Saving Sacramento: Chris Webber’s legacy with the Kings
Webber and company was fresh air for a stale league. A decade ago, defensive systems and labour issues killed momentum from the Michael Jordan era. Basketball was boring. And then came these Kings, a ragtag bunch that won outscoring opponents with a flash, creativity and pizzazz better suited for the playground. Simply put, they were entertaining …
NBA news mixed with analysis …
Their News: Yet that’s exactly where Webber ended up Friday night when the Kings retired their former power forward’s number in recognition of his pivotal role in this long-struggling franchise’s greatest years.
I’m just happy, humbled, excited –having every emotion you can think of, including a stomach that’s tied up in knots," said Webber, who didn’t betray any of those nerves in his grey three-button suit and bright-red tie with matching ocket square. "This was a really unexpected honor, one that I never expected to receive. (ESPN news via the Associated Press)
Our Very Quick Analysis: Sacramento had always been destination nowhere, an outpost for over-the-hill players to finish their careers.
Enter Chris Webber. In the summer of 1999, the former first overall pick was traded to the down-and-out franchise. And things were never the same.
Overnight, the power forward, with help from friends like Jason Williams and Vlade Divac, turned the league’s Siberia into ‘The Spot’. After a half-season of behind the back passes, the Kings started receiving national coverage. Mix in some international talent and suddenly little old Sacramento had a global following.
Why did they develop cult-hero status?
Webber and company was fresh air for a stale league. A decade ago, defensive systems and labour issues killed momentum from the Michael Jordan era. Basketball was boring. And then along came these Kings, a ragtag bunch that won with a flash, creativity and pizzazz that belonged on the playground. Simply put, they entertained.
Sacramento was, and still is, the anti-Los Angeles. Years ago, this rivalry was magnified. Northern California represented all the purple-and-gold haters in their quest to end Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson’s dominance of the basketball world. Of course, ‘Big Shot Bob’ and (allegations of) suspect refereeing killed the Kings’ championship aspirations.
Unfortunately, most overlook Webber’s time in Sacramento. Instead, they remember failures in Michigan, Golden State, Washington, and off-court troubles. This is fair. It is also important to remember what ‘C-Webb’ meant to King fans.
(Sacramento paying respect before yesterday’s ceremony)
Say what you like about Webber, but he put Sacramento on the NBA map. Most importantly, he, and those great King teams, reminded us that basketball should be fun.
How do you remember C-Webber and the Kings? Should Sacramento have retired his jersey? Get at us in the comment box with thoughts and come back to HoopsVibe The Blog for further NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of apevny.