Jersey Sure, or How I Spent the Lockout of 2011, Episode No. 4

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Not specifically related to this story, but I came across this while doing research. How cool would it have been to go to a basketball game and see (from left) Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor all on the floor at the same time?   

Aykis16:  Our series (brought to you by David Stern and Billy Hunter!) continues this week with Part Four.  Last Friday we had left off at 9 (Woof!) so that brings us to...

Bibbilicious

10

Crowned Potential: Mike Bibby will be remembered for playing the best basketball of any player on the court in the one of the most significant playoff series ever and scoring the biggest basket of the Sacramento franchise history.

Exhibit G: In the Sacramento era, the debate essentially centers around Mike Bibby and Samuel Dalembert. As much as we grew to love Sammy, and as much as we grew to love mocking Bibby, it really is not contest. Bibby's arrival was so important to this franchise, and he was part of some absolutely amazing moments. 

MustangMBS: Going through this number, 10, seemed like there were more players with that number than times Mike Bibby was caught on camera cleaning his fingernails...  I mean really? Were they really that dirty all the time? 

 Tiny Archibald may have been one of my favorites back in the day, had I been beyond kindergarten, but I just don't know many of the players. This franchise does have a rich history and this number tells that tale. Number 10 was first given to a guy named Jack Coleman in 1950 and most recently to Samuel Dalembert. Lots of guys in the middle, but who was Ryan Robertson or Mike Bratz? That guy had to grow up with a name like Bratz?

To tell the truth and I don't think I have said this before on here. I just don't like the person most probably will pick as their favorite. Bibby just seemed pretentious to me and came off as not a nice guy. I could never like him. My pick isn't Sammy either, though he is second, but instead Sergio. I know that's crazy, but I loved watching him make passes and hated watching the turnovers when he didn't. If he had just settled down and didn't force it too much...   Or maybe if the other players had actually been one step faster on the uptake... oh well. I just love the up-tempo game and wish the Kings were not going in the opposite direction.  Probably contributes to me picking a guy who didn't make it.

section214: Fun fact - Eight players have worn the #10 during the Sacramento era for one year or less each: Mike Bratz, Michael Adams, Franklin Edwards, Randy Wittman, Anthony Johnson, Ryan Robertson, Sergio Rodriguez and Samuel Dalembert. And the eight of them combined do not combine to equal the contributions of Mike Bibby. If Jason Williams was partially responsible for bringing glitz to the fun-time Kings, Bibby brought with him the persona of a franchise coming of age and readying itself to compete at the highest levels. Williams' style gave way to the substance of Bibby, and with it developed a club that came within a fingernail clipping of a couple of world championships, undoubtedly the best team that Sacramento has ever had.

It's a funny thing - when the Kings traded Williams for Bibby, the thought was that we were getting a slightly better overall shooter, a wiser player, and an apt distributor of the basketball. Bibby was coming off of a 15.9ppg/8.4apg season with Vancouver, his second straight 8+apg season. His 14 shots per game the prior season marked a career high for him, and at 38% he had become a 3-point shooter that you had to at least respect. But upon acquisition, he was not seen (by the fans, anyway) as a cold-blooded-game-on-the-line-shooter. Nah, he was the guy that would set up Chris and Vlade and Peja with the game on the line, take care of the ball, not get too crazy.

Bibby would only average over 5.4apg once for the Kings (6.8 in 2004-05, a year in which his shots per game also increased to almost 16 per game). But his teams would finish top five in the league in assists (1st in 2002-03 and 2003-04). Nobody noticed back then, but the job description for NBA "point guard" was changing. Bibby had become more important to the Kings as a shooter than as a passer.

Bibby's departure was less than stellar. As he aged and became seemingly disinterested in playing for a 2nd tier team, he was ultimately jettisoned for the equivalent of a ham sandwich. For those Kings fans that came to know the Kings after 2004 or so, Bibby was seen (appropriately) as more of a problem that was holding the team back from re-investing in better personnel. But during the early portion of the 21st century, Mike Bibby was the best player in the NBA not to be named to an all star team, and the clutchiest of clutch shooters. He (along with Chris Webber's hip), made ARCO Arena louder than it had ever been, no small feat indeed.

Hat tip, Mike Bibby. I may not miss you, but I'm sure as hell glad that you were here.

Aykis16:  Everyone wants to talk about Bibby, and I will too.  But first, what about the amazing Ryan Robertson? For those who don't know who I'm talking about, Robertson was our 2nd round pick in 1999 and only "played" one season for us or anyone else in the NBA for that matter.  I say "played" because he only saw 25 minutes of action in the last game of the 1999-00 season.  I remember it vividly, because the Kings were resting up for the playoffs so they played Robertson for the first time ever.  He scored 5 points and that's the last I'd ever heard of him.  Here's to you, Ryan Robertson!

