I went to the Kings/Raptors game last week, and I couldn’t help but notice the varying levels of reception for each of the four former Kings, running from warm (Chuck Hayes) to polite (Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson) to somewhere between tepid and surly (John Salmons). This got me thinking about all of the other former Kings that are currently employed in the NB of A, and it inspired me to create a list of the players and how I perceive they would be received at Sleep Train Arena in the here and the now.
The "Welcome Home, Brother" Bunch – These are the guys that would receive the warmest of receptions. Stay as long as you want. Mi casa es su casa. Kind of like when your favorite sibling or a really hot distant cousin visits.
Francisco Garcia – I believe that Cisco is the last player to sit on a Kings roster that actually played in a playoff game for the Kings. Francisco played in 462 games for the Kings, ranking him fifth on the all-time Sacramento Kings list and ahead of guys like Vlade Divac and Lionel Simmons. Coming out of Louisville as the 23rd pick of the 2005 draft, Garcia was the consummate competitor and teammate. Like Corliss Williamson, he had/has the look of a guy that will be a career basketball man if that is what he chooses. I think that Garcia will always be very warmly received in Sacramento. Perhaps not Bobby Jackson status, but close.
Hedo Turkoglu – Hedo comes in right behind Garcia. It seems hard to believe that Turkoglu played his last game in a Sacramento uniform in the 2003 playoffs. He was a fan favorite when he was here for his precociousness and his little brother persona to Divac and Chris Webber. Turkoglu gets love for being part of the golden age of Kings basketball, and for being a great guy while he was here in Sacramento.
The "Welcome Home, Cousin" Bunch - Guys that receive a warm welcome, but no one offers to put them up for the night. This is your favorite Uncle before he has that one-too-many drink at Thanksgiving.
Ron Artest / Metta World Peace – Artest / MWP wound up being a bit of a lovable nut while he was here, malnutritioned dogs notwithstanding. Sort of the old anti-hero becomes a hero story. He pretty much single-handedly saved the 2005-06 season, and he kept things pretty interesting until his departure in 2008. Artest / MWP has gone from villain to caricature to renaissance man as the years have passed, and he generally receives a nice reception when he comes to town…at least since he stopped wearing Laker yellow.
Kevin Martin – Martin may have been the first truly polarizing player of Sactown Royalty’s existence. Those that loved him noted the efficiency, while those that loathed him blamed him for the team’s miserable performance (a scarlet letter that he passed on to Tyreke Evans upon his exodus). But Martin has pretty much been exonerated for having played for the Kings during the M*loofian downfall, and he is probably thought of as the third best shooting guard of the Kings’ Sacramento era, behind only Mitch Richmond and Doug Christie.
Tyreke Evans – Tyreke received a nice welcome when he visited here for the first time as a New Orleans Pelican, and he rewarded everyone by hanging a 25/12/6 night on the Kings. But I think that he will always receive a better-than-polite greeting here, and that by and large the Kings fan base wishes him well.
The "Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" Bunch – This group is more fondly remembered than the sum of their work would merit. This is like thinking fondly about an ex-spouse, while your friends look at you and shake their collective heads in astonishment.
Gerald Wallace – Gerald always gets a nice reception when he plays here. Gerald averaged 3 points and 2 rebounds per game as a Sacramento King. But he finished second to Jason Richardson in a slam dunk contest in which many felt he was robbed (Bavetta!), and he is a symbol of what is wrong with the Kings to a generation of fans that came along after he was gone.
Omri Casspi – Casspi had to the physical tool kit to be the defensive-minded, three-point shooting 3/4 that they had been desperately looking for. But he either didn’t have the head, or he didn’t have the desire to be the third or fourth fiddle in the orchestra (do orchestras have fiddles?). He was ultimately dealt to Cleveland for !@#$%^&*, where he did not fare much better. He is enjoying a rebirth of sorts in Houston this year, where he’s basically putting up the same numbers that he put here during his rookie year. But there was a lot of hype and pride over Omri being the first Israeli player to be chosen in the draft, and the picture of him and Iran’s Hamed Hadaddi was an instant classic. Kings fans like Omri Casspi.
Beno Udrih – No one boos the Yeti! Honestly, part of the love for Beno revolves around who he is not, and that fish will spawn upstream later on this list. But Beno never harmed anyone and generally played hard, and he is OK as far as Kings fans are concerned.
