While in the midst of the basketball-less summer doldrums, the Hardwood Paroxysm crew thought back to happier times, when their favorite historical NBA teams ever wrecked havoc upon the league. Read about the teams we wish could have lived forever, and then tell us about your favorite teams in the comments.
Long Live the Early 2000s Sacramento Kings
By Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie)
Man, was this set of teams fun. From 2001-2004, the Kings won no less than 55 games each season, peaking with their 61 win, seven game Western Conference Finals series against the Lakers 2002 campaign. I cannot remember a more finely-tuned or unselfish offense to watch than this one, and the entire team hinged on the front court passing dimensions provided by Chris Webber and Vlade Divac.
Seemingly finding angles that no one other forwards could, the two combined to average nine assists per game over the three year stretch from 2002-04. With both capable of knocking down the 17 foot jump shot or making an impromptu no-look bounce pass to a backdoor cutter, the defense was permanently unaware of what could happen next. Webber particularly seems rather underrated by the public now, as his 2002 season of 24.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists stands up against any season recorded by a power forward since then. When his time comes for the Hall of Fame, he will assuredly have a supporter in me.
While the front court was exciting in and of itself, the backcourt is what truly ended up dazzling onlookers. With guys like Jason “White Chocolate” Williams, Bobby Jackson, Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, and Hedo Turkoglu, the thrilling passes never ceased to amaze. Be it with the brazen showboating of Williams or exuberant unpredictability of Christie, I’m not even sure that the person receiving the pass knew if it was coming or not until it hit their hands.
The ball just never stopped moving. Even when the team traded away the thrilling — albeit mercurial — Williams in 2001 for metronomic Bibby, they didn’t skip a beat in excitement. And we haven’t even gotten to the Serbian sharpshooting sensation Peja Stojakovic. If you only remember his days as a hanger-on for the Mavericks’ 2011 title team, you should go back and watch his 2004 season, where he finished fourth in MVP voting. His 24 points per game while possessing a 62.4 percent true shooting percentage on a 24 percent usage rate has only been replicated by three other players in the past decade. During the three-year stretch of 2002-04, Stojakovic looked like he was on his way to a Hall of Fame career of his own until injuries ravaged his body.
With five above-average passers that were never afraid to move the ball, the spacing on this team was as immaculate as any lunar eclipse and as rare as getting to see Halley’s Comet. No team since then has come close to matching the all-around beauty of the early-2000s Kings, and it’s a terrible shame that they were robbed of their chance to play in the NBA Finals in 2002 — where they would have almost assuredly won a title.