Basketball

Kenny Thomas: Sacramento Kings Career

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Standing at 6’7″ 261lbs, Kenny Thomas played in the NBA for 11 seasons. During that tenure, Thomas played three seasons for the Houston Rockets, three for the Philadelphia 76ers, and 6 for the Sacramento Kings. Thomas attended the University of New Mexico and was selected 22nd overall in the 1999 NBA draft by the Houston Rockets.

Appearing in 632 career games, Thomas put up per-game averages of 9.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists. Thomas made his mark in MANY places across the globe, but this article will focus primarily on the Sacramento Kings portion of Thomas’ career.

Prep Hoops Standout

Some impressive stats and accolades from the Kenny Thomas Wikipedia page, “Thomas attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, one of the highest-profile recruits to ever attend the school. He is second on the Lobos’ all-time scoring list (1,931 points), career blocks list (239), and career dunks list (114), and leads the school’s lists in career rebounds (1,032), freshman scoring (484), and rebounding (256), and personal fouls for a season (118) and career (383). Thomas is one of eight Lobos to be selected as an All-American (1998). Kenny led the Lobos to four consecutive NCAA Tournament first-round wins. UNM was an amazing 71–3 in The PIT (UNM’s home court) in Kenny’s four years with the Lobos including 41 consecutive wins.”

Thomas was also a member of the U.S. Olympic team that won the gold medal at the 1997 World University Games in Trapani, Italy. During the tournament, Thomas averaged 6.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2 steals over the 6 games in the tournament.

SacTown Kenny

The Sacramento Kings acquired Thomas in one of the most ‘franchise-changing’ trades ever made. On February 23, 2005, Thomas was traded to the Sacramento Kings in a deal that sent Chris Webber to Philadelphia.

The Sixers acquired Webber, one of the NBA’s elite power forwards and a five-time All-Star, along with reserve forwards Matt Barnes and Michael Bradley. Philadelphia sent forwards Brian SkinnerKenny Thomas and Corliss Williamson to the Kings, who finally divested themselves of Webber’s mammoth contract and larger-than-life personality after years of speculation.

ESPN – 2/23/2005

Thomas spent 6 seasons playing for the Sacramento Kings, 2004-05 through 2009-10. He played 227 games, starting 128. Thomas’ career averages with the Sacramento Kings were 9.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game.

Thomas’ ‘best’ season in Sacramento was in 2004-05, right after he was acquired by the Kings via trade. During those 24 games with the Kings to end the season Thomas averaged 14.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game.

Playoff King

Thomas appeared in 11 total playoff games for the Sacramento Kings, five in 04-05 and 6 games in 05-06. The Kings finished the 04-05 season at 50-32 overall, good for 6th seed in the NBA western conference. In the first round of the playoffs, the Kings faced the 2nd seed Seattle Supersonics, featuring Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, and one of my favorite NBA Live 2003 players, Vladimir Radmanovic.

Sacramento eventually ended up losing the series 4-1. Thomas started all five games in the series, averaging 30 minutes, 12.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. Thomas scored 22 points in a game three loss and grabbed a team-high in rebounds twice in the series, 8 in game one and 14 in game four.

The Kings would finish the LOCALLY INFAMOUS 2005-06 season at 44-38 overall, good for 8th seed in the NBA western conference. In the first round of the playoffs, the Kings would face the top seed San Antonio Spurs. The Kings put up a fight but eventually lost the series in 6 games, 4-2. Thomas started all 6 games for the Kings, averaging 24.7 minutes, 5.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game. Little did Kings fans know at the time … it would be the last time the franchise would make the playoffs.

Post-Playoff Era

Thomas endured perhaps the toughest time in Sacramento Kings’ history, 2004-2010. After the 2005-06 exit from the playoffs, most Kings fans thought that there would be a 2001-02 type RESURGENCE back to greatness … but that was the opposite of the plan.

Leading up to the 2005-06 season there was MAJOR foreshadowing of the events to come in SacTown, including the franchise-changing trades of C-Webb and Peja Stojakovic. The Kings’ owners at the time, the Maloof family, were losing money on their Las Vegas-based Palms Casino, there was the nation and worldwide economic decline of 2008 … long story short … the Kings owners tried to relocate the team. That relocation effort sparked the ‘HERE WE STAY’ movement, the FANTASTICAL FAILURE of the franchise relocation, and eventual sale to current Kings owner Vivek Ranadive on May 31, 2013. Kenny Thomas was one of the few Kings to experience the biggest period of change in the history of the Kings franchise.

Say it again y’all,

“HERE WE STAY”

SacTown Residents Circa 2009

On February 18, 2010, Kenny’s time as a player in SacTown came to an end when the Kings released him after the trade deadline.

Post-Playing Career

Kenny has done a lot to help make positive change for the communities he loves. His website states his post-career goals well,

Inspire and nurture disadvantaged youth of America to reach their full potential

KennyThomas.com

Thomas has run multiple businesses and has helped with multiple charities in the communities he loves. In 2012, Thomas received the honor of being inducted into the University of New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame.

SacTown Lifer

Thomas has called SacTown home for most of his post-NBA career. He has worked with local youth basketball organizations, hosted many of his own hoop camps, and has been part of the coaching staff for the American River College men’s basketball team – focusing on player development and recruiting. GO BEAVERS! … as an alumnus of the ARC men’s cross country and track teams, when I read that Thomas became part of the Beaver athletics family I was very excited.

“With my position here at ARC, I focus on the kids that are bigs,” Thomas said. “I played small forward through center. With my past history and the knowledge that I have, being able to mentor or give advice to these kids from the standpoint of basketball overall, my basketball IQ is pretty high, so I bring a variety of dynamics when I’m helping teach these kids.”

ARC Current Article

Coach Thomas has a goal of coaching at the NCAA Division 1 level someday. He has seen a lot of examples of high-level hoops coaching, having played for 10 coaches during his 11 season NBA career.

New TV Voices in SacTown

Thomas joined the Sacramento Kings pre and post-game broadcast crew for the 2021-22 season. He joins the newly formed crew of Morgan Ragan, Kyle Draper, and former Kings player, Sacramento native and Del Campo high school legend Matt Barnes.

Personally, I have really enjoyed what Kenny has brought to the pre and post-game shows for the Kings. He has a chill, competitive, and insightful aura about him when breaking down hoops. I enjoy the different rapports he has begun creating with Matt Barnes and Morgan Ragan, as each ‘crew’ has its own flare when they work together.

Let’s Hear From YOU

Have you ever interacted with Kenny? Maybe at his restaurant, on the golf course, taking your youth hooper to one of his basketball camps, or maybe before/after a game … I want to hear your Kenny Thomas story! Let us know on my Twitter page @sactowncrown

As always, GO KINGS!

-Tom Witt

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Tom Witt has been in sports media for just under a decade. He started off freelancing, earning a role as an editor and Sacramento Kings writer at Overtime Heroics.

He also is an avid Spikeball fan/competitor (roundnet is the name of the sport played on Spikeball equipment) - Tom is also the head editor at the Roundnet World blog.