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Sean Cunningham | Sacramento Kings Reporter, FOX40 Northern California

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence
The Truth Network Radio
April 18, 2023 5:46 am

Sean Cunningham | Sacramento Kings Reporter, FOX40 Northern California

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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April 18, 2023 5:46 am

Sacramento Kings reporter for FOX40 Northern California Sean Cunningham joins the show after Kings/Warriors.


This is Flee for This Little Light, the podcast about falling in love with music. I started a nonprofit music school about 20 years ago called the Silver Lake Conservatory of Music. The reason that I started doing this podcast was music education. I'll be speaking with Rick Rubin, Thundercat, Stewart Copeland, Margo Price, Corey Henry, Cynthia Erivo, Sheila E, and Patti Smith.

Please listen and follow This Little Light, a presentation of Cadence 13 on the Odyssey app or wherever you get your podcasts. We are pleased to welcome Sean Cunningham, who is there right in the center of the action reporter and producer for Fox 40. Also part of the Kings Radio Network as a reporter, Sean, let's start with the end, the postgame. What's your reaction to what we heard from Draymond Green, his explanation about how this all unfolded?

Yeah, I mean, first of all, good to be with you. Yeah, it's a it's a little it's a little head scratcher because I had a great view of it myself from, you know, having to shoot for our station here in Sacramento and be this multimedia journalist that we're all doing and had a great look at it. And yeah, I can understand a little bit of the frustration, certainly with Domas grabbing his leg. Obviously, they got to had a little dust up in in in the first game that looked very much like Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone. If you remember that in the NBA finals with the Bulls and the Jazz, where they get tied up and keep falling down and not letting each other up and Draymond and Domas had that same moment kind of in the same spot as it happened tonight in game two.

There was a little bit of a of him grabbing his his leg. But I think also, you know, there was these warriors to the exception to Domas kind of flinging play Thompson around right before that. So but certainly nothing excuses that move or Draymond looks like in Domic and Sue and just absolutely stomping on Domas Savonis. And Amy, we literally just got out of the locker room about 10 minutes ago, almost 15 now after speaking with Domas, who had, you know, x rays that were obviously negative and go under other undergo some further testing. And everyone in that locker room saying not only is there no place for that, but what they're choosing their words carefully. But, you know, they've got a teammate down on the ground and there's concern for the health. And Domas is riling up the crowd or excuse me, Draymond Green is riling up the crowd as he did. And there was some exception to that. So as we're talking, I'm watching the sequence again. It's on your Twitter, the whole thing for Fox 40.

I don't know. It's I understand why Draymond Green's reputation precedes him, but also he did have his foot grabbed. And I kind of felt like it maybe could have been a little more equitable flagrant one for each of them. It certainly wasn't an accident that Savonis grabbed his leg.

I mean, that that was intentional as well. So the officials did go back and issue a foul. But obviously the flagrant two for Draymond changes a lot. So then what about what about the moments following that?

How did you see the momentum shift in the game? Yeah, I think what Harrison Barnes kind of huddled up the team and as Kevin Hurter said after the game, when when Harrison speaks, we listen. I mean, he chooses his moments to get vocal with his with his team. And it doesn't happen all the time.

He's not a raw guy. He doesn't have to have to do that too often. But it was a moment where he definitely did that. And they all listened. And there was, you know, there was a moment where everyone it worked in their favor. The crowd certainly got into it. They love to see that Draymond Green was ejected.

And and look, Davey on Mitchell had his career game. Malik Monk has been a guy who's been absolutely just feeding off of this crowd here in Sacramento. This is a fan base, as you all know, who just hasn't even had a taste of any type of success for winning season, let alone being in the in the first round of a playoff series with, you know, their big brothers down in the Bay Area who are a dynasty. So, yeah, there it's been some some rowdy times. And I think they fed off of it. And yeah.

