By Charlie O. Mallonee
Nik Stauskas the newest member of the Sacramento Kings met the press on Saturday morning at the Kings’ practice facility. Stauskas was the eighth pick overall in the NBA Draft and was a surprise selection to many of the draft experts who have expressed displeasure with the Kings’ choice.
Stauskas said being drafted started to sink in while traveling to Sacramento. “I think yesterday having a lot of travel I had some time to sit on the plane … I got to take a couple of minutes to sit back and reflect on everything I’ve been through and the fact that I’m here now. I am extremely happy and excited to get to work.”
Stauskas wanted to make sure the fans in Sacramento know that he is here to improve and play hard. “I want to let people know here that I’m not satisfied with being just a NBA player. Obviously it has been my goal to get here now to this point. Now that I’m here I need to reevaluate things and make new goals. I’m a very motivated kid. I’ve had a chip on my shoulder my entire life and I want to keep it that way because I know that’s what’s going to keep me successful. Just moving forward, I want you guys (the press and fans) to know that I will be giving 150-percent every day to help this team win and help myself be successful as well.”
The press wanted to know more about the chip on Stauskas’ shoulder. “Well the chip on the shoulder started as young kid growing up just outside of Toronto where … no one really pays attention to basketball in Toronto (like) here in the U.S. Now they do because we have a lot of kids coming from there. I feel like I was never recognized and that kind of motivated me to show out and let people know how good I was. That’s been the case my whole life. And even when I got to Michigan my first year, I had players like Trey (Burke) and Tim (Hardaway,Jr.), Glenn Robinson (III). These were projected lottery picks, so I always felt like I had something to prove.
Stauskas wanted to be sure the Sacramento fans know that he is all about basketball. “Basketball is what I love to do. It’s what makes me happy. I hope that people will get the sense when I’m out there and I’m talking a little bit of trash that that’s just me out there having a little fun and enjoying the hard work I’ve put into it.”
Stauskas’ uncle was the person who introduced him to the game. “My uncle was the first one to invite me to play basketball for his club team when I was a young kid. I don’t what it was about the game of basketball, but I just seemed to love it and it made me happy. The more I played the better I got. The better I got the more I wanted to play. It just became a cycle and being a fan of the Toronto Raptors I looked up to bunch of NBA players … just watching them and the lives they live just inspired me to be like them.”
The next question to Stauskas was obvious – who was your favorite Toronto Raptor? “I loved Vince Carter when he was there. I got a chance when I was young to meet him and play with him when I was like nine-years old. That was a huge moment for me because was like god and he couldn’t do any wrong. To meet him, to see him play and to be the face of the franchise was one the things that motivated me to become an NBA player.”
Even though his plane did not arrive in Sacramento until 11:30 PM Friday night, Kings’ fans were there to greet Stauskas as exited the plane. That reception made an impression on the newest King. “Yeah, it’s awesome. I’m so excited to be here in a city where the fans are passionate about the team and supportive. Coming from just outside Toronto where no one really knew who I was and coming to Sacramento – a city I’ve never been to before – and have fans stay up late to welcome me at the airport is a dream come true and really made me feel happy. I want to send a special thank you to everyone who came out and supported me yesterday.”
The Nik Stauskas era has begun in Sacramento. If confidence and drive count (and they do), Stauskas is going to be an exciting addition to the Kings.