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Kings cancel t-shirt giveaway after DeMarcus Cousins takes issue

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The Sacramento Kings abruptly canceled a planned t-shirt giveaway on Monday night at Sleep Train Arena after DeMarcus Cousins and others took issue with the theme.

The Kings originally intended to give out shirts by placing them on every seat in the arena to commemorate Lunar New Year. The shirts bore a picture of a purple monkey to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Monkey, which begins on Feb. 8.

But Cousins, among others, found the shirts to be racially insensitive in light of Feb. 1 also being the first day of Black History Month, for which NBA players and coaches already were wearing commemorative shirts Monday.

About 90 minutes before the opening tip, arena staff removed the shirts from the seats.

“We all need a lesson in sensitivity,” Kings president Chris Granger said, via the Sacramento Bee. “In an effort to celebrate Chinese New Year, we had some concerns about the T-shirt giveaway, so we pulled them all before the doors opened. Certainly we don’t want to offend anybody, and we acted as soon as we heard the concern.”

Marques Johnson, current TV analyst for the Milwaukee Bucks, the Kings’ Monday opponent, was critical of the original plan and relayed a conversation he had with Cousins before the decision was made to cancel the planned giveaway.

“I walk into the building and DeMarcus Cousins calls me over to an animated discussion he’s having with Kings operations people,” Johnson wrote on Facebook, via ESPN. “He ask me, ‘Olskool, what you think about this T Shirt? Told him a little insensitive on 1st day of Black History Month’. They pulled the shirts…”

Johnson later praised the decision to nix the t-shirt giveaway on Twitter.

It appears a potential public relations issue was averted courtesy of some quick thinking by the Kings … as a result of some apparent prodding by Cousins.