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Remembering the Good Ol' Days

Before we get to looking forward to this season, let's take a trip down memory lane with a famous story on our beloved 2000-01 Kings, from the SI Vault.

"We play the game the way it was meant to be played, running the floor, looking for easy baskets, trying to attack and keep a defense on its heels," says Webber, whose team was averaging a league-high 108.0 points through Sunday. "Traditional basketball isn't the slowdown game you see some teams play, where you walk the ball up and call a play every time. It's running the break, the way the Celtics did with Cousy and Russell. It's not so much that we're doing anything new; we're just doing things the rest of the league has gotten away from." ...

That the Kings are hard to pigeonhole only makes them more intriguing. They're a throwback to the past, a reflection of the present and, we can only hope, a harbinger of the future. There is a retro feel to the small-town, high-school-gym-on-a-Friday-night fervor they engender at ARCO. Their willingness to play to the crowd is decidedly contemporary, but they have an almost quaint fraternal affection for one another that also harkens to a more innocent era. The only thing Sacramento players seem to fight over is who's going to pick up the check at dinner. "Vlade always tries to grab it," says Webber. "I know he's the veteran, but he's got to let someone else pick it up once in a while."

Remember: at the time, the Kings were a novelty, a spectacle that couldn't win in the defense-first postseason. That slander didn't last. It'll be interesting to see the way the next great Kings team develops, if it follows a similar path: superstar offense, followed by the addition of defense, followed by (almost) ultimate success. The offense was #13 last season, and figures to finish anywhere from #9 (if Beno, Martin and Salmons build a connection) to #18 or so (if Miller regresses, Salmons was a fluke, and Beno plays on an island).

With the right moves, and good development of camaraderie in the backcourt and skills in the frontcourt, Sacramento could be on the path to excellent offense once again. (Landing Amare in two summers also wouldn't hurt.) Fingers crossed.