The Sacramento Kings have long endured the frustrations of a franchise often filled with hope, yet spurned by fate. Since the crowning of the Rochester Royals in 1951, winning an NBA title has remained an elusive goal. In spite of this painful fact, fans have still been given the gift of talented athletes. Although star power has not come along as frequently as it does in the big cities, it has still lured countless Kings’ faithful to Arco Arena. The same fans that have tolerated the dark years have also been witness to spectacles such as “The Greatest Show on Court”. Few fans have felt that same amount of pride as Kings’ fans did when Chris Webber welcomed John Stockton to Arco Arena with a friendly lowered shoulder back in 1999. Webber and many others have graced the courts of the Kings’ franchise, whether it was in Rochester, Cincinnati, or Sacramento. In an attempt to recognize those players I am breaking down the top five greatest Kings of all time.
5. Bob Davies
A member of the old school Kings, Davies roamed the court long before any of today’s athletes were born. He was an integral part of their lone championship in 1951 and rivaled Bob Cousy with his dribbling skills. Known as the “Harrisburg Houdini” during his days at Seton Hall, Davies continued to display those skills in the NBA. His number 11 jersey is retired and on display in Arco Arena. Davies spent seven years with the Royals scoring over 6,000 points and totaling 2,250 assists.
4. Mitch Richmond
Richmond arrived from the Golden State Warriors via trade in 1991. In what Warrior fans recall as the “worst trade of the 90’s”, the Kings gave up monumental bust Billy Owens in exchange for what would be their leading scorer for seven consecutive years. In 1995 Richmond single-handedly carried the Kings into the playoffs. He was a six time NBA All Star and the driving force behind the franchise for the better part of a decade. The only tarnish in his otherwise stellar Kings repertoire was a trade and subsequent championship with the despised Los Angeles Lakers.
3. Chris Webber
The rock of the Kings’ most recent golden years, Webber was a man who found himself hated and loved by fans. Arriving with a negative attitude, he was slowly won over by forgiving viewers with short-term memories. His early days of reinventing the NBA and ending the deathly slow pace made popular by the New York Knicks and Miami Heat, gave way to new and exciting games. Webber and Jason Williams combined to provide a nightly highlight reel for ESPN’s Sportscenter. While they never made it deep into the playoffs, they provided those who came to the games with more than their money’s worth. Webber was an All NBA First Team selection in 2001 and won the rebounding title with 13.0 per game during the lockout shortened 1998-99 season. It was Webber and company who would bring the Kings closest to the NBA title with a hard fought, gut wrenching loss to the Lakers in seven games. His presence on the Kings allowed them to reach the playoffs for five consecutive seasons. The trade of Webber to the Philadelphia 76ers would signify the end of an era revered and loathed by all Kings’ fans as the greatest and most painful seasons in history.
2. Nate Archibald
Nate “Tiny” Archibald was a man who proved that size did not matter. In 1973 he became the first and only player to lead the NBA in scoring (34.0 per game) and assists (11.4). Pound for pound, Archibald is the most talented competitor to display his skills for the Kings’ franchise. Archibald totaled 16,481 points and contributed 6,476 assists during his 14 seasons. He thrived in a big man’s world and helped lead the way for players like Spud Webb, Earl Boykins, and Nate Robinson.
1. Oscar Robertson
Simply put, Robertson is the greatest player in the history of the franchise. His ability to score at will, rebound, and pass are unrivaled by the majority of the NBA today. His talent is aptly measured by the fact that he is not considered the “Lebron James of his time”, but vice versa. It is King James that has to live up to the standards of the original triple threat. Robertson’s career averages of 25.7 points, 9.5 assists, and 7.5 rebounds reveal a player that was truly a one-man wrecking crew. The unexpected trade of Robertson to the Milwaukee Bucks in 1970 is considered similar to the trading of Babe Ruth in 1919. The Bucks would go on to win a championship in their first season with Robertson, while the Kings are still fighting for a chance to return. Robertson was a legend and while other Kings’ players have captured the support of the fans, no one can match the talent and ability of number 14.