And who would have thought? I mean, there's you could make an argument that this Kings team and maybe even the crowd, which I didn't expect, because I look, I said before the series that this Golden State Warriors team, there's nothing they haven't haven't seen, nothing that they won't expect and haven't have an experience already. And here they are looking like a team that not only is feeling some pressure, but might have a team that has remained composed and and and and poised and might be in their head a little bit as they go to game three in San Francisco. How how do they remain poised and composed when they do not have the experience? Where does that come from?

No. And I asked that question at nauseum this week, Amy, and if they all circle right back to not only just Mike Brown, who obviously was Steve Kerr's associate head coach during this time. But you can look at literally three other coaches on this coaching staff that come from the Warriors.

Luke Loucks, who had the experience over there, and of course, Leandro Barbosa, the Brazilian blur who was so, you know, very well liked in that in that in that team. But they know the identity and the DNA of this Warriors team very, very well. And, you know, that can only go so well. So far, I mean, certainly talent is still going to win out and you still have to go play the games. But they are on these guys not to fall into the gamesmanship. If you go back to game one, there's moments where Draymond Green is chirping it at Trey Lyles and he has this kind of like Michaela Maroney kind of smirk at him when he smiles at him, just totally amused Draymond's antics. And then you look at Malik Monk, who is like almost the perfect guy to go toe to toe with with the verbal barbs and and Malik is, in my opinion, the heart and soul of this team. I mean, look, Thomas Savonis and Darren Fox are the best players. But this team looks like they're at their best when they've got that swagger and that attitude of Malik Monk, who obviously can score. But when he's not turning the ball over, playing some pretty nice defense and obviously being a playmaker there at their absolute best. Sean Cunningham is with us from Sacramento, where the Kings take a 2-0 lead after what was a record playoff drought. They have got the Warriors, I don't want to say on the ropes, but they got the Warriors right where they want them. He's a sports reporter and producer for Fox 40 and also part of Kings Radio. It's after hours with Amy Lawrence, CBS Sports Radio. You mentioned that that element of Kings playing in the shadow of the Warriors.

I actually mentioned it last hour on the show, so I'm glad you brought it up. How much does that play into the dynamic of the series, that it is the Warriors who are close to them, not just geographically, but also same Bay Area, and a lot of the fans are splitting? Yeah, I mean, it's been it's been clockwork. I've covered this team since 02, and I grew up in the city. And when Kings season ends, we hang up the Kings credential and we jump on the Warriors to cover them as far as they go in the post because we are an extension of the Bay Area. You go in there, you're covering these Giants, Niners, Raiders when they were here.

I mean, that's just how far back this thing goes. And you were very familiar with the Warriors as well. But like the Kings during that time, for as bad as they've been, you're talking 17 years, 16 seasons. You could argue at a time like you still have passionate fans and they still sell out this building. But you can argue that they've sort of lost their market at times during this championship run. Let's face it, you look at the Sacramento Stock and Modesto, Yuba City, Fairfield, this whole area, and they're all in the footprint of the Bay Area.

So they get these games, they see everything. And I think the Kings take exception to it. And if you look at just the way they've finished the season, look, obviously, the Warriors had their their their their struggles. They finished sixth and the Kings, who are third, everyone saying, oh, they want to take the Kings. Everyone wants the Kings.

And rightfully so. They don't have the playoff experience. But the Kings in a weird way, really talking to these players, even the week leading up to the playoffs, talking about wanting to play the Warriors, not just because of Mike Brown, but to really kind of vindicate what they've done in this season alone.

And them thinking that, look, doesn't matter how far they go in this in these NBA playoffs, but taking down the Warriors really means something as opposed to taking down a team like the Clippers or the Pelicans. What happened in the first quarter with the nine turnovers and also the Kings missing what was their first 10 plus triples? Yeah, it's just ugly basketball.

And I didn't have that on my bingo card to see such a low scoring affair after the first quarter. And just, you know, absolute garbage on the court. But it's Malik Monk, I'm telling you, he just has this this weird way of turning around a basketball game. Here he comes on, hits a couple threes. Kevin Hurter kind of warms up and and off they go.

