Marv Albert is a snazzy dresser, plus he likes numbers
(The following is a collaborative effort by Sactown Royalty editors, authors, and members. The thoughts of each contributor will be preceded by their StR member name.)
section214: Numbers. Great googily moogily, do we love numbers. Stat numbers, payroll numbers, attendance numbers - we just can't get enough of them. And no numbers are more important to us than jersey numbers. Everybody has their favorite jersey number, and everybody has their favorite players at particular numbers.
The first big jersey number in my life was #24. Willie Mays. Say-hey! I was so in awe of Mays and his ability that I never wore his number, as I thought that I was not worthy (and every one of my managers would agree with my assessment). My first iconic basketball number was #33. Lew Alcindor, Center, UCLA Bruins. And Lew would take me and my rooting interest with him to the NBA, the #33 intact.
Aykis16: Some of you know this already, but the 16 in my username comes in honor of Peja Stojakovic, my favorite Kings player of all time. In Rec-League as a kid, we had assigned jersey numbers and I was hoping to get 16, but instead got stuck with #12. The only #12 I knew of was John Stockton, and at the time I hated Stockton because he had broken the Kings hearts in the playoffs with his dagger three-pointer in game five.
section214: About four years ago, I did a five-part piece on the Kings all time roster by each number. (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V) I focused on the best at each position, and I had certain criteria that I used (games played, memories generated, bribes received). Out of the 516 features/Fanposts/Fanshots that I have posted over the years, the series definitely ranks in the top 516. This time around, we thought that it would be fun (or at least time consuming, which is not to be underestimated during a lockout offseason) to include the best and worst at each number, as well as any defining moments or memories. Also, commentary will be provided by various Sactown Royalty members. In fact, feel free to email Aykis16 and I if there are particular players/numbers that you would like to reflect upon. Again, it can be best, worst, memories, etc. The only criteria is that we are reviewing solely those players that have donned Sacramento Kings jerseys, and solely the time that they have spent affiliated with the Kings (this would include, for example, a chance encounter with Doug Christie years after his retirement). Be sure to retain your comments if you send them to us, as we may or may not be able to use them, in which case you will want to post them in the thread.
Aykis16: Here's a handy reference link to all the players who have ever played for the Kings and their jersey numbers. We're sticking with the Sacramento-era here, so anyone from the 1985-86 season and after is fair game.
The Original Agent Zero
Exhibit G: Best/Worst - Olden Polynice. I struggle with OP. He was my initial frame of reference for NBA centers, and I think that explains a lot of why I refuse to acknowledge the idea that Cousins might have any faults. Considering how long he was with the team, I find it difficult to recall much about him. I bet somewhere in the Bee archives there exists a record of R.E. Graswich writing the definitive OP profile.
betweentheeyes: Olden Polynice. In some respect, this number should be retired. I don't want to see another King wear this emptiness. For many, me included, O.P. and his okey doke is polarizing. I can't think of a King who is thought of with more disdain.
section214: OP. Never has a player worn a more appropriate number.
Aykis16: I don't remember much about Olden. But looking at the stats, he's arguably the 4th best Center to have ever played multiple seasons for the Kings, behind Brad Miller, Vlade and LaSalle Thompson. That probably says more about the dearth of good centers the Kings have had in their 26 year history than it does about O.P. though.
bte: Best - Tony Delk. I remember Delk as an athletic instant energy player who was beloved while a King and was replaced by BJax. I remember him most for his return to the Kings and him dropping 53 on Webber, Divac and crew. Worst - Greg Ostertag - from the doghouse of Jerry Sloan in came Ostertag. On the plus side, I remember he selflessly donated a kidney to his sister.
G: I've never been clear if 00 should be before 0 or after 99. It's an enigma, like why anybody ever green lit Home Alone 3. Best - Tony Delk. 46 games, 1 start, 6.4 points per game. Not very impressive, but there's no way in hell I'll let Greg Ostertag be the best King to wear 00. Worst - Greg Ostertag. No explanation needed.
Aykis: I remember Tony Delk fondly, and it surprised me to learn that he had only played 46 games with the team. It seemed like so much more. Still, he was B-Jax before B-Jax, the high energy guard off the bench who could provide a nice scoring punch. Then there was his 53 point performance against us the following year, which set (and still is) the record for most points scored against the Kings. Most amazing about that performance to me? He didn't hit one three that entire game, and only even attempted one.