A couple more stops before we get to Bibby.  Sergio Rodriguez and Samuel Dalembert both wore #10 for us in recent years (and as for Dalembert, I hope he continues to wear #10 for us for a few more years).  I liked Sergio when he was on the team and I don't think he ever got the best chance in the league.  He was a terrific passer and a better shooter than I expected.  I wish him the best back home in Spain, and hope that one day when he's older and more experienced he rejoins the NBA.

Dalembert on the other hand had a rollercoaster ride of a season for me.  When we acquired him, I was ecstatic.  Here was a guy who would toughen us up defensively and on the glass.  This was the interior presence we were looking for.  Then he started playing and I became appalled with how much he wanted to do offensively.  Finally though, I learned to appreciate him for what he is, and that is as a good defender, great shot blocker and rebounder and a mediocre offensive player with bricks for hands.  Still, that's better than most NBA centers, and I would not be disappointed if we retained him.

Bibby is the best player to wear the #10 though, and its not close.  Frankly he's the best Point Guard the Kings have ever had, and was absolutely crucial in the Kings almost winning a championship.  When we drafted Jason Williams, our team had just become exciting and good, but not quite good enough.  The Williams for Bibby trade was when this franchise became relevant.  Bibby was one of the most clutch guys to ever play for the team, hitting perhaps the biggest shot in Franchise History in Game 5 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals.  He worked well with the rest of the team because he could pass, didn't turn over the ball much (unlike Williams), and he could shoot.  He was never a great or even really good defender, but having a backcourt partner like Doug Christie helps to mask that a bit.  Unfortunately things went downhill for Bibby when Webber went down.  Bibby and Brad Miller tried to make this their team despite Peja Stojakovic clearly being the best and in the end it resulted in the complete break up of the team.  Many feel that the Kings waited too long to trade Bibby, or that they didn't get much in return.  Whatever the case may be, I'll always remember (most of) the time Bibby spent here fondly (at least in regards to his on the court persona).

_

The number 11 was retired in honor of Bob Davies.

The number 12 was retired in honor of Maurice Stokes.

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Never...gets...old.

13

Mustang: Doug Christie all the way. I mean he had some tough competition with the likes of Tyreke Evans, but a few more years, a jump shot, and a better winning team are needed before I go down that road. 

Aykis: 13 has been a pretty lucky number for Sacramento, particularly at the guard position with Tyreke Evans and Doug Christie.  Let's start off with Mr. Jackie Christie.

If you wanted to make an argument as to who the best defender in Sacramento Kings history was, you'd be hard pressed to find a better one than Doug.  He was also one of the scrappiest players to ever play for the Kings, always diving for loose balls or trying to make a hustle play.  This was a guy who left it all on the court.  Perhaps best of all, DC wasn't a one-dimensional player.  While defense was his calling card, he was also a good ball-handler and passer, and an effective spot-up three point shooter as well.  There is no doubt in my mind that without Christie, the Kings wouldn't have been contenders.  A month or so ago it was reported that Donté Greene would be working with Christie to improve his defense.  I wholeheartedly approve.

As for Tyreke... he might end up being the last person to wear the #13 for this franchise.  I know a lot of people grew a bit disenchanted with Tyreke last year, but I'm willing to chalk a lot of the difficulties 'Reke went through due to personal issues and foot injuries.  I still remember the excitement of his Rookie Year and the chase for 20-5-5.  A lot of the excitement came from our initial great start of course, but a lot of it was also due to this 20 year old kid just taking over games, a one man wrecking ball down the lane.  I find the fact that he led the league in points and attempts at the rim as a rookie guard more interesting than the 20-5-5 myself.  I'm expecting great things of Reke this year, especially if he remains healthy.

section: Man, is this a good number, starting with Sarunas Marciulionis. Sarunas only logged 53 games here in 1995-96, but that was the season that the Kings made the playoffs for the first time in 10 years, and the toughness and grit and gristle and fearlessness that was Sarunas Marciulionis infected the entire team. I loved watching him play as much as opponents hated seeing him. Pound for pound, one of the toughest sonofabitches to ever put on a Kings uni.

Michael "Yogi" Stewart. If memory serves, the local (John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento, UC Berkeley) kid was invited in to give Peja Stojakovic someone to shoot over when he came in for a visit. Stewart worked that invite into a callback, and that callback resulted in him playing a full season for the Kings before Toronto signed him to a then-ridiculous six year, $24m contract. Stewart logged about 22 minutes a night, but blocked a robust 2.4 shots per game, including nine in one game against the Clippers. He played hard, got everything out of the talent that he had, and the fans loved him for it.