They're off to the races and you have another, you know, high scoring affair. So, yeah, I mean, that's the one thing in the Warriors DNA where they're able to turn the ball over. And when they turn the ball over a lot, it's more times than not, they don't really give up a lot of points off those turnovers.

But I think they did. And I think that really played into the into the king's hands. And I mean, I know I mentioned him earlier. Daveon Mitchell had a career game and this team was absolutely rallying around what he was able to do, especially against a guy like Steph Curry. Here he is in the second season, a little bit undersized and just that that bulldog picking up Steph Curry full, full court for the entire game.

And it was a lot of fun to see. And then he hits that big shot, not known for his offense to get the dunk first time in this season. A lot of time for such a little guy off, it comes off of a steal and then hits that triple right in front of the king's bench and it's unbelievable.

One eighteen to go. That really was the dagger and Daveon Mitchell. What a moment for him. What is the strategy defensively against Steph? Because he did not have a great shooting night, though.

Some of those he missed wide open. Yeah, I mean, I think it's just him picking up full court and trying to stay locked on as much as he can. I mean, he's going to get lost in the screen a little bit, but I think a lot of it is just a hope and a prayer. And you just hope he misses or hopefully, you know, force him into an off balance shot or just making a bad pass. I mean, just like I said, they want to force them into turnovers. And look, this isn't the team that's a good defensive team. So to see moments like that, they really ring the bell on that.

They have a you've probably seen it by now. They've got a chain, this this this corny little medallion and this laser and smoke show in the locker room after every win, they award a defensive player of the game award. Might as well be named after Daveon Mitchell because he could win it literally every single night.

But he won it again tonight. And it's these types of little moments that they have to celebrate so that this team can believe in, that they're not this awful, awful defensive team, that there is moments that they can really celebrate where they can buckle down and and show some defense. And it really shows on the road like when they're on the road, this team is a much better defensive team than they are at home. Home is where they really get killed defensively. That's kind of obviously their bread is buttered on the offensive on the offensive end putting up historic numbers.

But if they can make just any small little incremental improvement defensively, it goes a long way for Sacramento. Sean Cunningham with us from Sacramento, literally just finishing up with postgame press conferences in the Sacramento Kings locker room following their game to win the 2-0 lead against the Warriors. It's after hours. CBS Sports Radio light the beam has become nationally recognized. It's now a phrase that even if you're not part of the Kings fan base, you're hearing spewed on national TV. How much does light the beam grip the Sacramento fan base? It's insane. I mean, I don't know how much time you have.

I could talk for probably 20 minutes about how it captivated the city. You've got people tattooing the beam on them. So not even stop it.

Stop it. There's literally a fan who I've seen in it. Mike Brown was asked about it today tattooed Mike Brown's face on his calf.

He also has a beam tattoo on his arm. You've got every business in town turning everything purple, which isn't all that uncommon. But the fan base loves it so much. I was working. I work at Fox 40 here in Sacramento and like a typical newsroom, you get news tips. You know, people say, hey, there's a car crash here. What's going on over here?

Please exit on the street. The night that that happened back in October, they see a light in the air and you're literally getting people emailing and calling into the station going, what is this light? Like what's happening? Aliens?

What's going on? It's got to be over the arena and it just happens organically and like the whole I don't know if anyone has heard, but, you know, the idea came from somebody within the organization, John Reinhardt, the president of the team, seeing how they used to light a halo around the of the A in Anaheim when the Angels would win win. And they're saying, well, there's something similar we can do here.

But it happened kind of organically. And once people saw it, man, this place goes crazy. They flood Doko Plaza right outside of the main entrance of Golden One Center. And if you were here on Game one and they win right after the Warriors game and you've got L Street, it turned into a viewing party. You have another square that's turned into an ice skating rink.

Normally during the during the during the winter season, you've got people packing that for a viewing party. And then they're right outside of Golden One Center, looking up in the sky, celebrating, making out and making pictures, always taking pictures. I mean, there's so many things going on under the beam and these fans have lost their mind over it.

