Tyus Edney became famous for 4.8 seconds.
To most, he's known for that 1995 NCAA tournament, where he dashed down the court and led UCLA to a last-second victory over Missouri. But to Kings fans, he's known for the season that followed.
After the Kings selected Tyus Edney with the 47th pick in NBA Draft, Edney emerged as the starting point guard for the 1995-96 Kings. That team was filled with our cult heroes. But Edney has always stood out to me from that squad. He was the underdoggiest player on an underdog team. It would be like if Isaiah's rookie season had also coincided with ending a 9-year playoff drought. Imagine how highly we'd regard IT.
But that alone isn't why Edney's a cult hero. Edney is a cult hero because just as quickly as he captured our hearts and imaginations, he disappeared.
In his rookie season, Edney put up 10.8 points, 6.1 assists and 1 steal per game, while shooting 41% from the field and 36.8% from three. It seemed as though Sacramento had found its undersized point guard of the future, to replace the recently departed Spud Webb.
What I find most interesting about Edney's disappearance into obscurity is that he didn't really change at all in his sophomore season. On a per minute basis, Edney's '96-97 season is almost identical to '95-96. The difference was his minutes.
After the offseason following the playoff berth in '96, the Kings traded Edney's fellow cult hero Sarunas Marciulionis to the Nuggets for Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Abdul-Rauf was three months removed from his infamous National Anthem controvery, but was still a more than adequate NBA player. He took the starting role, and Edney's growth stalled.
The following offseason Edney left the Kings as a free agent, joining the Celtics for one season. Edney then ventured overseas, where he found success internationally. Edney won a Euroleague Final Four MVP in 1999 as his team won the Euroleague tournament. The following season, Edney led his Italian League team to a 2nd place finish, and a win in the Italian Cup. Edney attempted an NBA comeback in 2000, lasting one season with the Indiana Pacers before returning to Europe. Edney enjoyed immense popularity overseas, and has found success in post playing career as well, currently serving as Director of Men's Basketball Ops for UCLA.
Edney's time with the Kings is marked by one good season, and a disappointing sophomore slump. But that's why he's a cult hero. Mitch Richmond is a hero because of sustained excellence in the face of an abysmal franchise. Edney is a cult hero because his name takes you back to one very specific season of magic.
Also, one time he almost ran me over in the Arco Arena parking lot. Mostly my fault, probably.