical during the halftime confrontation, which included an expletive from the 22-year-old center, which led to his third ejection of the season.
"I'm disappointed in myself that I let my emotions get the best of me," Cousins said. "I should have just walked away, but at the same time I needed an explanation why I got the first technical - which I still haven't gotten.
"It happens, I moved on from it," Cousins said, who was also ejected from the second matchup of the season against Utah, when he earned two technical during a 108-97 victory in Sacramento.
As fate would have it, the Kings play Utah again on Saturday at Sleep Train Arena and Sacramento's first game since the overtime loss in Salt Lake City.
Saturday's game is even more of an event as Sacramento grass-roots efforts will attempt to sellout Sleep Train Arena in attempt to show the NBA the support from the community to keep the Kings franchise in the Capitol city for many years to come.
The team's majority owners, the Maloof family recently agreed to a deal to sell the franchise to a Seattle based ownership group who would move the team away from Sacramento.
NBA Commissioner David Stern has given local fans hope by giving Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA All-Star a chance to make a pitch to the NBA's Board of Governors meeting in New York on April 17.
During that presentation, Johnson will show local investors willing to purchase the team and show an agreement to construct a new arena in downtown Sacramento.
Saturday's Kings vs. Jazz game will air on News10 beginning with a pregame special airing at 6:30 p.m. and tip off at 7:00 p.m.
By Sean Cunningham, SCunningham@News10.net