Greene, Kings' fans celebrate the draft together in Folsom

By: Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
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Folsom’s Thursday Night Market welcomed a special guest and all the fans that followed for an NBA Draft viewing party at Hacienda Del Rio restaurant on historic Sutter Street. Sacramento Kings small forward Donte Greene entered the second story restaurant to a crowd of purple and black as David Stern, NBA commissioner, took the stage in New Jersey and announced the first overall pick. The Kings star spent an hour from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. signing autographs, posing for pictures and entertaining a fan base eager to celebrate their team still being in town. The event was one of seven viewing parties across the Sacramento area organized by Kings’ officials and local businesses. Kings’ players Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson, Hassan Whiteside and Greene joined fans from Roseville, Folsom and Sacramento. With the 10th overall pick in the first round the Bucks selected Jimmer Fredette, the Brigham Young University guard and 2011 NCAA leading scorer, whose trade to the Kings was later approved. Greene was front and center with fans, watching the drama as his team swapped teammate Beno Udrih in a three-team trade that landed the Kings a familiar face, John Salmons. Greene said he wasn’t in town when Fredette visited Sacramento for a workout, but was excited at the possibility of playing with the talented guard. “Fredette can find other players on the court and he can definitely shoot. He’ll be a lot of fun to play with,” said Greene. “This year’s draft has a lot of guys. It’s looking good, but if I had it my way I’d trade the pick and keep the guys we’ve got.” Two long-time Kings fans who agree at least in part with Greene were Granite Bay residents Jerry and Barbara Lewelling. They have been season ticket holders since 1992. On their way to dinner at The Kabob House, a Greek restaurant in Folsom, the Lewellings stopped by the viewing party after receiving an email from the Kings organization. Barbara was upset at the thought of losing Beno and Jerry was just hoping for a point guard. “For the most part it’s becoming a point guard league and we really need someone who can help the team function properly,” said Jerry. “If you don’t have a good point guard, you’re not going to compete very well.” “There’s talk about [Tony] Parker,” said Barbara. She was interested in rumors of the San Antonio All-Star point guard possibly being involved in a future trade to Sacramento. “Beno leaving upsets me,” added Barbara. “I could say other things, but I’ll just say I’m upset about it.” Greene wasn’t able to comment on the recent trade. He did say, however; that if an NBA lockout occurs between team owners and the players’ association, he’ll head back home to North Carolina, where he’s spent this offseason working out and with family. Hacienda owners Ed Auel and David Miller, who have owned the restaurant for more than five years, jumped at the chance to host a Kings player. Miller has been a season ticket holder for the last two seasons. He said he was proud to be a part of the event and to have the Kings staying in town for at least one more year. “I’ve heard some rumors today of what the Kings might be up to in the draft, but I’ve been too busy at the restaurant to pay attention to any of it,” said Miller. Greene hung with fans as the Udrih trade was announced followed later by the Fredette selection. He even made time to joke with one person who showed up wearing a Lebron James, Cleveland Cavaliers jersey. “I’m big on going out into to the community and to events like this where I can spend time with our loyal fans and just have a good time,” said Greene. A good time included two free Kings’ tickets to a preseason game for the first 20 fans who arrived. Raffle prizes included Kings’ merchandise and the grand prize, box seats at a Kings game for up to 16 people. Sacramento radio station KSFM 102.5 and some of the Kings Royal Court Dancers also participated in the draft party. Noel Riggs, an off-duty employee at Hacienda, sang an impromptu National Anthem and wrapped the event to cheers from the crowd.