Chuck Hayes – Can’t lie, the warm reception for Ground Chuck the other night surprised me a little. Overpaid and overweight punctuated Hayes’ stay here. But when he was right, he set picks and played defense, and he’s kind of a local guy, and that gives him the nod of approval of most Kings fans.
The "Gone But Not Forgotten" Bunch – Guys that did just enough to earn less than love, and less than wrath. Pretty much any of your nieces or nephews that you see once in a blue moon.
Ronnie Price – Not everyone remembers Ronnie Price’s time with the Kings, but those that do remember this, and that earns him a spot here on the list.
Toney Douglas – Toney may scoot down this list as the years go by, but right now he is remembered as a willing defender, and a guy that would be giving needed minutes behind Isaiah Thomas right about now.
Thomas Robinson – Kind of seen as a victim of circumstance at this point. Most Kings fans are rooting for him.
Greivis Vasquez – He was what we were told he was and not what we hoped he was. But he said all the right things and was fun to watch from time to time.
Cole Aldrich – Many Kings fans have a soft spot for the big lug. Currently not playing for the Knicks, which is really saying something when you consider what the Knicks have been through this year. But he posted back-to-back double-doubles late in the season for the Kings last year, so he gets the Ike Diogu treatment from Kings fans.
Patrick Patterson – Nice guy that couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn when the Kings really needed it, but has been better lately. Worked hard enough to avoid the ire of Kings fans.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute – Oh Luc, how could we not love your penchant for defense? How could we live with those balky knees? Meh. Meh, meh, meh.
The "Expendables" – Guys that never played here but kind of get a soft pass when they play here. They are kind of like the fourth cousins, twice removed of your family.
Garrett (ten day) Temple, Robin (just passing through) Lopez, Bismack (boy, are you guys not going to like this trade) Biyombo and Orlando (cash considerations) Johnson.
The "I Have No Son" Bunch – Excommunicated from the family. Ranked in progressive order, from mildly ticked off to "You better have that vein in your forehead looked at right away!"
John Salmons – To a degree, Salmons is a victim of circumstance. It wasn’t his idea to execute the God-awful trade that brought him back here, and who’s going to say no to the contract that was offered to him? On top of that, he was asked to fill a position (small forward) that was not really his strong suit. But the combination of the environment during his two stays here, his style of play and his demeanor has earned him at least a few detractors, and there were at least a few scattered boos for him when Toronto came to town.
James Johnson – Kings fans had high hopes for Johnson, which he quickly dashed, save for a desperation 3-pointer against the Knicks. Out of shape and seemingly disinterested, Johnson fell out of favor with Kings fans. But it was the wearing of the Seattle Sonics hat during the relocation saga that sealed his deal, and the fact that he has shed what looks like 40 pounds and is playing the best basketball of his life for Memphis doesn’t help matters, either. Boo, James. Boo.
J.J. Hickson – OK, here’s the thing. Hickson gets booed everywhere that he has previously played. They boo him in Cleveland, they boo him in Sacramento, and they boo him in Portland. One day he will be booed in Denver. He is the consummate stat stuffer that seems to have very little to do with whether his team wins or loses. He had the look of a guy that quit on his team here, and Kings fans don’t like quitters.
Matt Barnes – Honestly, there are probably a lot of folks that don’t even know that Barnes played here (he signed here in 2004 and was shipped out as part of the Chris Webber purge), and he’s a local guy to boot. But he’s been a punk on the court and a punk off the court, and Kings fans really, really don’t like this guy. He’s the silver medalist of this bunch. He could have been public enemy #1 if not for the efforts of:
Spencer Hawes – How can a guy that wears a "Peaches" shirt ascend to the top/bottom of this list? By being a douchenozzle when it came to the potential relocation of the Kings to Seattle, that’s how. Hawes is virtually the only ex-King to get booed almost every time he touches the ball (this probably happens in Philadelphia, too). He is pure, unadulterated evil. Spencer Hawes is everything that is wrong with America, and he is why sometimes puppies get run over and the Kings never get lucky in the lottery. He is the demon seed. He’s Robert Horry’s negative reflection. And I hear that he smells like three-day-old Greg Ostertag (well that’s what I heard!). BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!
I’m pretty sure that I missed a player or two (remember, I was just going over the active players), so feel free to light up the thread with my omissions. Or pontificate on the day when non-King Marcus Thornton or Jimmer Fredette visits Sacramento. And as always, thanks for reading.
Remember, you can always send your questions or topic ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. An empty mailbox means that I get to write about whatever I want, and that’s not good for anybody.