JaVale McGee

How McGee spun lack of Kings playing time into leadership role

NBC Universal, Inc.

JaVale McGee found a way to turn a career-low into a locker room blessing.

The 16-year NBA veteran averaged just 7.4 minutes with the Kings during the 2023-24 season, a career-low that the three-time NBA champion didn’t necessarily approve of. 

But instead of having the snub work against him – or the team – McGee took it as an opportunity to continue to establish himself as Sacramento’s much-needed veteran vocal leader, a decision the 7-foot center is proud of. 

“It’s very important, just like I said, this is a business, and all the team is trying to do is win,” McGee told NBC Sports California's Deuce Mason and Morgan Ragan on the "Deuce & Mo" podcast. “I was in a situation last year where I wasn’t playing as much as I wanted to play because the coach felt like he wanted to go a different way.

“I took it personal, but I didn’t let that personal feeling come out into the court.”

Now 36 and heading into his 17th NBA season, he knows that his value within any team goes far beyond his impact on the floor.

If anything, it’s how he shows up to work and how he interacts with his teammates and staff that allows him to make a difference, like he did with the Golden State Warriors during their back-to-back NBA championship seasons. 

“I’m a leader,” McGee said. “I’m a veteran on this team, and what I bring to this team is tenfold to what I can bring on the court. 

“I bring leadership. I bring a vocal tenacity. I bring a demeanor in the locker room where it’s a no one can mess with us.” 

Unlike what he can offer on the floor, McGee recognizes that there’s a plethora of players in the league that can deliver over 20 points a night.

Yet, the center argues that the stat sheets aren’t the only tools that can measure player impact within a team.

“There’s a lot of guys that go into the league and give you 20 [points], but they have no heart,” McGee added. 

“You get what I’m saying? If someone pushes them out of bounds, they just let it happen. They don’t say anything back to that person. 

“You can’t survive with a lot of guys like that.” 

Coming off  a career low that was well beyond his control, McGee demonstrated to a Kings locker room, the league and beyond the invaluableness of a veteran leader.

It may not wow the crowd, but it’s also how games are won. 

Contact Us