Listen, I’m not a huge Kings fan. It should go without saying, the Warriors are my team. But I follow the Kings pretty closely for my newspaper and because I live in Kings country, the Northstate of California.
So this year, a year we all knew was going to suck for Sacramento (now 16-61), the only major franchise in the Northstate retired Chris Webber and Vlade Divac’s jerseys. These are the epitome of Sacramento Kings, in the team’s short-lived heyday all of five years ago.
Here are two reasons I believe the Kings really went so far as to retire Divac’s jersey:
- They’ve got nothing else to celebrate because they don’t know what they’re doing — Sounds tough right? I know. This really is a franchise in flux. As I’ve written here before, the Kings have failed to plan an overall strategy for their basketball relations. It should come as no surprise that the team also has no idea what it’s doing off the court. Community relations suck right now. With a matchup against their Northern California rival last week at Arco, the team managed only 12,975 in attendance for the league’s smallest stadium (17,317). The team lists their last sellout when the Lakers came to town on Tuesday, but that’s B.S. If they had a full stadium, I have a $1 million in the bank. So why not retire the jerseys of a couple of guys, who happened to be quite popular, we shipped outta here and see if we can catch some lightning in a bottle? What do the fans know, they’re stupid anyways.
- If we’re going to give it to one part time winner, we might as well give it to two part-time winners — I’m starting to like Chris Webber on TNT. He provides a more rational mindset to Charles Barkley and is a good fill-in for Kenny Smith. But Webber isn’t deserving of getting his jersey retired — yet. Not by the Kings. Not by anyone. Retiring his jersey sets a precedent that you can get your jersey retired easily. Webber averaged 20.7 points per game in his career, 9.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 0 championships. Add to the fact he played only six of his 14 seasons in the NBA with the club, and Webber has all the characteristics of a voyeur. But there’s no denying he was dope and there was magic he brought to Kings-dom. His days in Sacramento were his best, and therefore made Sacramento a destination basketball city. Those were good days. His colleague, Divac, was brought in at the same time. They were joined at the hip in their success. In 16 seasons, Divac’s 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocks puts him in a small group of big men (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin Garnett). Garnett surpassed these numbers well before his 14th season this year. Divac only spent six NBA seasons with the Kings, not to mention the eight he spent with their heated rivals the Lakers (whom dumped Divac in favor of an impressive stud named Shaquille O’Neal. On a side note, rumor is Shaq asked Divac “why the f*** are they retiring your jersey?” as the Suns took on the Kings last week. It was hilarious.)
Do you see a common thread between the two stars? They both were talents in their own rights, good players in general. Webber, was obviously the star, but neither were winners. And neither were long-time Kings guys. In my book, you should spend at least 10 years with a franchise for consideration of retiring your jersey. These guys are likely never going to get into the Hall because their body of work is lacking of any real substance. C-Webb has the closest shot and if C-Webb gets acknowledged, you damn sure Vlade who rode his coattails will get brought up. But here we are, with a real evaluation of the two players, and it appears neither deserves the respect from the Kings nor mention of HOF prospects, but both get it due to the popularity of the one (Webber).
Are you satisfied Kings fans? NBA fans? I don’t think I am, or ever will be. The litmus test for the NBA’s history is becoming shallower as folks who simply grace the pages of the book all of a sudden become the subject. Are we confused about how we record history? Wasn’t Mitch Richmond enough?