While we're all fans of the Kings as a team, everyone still ends up having players they like and players they don't like. Great players inspire a following, and sometimes not so great players still do thanks to other reasons.
I have a lot of favorite players over the years. If you've been a member of the site for a while you know that Peja Stojakovic is my favorite player of all time but he wasn't my first favorite player. My first favorite player was Jason Williams. Williams was the player that first got me ecited about watching Kings basketball every now and then, and listening to the radio. Every day there was a highlight of something Jason Williams did on the court, and it helped that the Kings were getting good again.
My love for Peja started because I really admired his shooting ability, and I spent hours in my backyard trying to perfect my own three point stroke. I also felt a connection to him since Peja had played in Greece before the NBA and I was Greek.
I remember that as a kid I went to a few events to meet Peja, but was never able to get to do it. One time my older cousin took me to wait in line at a new Sprint store in Folsom that Peja was signing autographs at. The line was long and by the time I got to the store entrance, Peja had already left.
That year at Easter, I was serving as an Altar Boy. In the Greek Orthodox church, we have a big Easter service right at midnight where we come out and sing hymns and prayers outside. That Easter, everybody kept staring in my direction and I couldn't figure out why. I also couldn't really try to figure it out since I was part of the service as an Altar Boy. It was only after that someone came up to me and said "Dude, Peja Stojakovic was standing behind you the whole time!". I couldn't believe that I had been so close to my favorite player and yet been so oblivious.
I also was a huge fan of Vlade Divac. My parents got me an early birthday present one year in which I got to go to Vlade's youth basketball camp at Folsom High School for a whole week. I still have the shirts that they handed out at this camp, and the signed pictures that we all got to take with Vlade. I'd upload the pics but they're at my parents' house. Vlade was an extremely personable and funny man. He was the first pro basketball player I had ever gotten to meet in person and the very first thing I noticed was just how freaking tall 7'1 really is (especially to a young teenager). I was more used to seeing tall people than most people my age as my cousin (the same one that took me to stand in line for Peja's autograph) was 6'9, but those extra four inches make a big difference.
The coolest part about Vlade's camp was how much time he spent with us kids. He was there every day to show off drills and answer questions, and almost everyone got a few moments alone with him (not just in the end of week picture that everyone got). I remember he asked me what my name was and when I told him he asked if it was Greek. When I said yes, he asked me if I could speak Greek. Being the smartass little kid I was I said "Nai", which means yes in Greek. Vlade laughs and then says "Ego, ohi" or "Me, no" in Greek. That memory will always stick with me. I enjoyed that camp so much I got my parents to let me go for a second week.
While I could go on about about all my favorite players from the glory era, the recent years have been relatively slim pickings, largely due to how bad the team has been. Kevin Martin was the sole ray of light in the franchise for a while there, and I was sad to see him leave the Kings on semi-bad terms. Tyreke Evans was a breath of fresh air in his rookie year, but he lost some favor with me in the preceding years as he failed to improve.
Isaiah Thomas on the other hand came in and changed things. I'll admit that some of my appreciation for Thomas came from the fact that I was originally stumping for the Kings to draft him in the second round that year, but most of it came from what Thomas was actually able to do on the court. Here was a guy who was shorter than I was and yet managed to keep pace with some of the best Point Guards in the game. His ability to simply take over and change the course of games was better than any King I had ever seen aside from perhaps Webber, Bibby and Bobby Jackson. Thomas exceeded everyone's expectations except his own, and it's still hard to wrap my head around the fact that he's not a Sacramento King anymore.
Going forward, I'm not sure if I have a "favorite" King on this roster. The closest would probably be DeMarcus Cousins and Ray McCallum, but I could see a guy like Nik Stauskas getting up there thanks to my penchant for shooters. I really like Rudy Gay, but I'm still wary that he might not be a King in the long-haul if he doesn't get an extension. Whatever the case, thanks to the efforts of the city, ownership and fans like you, there will be plenty more years and plenty more players that I'll be able to list among my favorites.
What about you guys? Who are some of your favorite Kings players of all time and why? Share your answers and stories in the comments!