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NBA Cult Classics: It's Not a Cult, It's a Club!


"Hi guys. S'up? Would I like to join your club? Most definitely."

OK, first off, I have to get away from all of this "cult" talk. I mean, if mom214 finds out that I’m involved in a cult, she’ll revoke my StR privileges and squire me away to fat camp (again). So for the sake of this post, it’s not a "cult," it’s a "club."

The guys have covered their favorites, so as StR’s resident janitor, it’s left to me to sweep up after the elephants, (insert Oliver Miller/Sean May/Chuck Hayes jokes here). Rantdumb thoughts on cult club heroes gone but not soon forgotten:

· Michael "Yogi" Stewart This one was not too hard to figure out. A local kid out of Kennedy High School goes to Cal and ultimately winds up undrafted. He is invited down to ARCO one day, because the Kings need someone for Peja Stojakovic to shoot over and Jerry Reynolds is tired of holding two brooms in the air. Stewart wound up earning himself an invite to camp, and he not only made the roster, he played in 81 games during his rookie season, staring 37 of them. Yogi was 5th on the team in minutes, 2nd in rebounds and amassed almost as many blocks (195) as the rest of the team combined (225). Stewart’s local-kid-made-good story, coupled with his two and a half blocks per game, made him an instant fan favorite. Stewart was an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and the Toronto Raptors offered his a 4 yr., $12m contract, and he never came close to reaching the numbers or the adoration that he had attained during his one year in Sacramento.

· Jon Barry Jon Barry averaged 6.1 points per game during his 167 games as a Sacramento King. So did Donté Greene and Terry DeHere. But Barry played with a fearlessness and a swagger and a bravado, and he knew how to play to the crowd, and his ability to connect nightly with the ARCO faithful earned him a rightful and ardent fan following. It’s safe to say that Barry is the all time Kings leader in floor burns. It’s also safe to say that most really good teams could use a Jon Barry. The story has been told here before, but after JB was traded to Detroit, Vlade Divac pranked him on his first return to Sacramento by prompting the fans to mock boo Barry when he entered the game. Unfortunately, no one let Barry’s good friend Scot Pollard know about this. Pollard was injured at the time and was sitting in on the game telecast with Grant and Jerry when Barry entered the game and the boos began to rain down from the rafters. An incensed Pollard admonished the fans for this activity and stormed off the telecast. Pollard later apologized to the fans once he was advised of Vlade’s master plan. Good times.

· Bobby Jackson B-Jax is certainly no secret to the NBA, but he certainly is one of the most beloved players in Sacramento Kings history. For accomplishments too numerous to recount here, B-Jax makes the list. (Spud Webb and Corliss Williamson are also guys that are probably too big to be considered cult heroes, but they were loved nonetheless.)

· Sarunas Marciulionis 53 games. That’s it. Sarunas Marciulionis played 53 games as a King, or the equivalent of 2.9 games for each letter in his name. But Rooney came aboard for that magic 1995-96 season, the season that saw the Kings make the playoffs for the first time in a decade. And this was not your grandma’s Kings team. Mitch Richmond, Olden Polynice, Brian Grant, Michael Smith and Corliss Williamson were all tough hombres (the team also featured Tyus Edney and Walt Williams, among others), but none of them were as tough/rugged/brutal as Marciulionis. He was Mark Olberding, packed into 2-guard form. And Kings fans fell in love with him instantly.

· Michael Smith The original Animal. Smith was a 2nd round draft pick back in 1995, the same year that the Kings drafted Brian Grant and Lawrence Funderburke. The Animal logged less than two and a half seasons in Sacramento, but he was admired by fans for his willingness to lay wood on the opponents. Unfortunately, Smith’s free throws treated rims with similar disdain. Often was the time that the ARCO Arena faithful would rise and scream in unison, attempting to will Smith’s free throws into (or at least near) the basket. In spite of Smith’s 47% free throw percentage, he found a place in the hearts of Kings fans.

· Ronnie Price

· Jim Les The Kings first truly great 3-point shooting specialist. The late, great Ricky Berry gave us a glimpse of what prolific shooting from beyond the arc could bring to a team, but Les was the first guy to really specialize (and deliver) from deep for the Kings (Harold Pressley was really the first King to shoot volume 3’s, but his .358 conversion rate paled in comparison to Les’ .420). Fans loved the little guy, his defensive deficiencies be damned.

· Mike Peplowski List all of the players in Sacramento Kings history that have saved a fellow teammate’s life by pulling them out of a ditch after a horrific car accident. Mike Peplowski is a hero to the Hurley family, and thus earns a spot on this list.

· Scot Pollard Before there was Ron Artest, Scot Pollard roamed the weirdsphere of the Sacramento Kings universe. He was the original wild and crazy guy, and the fact that he gave Karl Malone fits just made him all the more loveable. He was the class clown, but he also did all of those little things that good teams need from their bench players. Scot Pollard rocked.

· Olden Polynice I put OP here because he may be the only player to gain cult status on both ends of the spectrum. There are Kings fans that absolutely love the man, and others that loathe him. I suppose one could successfully argue that after Divac, Miller, LaSalle Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins, Polynice is the next best Kings center on the list. Others never warmed to his antics though it was tough not to like the OP-Dope.

· Justin Williams Simply, if I were starting a cult, 3-Will would be my first pick.

I’m going to refrain from delving into those gothic cults clubs, but you all know who you are. For those of you following the testament of Mikki Moore or Kenny Thomas, your parents would be ashamed of you if they knew what you were up to. Special mention to Greg Ostertag, whose signing in 2005 really signaled the beginning of the end, though we did not realize it at the time. Also, if Bobby Brown, Orien Greene, Jason Hart, Luther Head, Anthony Johnson (v2.0) or Will Solomon can be counted as one of your heroes, I’m here to tell you that they all are, in fact, the same person, and God should have mercy on your soul.

Special honors to Andres Nocioni and Hilton Armstrong. When the Kings acquired Nocioni, it brought to StR new members NoceOne and chapuforyou. These folks were the original Jimmermaniacs! DaUconnDon arrived along with Hilton Armstrong. If you’re hanging your hat on Noc or Armstrong, you’re working the wire without a net. This is one place where the word "cult" is more than applicable.

Evers Burns gets an StR honorable mention for being one of the site’s first memes. We can only dream what Sergei Monia may have become.

And I know what you’re thinking, but I made a pact with myself not to re-live it yet again…