SALT LAKE CITY — When Domantas Sabonis and De'Aaron Fox took the floor at Jon M. Hunstman Center for their first All-Star practice, there were plenty of Sacramento Kings fans in the arena cheering on their two All-Stars.
I spoke with a group of Kings while heading into the arena, and they told me their whole plan on Sunday is to be the group that gets Vivant Arena to chant "light the beam."
The energy was great inside the building while the stars of both the East and West took center stage for games and shootarounds. The Beam Team took part in a 2 person shooting drill for charity, and the guys came out firing.
Beam Team making shots for charity during practice. pic.twitter.com/9UQ6spo9wH— Vince Miracle (@VMCENTER) February 18, 2023
From the practice stage, things headed to the media room where I spoke with a few familiar faces in Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. The two former Kings — and now Indiana Pacers — guards are both taking part in the NBA 3-point Contest on Saturday, and both seem like they have Kevin Huerter as someone you have to keep their eye on.
"I mean all of us our shooters. There's not one you can really point out. I think Dame is going to be really good. Kevin (Huerter) is going to be good,” Hield said. “It's going to be a good contest."
Asked Buddy his thoughts on De'Aaron Fox becoming an All-Star this year and who he believes is his biggest competitor for the 3-point shoot out pic.twitter.com/qnwTquC6o1— Vince Miracle (@VMCENTER) February 18, 2023
Huerter enters the contest as a (+550) underdog, according to our friends over at DraftKings, while Hield (+425) has slightly better odds, and Haliburton (+600) is considered a tad longer shot to win.
But while Haliburton didn't talk too much about the 3-point shootout, I did ask him about his thoughts on Fox also becoming an All-Star this year, and the potential chance of the two being teammates again in the game.
"I'm excited for him man. I'm happy for him. Obviously, the trade has worked out well for both of us. It's just exciting to see... It'll be fun. It'll be fun. I'm curious to see how this all plays out, but I’m excited about it."
Domantas Sabonis was all smiles when hitting the podium. He was told that Keegan Murray is expecting him to go for a triple-double in the All-Star game. I asked him about the idea of he and Fox being on separate teams, and if he would be willing to take on the challenge of guarding his teammate.
"No. He's too fast,” Sabonis said with a smile.
Fox came up to the podium with a ton of energy. You can tell he's walking with a lot of confidence as a first-time All-Star. He even had a special guest, New Orleans Pelicans forward, Trey Murphy stop by from Complex to ask him a question. There was a lot to this 20-minute presser with the Kings star guard, who just seems to carry the Kings' name and culture proudly and with such high regard.
"I don't want this to be something where we're here for just one year. I want this to be something that carries over for years,” Fox said.
All-Star Saturday night — with the Skills Challenge up first, then the 3-point contest, followed by the Dunk Contest — will begin at 5 p.m. PT on Saturday night on TNT. And Sabonis and Fox will represent the Kings in the All-Star game on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. PT.
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