Malik Monk’s decision last summer to ditch the Los Angeles Lakers in favor of the Sacramento Kings was met with a lot of skepticism.
The latter squad was a perennial bottom-dweller in the Western Conference while the former, although it had its issues, was NBA royalty.
With a regular season and one full playoff game in the books, it’s safe to say Monk made the right call.
On Saturday night, after a regular season that saw them finish third in the Western Conference, Monk and the Kings earned a 126-123 victory over the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Monk scored 32 points in the outing, while De’Aaron Fox led the way with 38 points.
As a result of their stellar showings Fox and Monk became only the second set of college teammates to ever score 30 points each in the same playoff outing. The only other duo to do it was Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.
In a session with reporters, a clearly elated Monk revealed that what transpired Saturday night, with Fox by his side, was his main motivation for coming to Sacramento.
Malik Monk: “That was my reason for coming [to the Kings], to change the culture with my homie.”
De’Aaron Fox: “It’s just a connection that we have… We all wanna win, we wanna see each other succeed.”
Malik & De’Aaron on their bond as teammates.pic.twitter.com/ki18pd5eFl
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) April 16, 2023
“That was my reason for [leaving the Lakers and] coming here, to change the culture with my homie, man,” he said.
“We knew we had a great chance as soon as I came here. We just had to be together. We stayed together all year. We laugh, have fun. … The environment was so great. The fans were great. I can’t wait to play again Monday.”
Fox echoed that sentiment.
“We laugh together,” he said.
“We have fun together. But we also go out there and we get on each other. It’s just a connection that we have. We know that it’s never personal. …
“When you have guys on your team that will get on you but you know it’s out of love cause they what you can do, there’s not much more that you really want as a player.”
Sacramento obviously still has a lot of work to do.
Yet another reason to light the beam. https://t.co/tqPwdkhBDK
— Game 7 (@game7__) April 16, 2023
The Warriors are the defending champions for a reason. For all their internal strife and drama this year, they are one of the greatest NBA teams of all time. They won’t go down easily.
But the Kings definitely did what they needed to do in Game 1.
Can Monk, Fox and the rest of the team replicate the magic in Game 2? Time will tell.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.