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The Sactown Greatest, #12: Doug Christie

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(This is the fifth piece in our series, The Sactown Greatest, which documents our picks for the best Kings in Sacramento history. Walt Williams was #13.)

In the late 1990s and early part of this decade, the Kings were known as a run and gun, no defense, type of team. In the 1999-2000 season, the Kings were the only team in the league to average more than 100 PPG, at 100.2, but they also had the worst defense in the league, giving up 100.6 PPG. Regardless, that was good enough to make the playoffs as the 8th seed, for the second-consecutive year. In the playoffs, the Kings rallied, but failed to make it past the eventual champion Lakers in the first round, just as they had the previous year, against the Jazz.

To help the team vault to the next level, Sacramento traded for defensive specialist Doug Christie, in exchange for forward Corliss Williamson in the off-season. Christie had an immediate impact on the team, making second-team all-NBA in defense, leading the league in steals, and averaging more than 12 points a game, good enough for third-best on the team, behind Webber and Peja. Unlike the previous season, the Kings outscored their opponents by a 105-102 PPG margin, in a season that saw an offensive resurgence, with 7 NBA teams breaking the 100-point barrier. In fact, Christie made second-team All-NBA three times (2001, 2002, 2004) and all-NBA once, in 2003.

As Christie's profile rose for his consistent defensive pressure, and ability to put up points, he also gained a reputation for being an atypical NBA star - one who was faithful to his wife, almost to the point of submission. In a macho league where many elements of the "thug life" are embraced, Christie stood apart from the pack, with his wife Jackie attending games at Arco, and a raised pinky and index finger (showing his love for her and not calling plays) being one of his singature moves. In fact, the pair gets married every year, on their anniversary, July 8th - not just to renew their vows, but to go through the entire processional. To make things even more interesting, BET will be running a reality series covering their relationship called "Committed: The Christies," which debuts October 5th.

But back to the courts...

During his 4 1/2 seasons as a King, Christie was the picture of consistency - playing more than 80 games each campaign, and hovering around 10 points and two steals. He also became one of the Kings' most-feared deep ball threats, throwing in 3 point shots around a 40 percent clip. In the Kings high-octane offense, it was always better to score three than two. In a colorful group that included C-Webb, White Chocolate, Divac and Peja, Christie was the quiet leader who showed up every game and just did his job, playing a key role for a team that left behind its mediocre history to challenge for the title against Shaq, Kobe and the Lakers. In fact, Christie's battles with the Lakers became the talk of sports shows everywhere, whether it was tangling with Kobe on the floor, or for his preseason skirmish with Rick Fox that had him suspended for two games to start the 2002-03 season.

Christie helped usher in a new era for the Sacramento Kings, one where the team was expected to be in the playoffs every season, and where teammates were expected to play on both sides of the floor, not giving ground. With Divac ready to flop under the basket when opponents took it to the hole, and Christie on the outside, ready to slap the ball away and drive it home for a layup, the Kings had changed their stripes.