Doug Christie was the perfect fit for the Kings during the golden years. On a team with shooters, he was not concerned about getting his touches. He could shoot when called upon, and was a capable passer (did anyone hit Peja cutting to the basket more than DC?). He was a ferocious defender, and perhaps the team's best baseline to baseline competitor. The great Kings teams would not have been as great without him.

I'm giving the edge at #13 to Tyreke Evans. I'm sorely tempted to give it to Christie, but I think that Evans' amazing rookie season gives him the edge over Christie's accomplishments. Maybe I'm punishing DC for being surrounded by so much talent, while Evans played with very little true talent around him. I guess we'll know more once the Kings lace ‘em up this year(?). If Evans is better than his rookie year, I made the right choice. If he languishes as he did last year, I'm wrong. I'm betting that good health and better talent around him takes Evans and his game to the next level.

_

The number 14 was retired in honor of Oscar Robertson. Brooke Steppe did wear this number for 34 games in 1983, which is absolutely frightening.

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"Give me a 'C,' a bouncy 'C.' Hit it, boys!

Once in awhile she won't call, but it's all in the game...all in a wonderful game..."

15

section: Here is what I wrote four years ago in regards to the #15 and Vinnie Del Negro: "This serves as a great reminder as to how bad we were years ago, when a guy that averaged 8ppg, 2rpg and 3apg. snags the honors at #15. Feel free to make a case for Darrick Martin, Kevin Ollie, Erik Daniels or Sergei Monia. Go ahead. I dare you." Since then, we've also seen John Salmons, Cedric Simmons and Joey Dorsey (Release the Kraken!) "grace" this number with their talents. So let's all bow our heads in reverence and raise a red flag to DeMarcus Cousins, our savior at #15.

I've told the story here before, but since it's about me getting lucky I will tell it again. I owe VDN for two great nights in my life. The first one happened when I was at an Old Sac nightclub named "Popeye's (not the chicken place, though there was certainly an abundance of legs, breasts and thighs...gee, I hope that this isn't too racy for Grant). I had been there only a short while when I was confronted/presented by/with a lovely but extremely inebriated young lady that was absolutely convinced that I was Del Negro. At first I thought it was a gag, so I quickly copped to the fact that I was not Vinnie. The fact that I was 7 inches shorter (in bare feet!) and 40 pounds lighter than Del Negro (those were the days) was completely lost on this young lady, however, and she was not going to take no for an answer...not that I was going to say "no" a second time. Good times. And yes, Vinnie did make her a couple of frozen waffles in the morning.

The second great night was the 35 point comeback that the Kings pulled off over the Bulls in Chicago two years ago. And that was down 35 with about 8 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. I have friends in Chicago that were at that game, and they had determined at halftime that they would stick around so that they could watch their scrubs get some burn. They describe the scene at the United Center as surreal, with more stunned silence and resignation than overall booing as the game unfolded. I kept watching it like it wasn't really happening. We may never see anything like this again in our lifetimes, and while it may not have been completely Vinnie's fault, I thank him just the same. And this time I made myself waffles.

Sergei Monia was one of our first acquisitions under the StR canopy. He helped bring in the world of getting way too excited about fringe player acquisitions ("Hey, that Hilton Armstrong might really fill a hole for us"..."All Rashad McCants needs is a fresh start"..."We should have been playing Ike Diogu all year"). I hereby decree that all future hyperbole over fringe players shall be known "Monia'd."

Aykis: Oh great, I get to talk about John Salmons again.  I guess he's not all that bad, but I wasn't exactly crying when we traded him the first time.  He was a fine player, but he did tend to dominate the ball and take bad shots on a very bad team.  Perhaps my memory on Salmons is clouded solely because of how bad our team was in 08-09.  He has grown a reputation as a solid defender and quality veteran.  Hopefully that continues on during this new stint in Sacramento.

Next to Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins is our most important player going forward.  Big men with his skills and size do not come often, so when he slipped to #5 last year, most of us were elated.  His rookie season had its highs and its lows, and we all got a little glimpse as to why exactly he fell to #5.  Fortunately, we also got glimpses of why he probably should have gone #2.  For one, none of us knew just how good of a passer he was.  His defense was also better than expected as well, although foul trouble was a big issue.  Big men take a while to develop to their full potential, and if Cousins is able to do it, he'll be one of the best big men in the league.

Oh and Zach Harper over at Cowbell Kingdom wouldn't forgive me if I didn't mention that the Kevin Ollie's mustache once wore #15 for the Kings.  Hope you're happy Zach.

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section: It's not too late to chime in if you want your comments included in these posts. Simply email Aykis and me and we'll do our best to include them.

Aykis: Unless you want to talk about W*ll S*****n (uh-oh getting ahead of myself).  Seriously though, here's the list of numbers again.  If you spot anyone you want to talk about in upcoming episodes, just shoot us an e-mail.

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