Remnants of the Sacramento Kings: Adelman, Williams Leave NBA
The Golden Age of the Sacramento Kings continues to fade to the background – which only may be fitting for a franchise that has one foot out of NorCal’s door.
In the course of two days, Memphis Grizzlies PG Jason Williams and Houston Rockets head coach Rick Adelman have called it quits in the NBA. Williams, a 12-year veteran, bounced around the league throughout his career, while winning a championship with the Miami Heat in 2006. He had career averages of 10.5 points and 5.9 assists. Adelman spent 22 years as head coach in the NBA, with tenures with four different teams, including a Portland Trail Blazers squad that reached the NBA Finals in 1992.
Needless to say, both men were integral cogs in the renaissance of the Sacramento Kings franchise. Adelman had a history with the Kings before he was hired as head coach in 1999 – not many people realize he was acquired by the Kansas City-Omaha Kings in 1975, to serve as veteran leadership. It was the final year of his playing career.
As head coach of the Sacramento Kings, Adelman oversaw the franchise’s most successful period in a half a century. In Sacramento, Adelman went 395-229, with a .633 winning percentage, and never had a losing season. He led Sacramento to its first playoff series win (2001, vs. the Phoenix Suns), and, with players like Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Doug Christie and Bobby Jackson, continued to improve the team. Adelman eventually led the team to the precipice of an NBA title in 2002, only to be stopped by the Los Angeles Lakers – and (allegedly) some crooked referees – in the Western Conference Finals.
While Mike Bibby led the Kings to successful playoff runs during Adelman’s coaching tenure, it was point guard Jason Williams – nicknamed “White Chocolate” – that helped revitalize pro basketball in the Capitol City. Drafted No. 7 overall in the 1998 NBA Draft from Florida, Williams dazzled fans all over the country with his spectacular assists, incredible field vision, and knack for three-point shooting.
With the relative obscurity J-Will has had in the last few years, it is easy to forget how good he was coming up in the league. Many would be surprised to know that Williams finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting (behind Vince Carter and Paul Pierce). His highlights were so eye-popping in his three seasons with the Kings, people began comparing him to the great “Pistol” Pete Maravich. Subsequently, he rose to become one of the Kings’ most popular players, up until he was traded to the Vancouver (soon-to-be Memphis) Grizzlies after the 2001 season. He was traded for Mike Bibby, in order to provide better stability at the point guard position.
It’s times like these – and by “times like these”, I mean when local institutions are about to be decimated – when it is important to reflect on a glorious past. In this case, the Kings of the 2000’s would not be what it will be remembered for without these two. They, along with current players like Peja Stojakovic, helped the Joe Malsmallest-market team in the league rise to national prominence. That is something the Maloofs and the city of Anaheim can never take from the Sacramento Kings or their fans. So, to Adelman and Williams – they may have ended their respective careers on relative whimpers, but they will always roar true as Sacramento Kings.
We, who are true Kings fans, salute you.
Kings to Anaheim? Not Without a Fight …
As the Maloofs mount their assault to relocate the Kings franchise down south to Anaheim, it’s good to see that the city of Sacramento isn’t taking it lying down.
Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson is spearheading a local movement to convince the NBA that the Capitol City is enough of a viable market to keep running. Johnson, a former NBA All-Star from the Phoenix Suns, is representing the city of Sacramento in recent talks of the franchise’s future home. Reportedly, many local businesses have committed over $7 million in financial support to show NBA owners, as a show of good faith that they are willing to back a new stadium in the future. While the deadline for the Maloofs to push forward on relocation plans had been delayed until May 2, Mayor Johnson assured that this was a good thing.
“The fact that we’re here and we bought two more weeks, that is a big, big deal,” Johnson was quoted as saying recently. “We get a chance to put our best foot forward.”
After everyone assumed the Kings moving to Anaheim was all but a done deal, Mayor Johnson began to stir up the pot by introducing a potential new owner that was willing to buy the Kings franchise from the Maloofs: billionaire Ron Burkle. After word got out that the Maloofs were not interested in selling, Johnson moved on to plan B (and what the city probably should have done months ago): show the NBA they do not want to lose their beloved Kings.
It was obvious that the news of the franchise’s potential move was weighing heavily on everyone involved, including longtime Kings announcers Grant Napear and Jerry Reynolds, as anyone can see in this clip, after Sacramento’s potential final game with the franchise. It represents how difficult the whole ordeal has been for the Kings fan base, as well as its work force – from the announcers down to the ushers and janitorial staff. It also shows how much the Kings have meant to the city of Sacramento – not as a revenue stream, but as an institution to the entire region.
However, it may be too little, too late. It seems that the Kings’ only hope of staying in the city is, on top of Sacramento showing they still have a viable market, if Jerry Buss and Donald Sterling – owners of the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, respectively – can convince enough of the brass to block the Maloofs’ move down south. In that case, the LA-based owners would their own revenue streams to themselves, rather than share the wealth with a third franchise.
At this point, with the city of Anaheim having been firmly in control of winning the Kings franchise, Sacramento is beginning to gain ground. However, there still much work to be done, and more catching up to do.