And it, you know, it wasn't even just the beam. You can go back to Malik Monk getting a little cut on his face and wearing the Band-Aid. You got all these people in the arena wearing Band-Aids on their face and even De'Aaron giving Malik a bunch of garbage saying like, hey, the cut has healed. You don't have to wear the Band-Aid anymore. And he's like, how can I take it off?

So, yeah, things like that, these little organic moments that this small town that, like I said, the little brother to the Bay Area, that they just embrace and it's kind of like a college atmosphere in here. Sean, I'm going to assume the beam is not paid for with taxpayer money. I would hope not. I mean, it's a pretty impressive beam. You must be able to see it from all over the city.

Yeah, you can. I mean, there's moments where it looks a little brighter than others, especially if you get a little bit of an overcast and how it reflects off the clouds. They had one laser or one beam originally, and now they've added like four to kind of strengthen it.

And, you know, FAA regulations, you kind of have to pull the plug right when midnight happens. But, yeah, people are celebrating. They take pictures from everywhere and Instagram accounts and people buying all kinds of t-shirts and hats. And like I said, literally people tattooing beams on their body. They're just loving it. Well, that is a little extreme. But I do love the rally cry and the fact that fans are coming together to support their team and they have this beam that really is the central focus. It's cool.

And it's pretty purple too. Before I let you go, Sean, internally, how high are the expectations for this playoff run? First one in 16 years. What are their expectations inside their own locker room? Yeah, I feel like they don't have much pressure on their shoulders coming into the series because let's face it, everyone else, I mean, the Warriors come in and succeed and they were still favored just because of their championship pedigree and defending champs and star power on that team. And you've got Hall of Famers.

So a team that really, you've got two All-Stars in Sacramento and not a lot of star power outside of that. So I feel like they came in here just playing with house money. I don't think that they thought they'd be this good this soon and this might be like another year. And maybe they thought that they'd be battling for a playoff spot or maybe in a playoff position. So coming into the series now, it's a little bit like, okay, now that you've protected home court and that old adage that a series doesn't start until a road team loses.

I just used that last hour. It's true. I mean, but it is true. We use it so often.

I hate cliches, but it's like it's a cliche because it's for a reason. You go into San Francisco and you're up 2-0, you're halfway there, but you haven't done anything yet. And Mike Brown is going to be on his team to know that, to constantly remind them about that. And to see, do they get overconfident?

Is there a comfort level? Do they kind of let go of the rope, so to speak, as they head into San Francisco? Because let's face it, for as rowdy as Sacramento has been, obviously they're used to really great atmospheres, more so when the team was in Oakland than in San Francisco, frankly, but it's still a fantastic atmosphere. And I think now you've poked the bear and the Warriors fans, they're going to be ready for the Kings.

So now it's time to put up or shut up. You got, you're going to go in there on a Thursday night game and then it's an early game. It's a 1230 Pacific time tip on Sunday. So even a little bit of a time change could, could maybe affect things, but you still have the home court.

So you haven't lost on your home floor. You know, you'll be coming back for at least a game five if necessary. And I love the way the fans are representing Sacramento, representing the Kings loud and proud. And then of course the beam, which my goodness, you might be able to see in the next state on some nights. It's so bright.

So fine shot. We got to get you out to see it. You got to get out to see it.

I would love that. But it really has become a national moniker. It's not just about the Kings anymore. When you start to hear the announcers on TNT yell light the beam, well then you know, it's become a mainstream and gone viral. So it's really cool. Uh, we've actually, we've been in here looking at, as you're talking, looking at some of the photos and it's incredible.

As you point out, it's all over social media too. You can find Sean on Twitter at Sean Cunningham, reporter producer for Fox 40, also part of the Kings radio network as a reporter with the great Gary Gerald, who is an icon, obviously you're welcome back anytime. I hope we have an occasion to talk Kings basketball for before this playoff run is done.

Sean. Thank you so much. Oh, absolutely. I mean, pleasure to talk to you anytime you want. You hit me up.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-18 06:51:21 / 2023-04-18 07:00:02 / 9

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