By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
Former Sacramento Kings player and current assistant coach Doug Christie unexpectedly got the call to coach the team against the Washington Wizards at Golden 1 Center on Dec. 15.
Interim head coach Alvin Gentry tested positive for COVID-19 hours before, which put Christie in the chair for the game and possibly two contests. Christie said he was up for the challenge but wanted to make sure the temporary job was all about the Kings.
“It’s not about me, not about anybody, it’s more about us and the opportunity that has been presented for our team to face and to fight through it,” Christie said before tip off. “Once I got the phone call that I would be leading the troops tonight it was more of an all-hands-on-deck thing. Right now, I am the interim coach but this is all about us as a unit.”
Forward Marvin Bagley III also tested positive for COVID-19 and Terrence Davis was out of commission for health and safety protocols, likely because he had the virus before the season started.
The Kings hired Christie as an assistant coach in August to add some defensive knowledge to the bench. He was previously serving as a color commentator for the team alongside play-by-play caller Mark Jones and Kyle Draper.
Christie played 14 seasons in the NBA and played for seven teams, including the Sacramento Kings from 2000 to 2005 and was named to the NBA All-Defensive first team in 2003 and named NBA All-Defensive second team in 2001, 2002, and 2004.
The Seattle native helped Sacramento reach the postseason in each of his five seasons with the Kings. Christie is the Sacramento-era leader in career steals (717) and is also second on the all-time leaders list in career steals for the Toronto Raptors (664).
“Since I got back to Sacramento, anything and everything I’ve been asked to do, I do it with my heart and soul,” Christie told The OBSERVER. “This [coaching fill-in] is no different. I’ve been around basketball my whole life but sitting in that seat three seats over is going to be different. But more than anything it’s going to be about the players coming to play at a high level.”