It's Wednesday, so it's theme day at SB Nation NBA. The theme this week: best trade ever. (This is going to be a rough day at Rufus On Fire and Raptors HQ, I feel.) For the Sacramento Kings, this is dead simple. Mitch Richmond was a glorious part of the franchise for seven years. We watched dominate an All-Star Game, we stridently compared him to the greats. He was one of few players we could have some pride in.
And trading him was the best thing our franchise did in the '90s.
The trade -- officially it was Rock and Otis Thorpe for Chris Webber -- helped set the course for an era of beauty and very nearly an NBA championship for the Kings. Webber was but one piece of the reformation of the club, but he was the biggest, most difficult to acquire piece. Vlade Divac came over as a free agent. Peja Stojakovic was drafted out of relative anonymity. Jason Williams was considered a reach, or at least a risk. Webber was the big swing, a major attempt at a major franchise shift. It worked.
Richmond had a bad lockout season, and never recovered. Webber ended up averaging 23 points, 10 rebounds and five assists with the Kings over six-plus seasons, and taking the team to within a bucket of the NBA Finals. No matter what disappointment the Webber era eventually ended in, the heights he helped bring the team to make his acquisition the most important in Kings history to date.
Until Jimmer and Salmons lead us to a 72-10 record this season, of course.