As for Ostertag, I still remember exclaiming loudly "We signed Greg Freaking Ostertag????" when I read the Bee that summer. I can understand the logic behind the move (Ostertag was a legit defensive center after all), but Ostertag to me was always the guy that made a fool of himself whenever the Kings played the Jazz.
section: Magic moment: Fandemonium, 2004. Greg Ostertag runs out on stage wearing a pair of cheerleader shorts that must have taken an impact wrench to get into, and an act of God to get out of.
Do you know me?
G: The only King to wear the number 1 was Travis Mays. Guys, whose idea was it to start at zero and work up? This is awful. I know nothing about Travis Mays. I assume he looks like Wesley Snipes in Major League. Or possibly like Omar Epps trying to look like Wesley Snipes in Major League 2. Either way, it's really disappointing that he didn't legally change his name to Travis Willie Mays Hays.
section: The only Sacramento King to wear the number before it was retired in honor of Nate (Tiny) Archibald. Part of the magical draft of 1990 that brought us Lionel Simmons (7th), Mays (14th), Duane Causwell (18th) and Anthony Bonner (23rd). We also "drafted" Bimbo Coles at #40, but he was dealt to Miami for Rory Sparrow. Fun fact: Kevin Pritchard was selected 34th by the Golden State Warriors. Fond memory of this draft was working out of town on business, holed up at the Best Western in Willows, watching the draft unfold while sitting on my bed in a pair of boxers and feasting on a bucket of KFC extra crispy.
Now we're getting somewhere!
G: Best: The Rock, duh. Worst: Michael Jackson. I took this assignment very seriously, and created probably the lamest Basketball-Reference search ever when I compared seasons by Michael Jackson, Rory Sparrow, and Othell Wilson. Sparrow and Wilson each played one season for the Kings, Jackson played three. His first year with the team came as a 23-year-old rookie. In 13 minutes per game, he averaged 2.7 points per game. This was the best year of his career. After three seasons, he was out of the NBA
bte: Mitch Richmond - IMO, the greatest Sacramento King. Most memorable to me was his ability to play as a workhorse - he was the sun, moon and stars every game for so many seasons. The offense was "pass it to Mitch and clear out" because there were no other options with the game on the line. The one-four flat time and time again. Fun fact (find by bte, edit by section): Kenny Natt wore the #2 for the Kansas City Kings for four games (and as many minutes) in 1985, averaging 0.0 points. See? History is knowledge!
Aykis: When my dad first started taking me to Kings games in 1996, Mitch Richmond was the only player I really knew, all the way up until the day he was traded. He was the one guy I could point out on the court or on the television. Now that I've grown up, it saddens me that I can't really remember all that much of his time here. He was arguably one of the most talented players in the league, stuck in a bad situation on a team with owners that couldn't get him the help he needed. None other than Michael Jordan himself called Mitch one of the toughest players to go up against.
Oh, and a dude named Michael Jackson wore #2 for the Kings! I smell a Photoshop...
section: Chris Webber might have become the greatest Sacramento King of all time had it not been for one disagreeable knee. As such, Richmond remains the greatest Sacramento King, at least for me. I've raved about him for a long time, so I won't waste additional time here. Instead, I'll throw an honorable mention to Rory Sparrow. I remember being excited about acquiring Sparrow for the 40th pick in the 1990 draft, solely because he had been named one of eight athletes as Sports Illustrated's "Sportsmen of the Year" in 1987. Sparrow was recognized not for his athletic acumen, but for his hands-on and grass roots effort to aid underprivileged children. Back then, this was the sort of thing that was a real "putting Sacramento on the map" moment. I should clarify that Sparrow was co-Sportsmen of the Year in 1987 and did not get to the Kings until 1990, yet it still qualifies as a "map moment" when you consider the Kings of that era, which is rather depressing if you stop and consider it. I am relieved that G's exhaustive analysis did not place Sparrow on the worst list at this number, or my world might have fallen off of its axis.
section: I think that we should stop on the high note that is Mitch Richmond, and press on towards number 3 and beyond in epsiode #2, which should come out later this week. Please pack the thread with your thoughts and memories, and remember to drop Aykis and me an email if you have any comments regarding future numbers that you would like considered for publication as the series continues.