Napear plays both ways with Kings

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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As the zipper went down, the truth came out. Grant Napear was wearing a New York Yankees jacket last Thursday, but he unzipped it to reveal a Sacramento Kings shirt. The Yankees are his favorite baseball team, but he is a Kings fan. Any person who has been following the Kings for 23 years deserves to be called a fan and then some. Napear also happens to work for the Kings, handling play-by-play on their game telecasts. Broadcasters employed by teams often draw criticism for looking the other way when the team takes a turn for the worse. They know better than to sink their teeth into the hand that feeds them. They realize fans are watching a telecast in hopes of seeing their beloved team come out on top. If the play-by-play man is knocking the team at every opportunity, fans will grab the remote control. Biting his tongue has been a challenge for Napear in recent seasons. The Kings are going nowhere, unless the team moves. The roster lacks talent, and Arco Arena is one of the NBA’s worst venues. On March 1, the arena will become Power Balance Pavilion. The Kings could use a few of those bracelets Napear is fortunate in that he has another forum through which to vent his frustration. He hosts the 4-7 p.m. show on KHTK 1140-AM and has more leeway on the radio to pick apart the Kings. Two months ago, Napear jumped on DeMarcus Cousins after the rookie was kicked out of practice. Napear even called for the Kings to remove the first-round draft pick’s banners at Arco Arena. The banners did come down, but Napear is not taking credit for their removal. He is like any other Kings fan in wondering whether Cousins will mature enough to make the most of his talent. Napear can turn into a fan when he is doing his radio show, which he did last Thursday at Thunder Valley Casino. He can empathize with frustrated fans. He knows how to play to his audience. “I love the Kings. They’re my favorite team in the world. I want to see them succeed,” he said. “You can be a bit of a homer. There’s no announcer in the country that doesn’t their team to win.” His radio show gives Napear ample time to defend the Kings when necessary and also dissect them. He loves when three hours fly by and the only topic of conversation has been the Kings. “People want to talk about the Kings,” Napear said. “They care about this team. They’re passionate.” Napear is just as passionate about his work. He has been at KHTK since 1995, so he has a good idea what keeps listeners coming back for more. He is a sports talk host who actually talks sports. There is little chance of Napear sharing his thoughts on “American Idol,” the latest movies or the Kardashians. “Chloe Kardashian has nothing to do with sports,” he joked. “I don’t talk about sex. When the Tiger Woods stuff broke, I talked about the impact on golf. I wasn’t trying to judge him.” Napear expects to be judged when he calls a Kings game or does his radio show. Even his appearance last week at Thunder Valley Casino was not an escape from fans and their questions. With a few minutes to spare before his show, Napear took a seat at a blackjack table to try his luck. He was approached by three people within the first 60 seconds who wanted to pick his brain. Napear always has time for people who derive as much from sports as he does. And he is hardcore. A devout New York Giants fan, Napear drove 80 miles from Decatur, Ill., to Peoria in 1986 and stood in a department store for four hours so he could watch the Giants play the Denver Broncos. The game, which the Giants won 19-16, was not televised in Decatur. The two teams met again two months later in Super Bowl XXI. Even the folks in Decatur got to watch that one.