Does Peja Stojakovic deserve to have his number retired by the Sacramento Kings?
Peja Stojakovic is joining a hallowed club in Sacramento Kings franchise history. In December, his No. 16 will be raised to rafters of Sleep Train Arena, where it will hang for the next two seasons until it moves to its permanent home inside the team’s new downtown arena in 2016.
“Peja was part of the awesome Kings dynasty that we’re working hard to bring back to Sacramento,” said Kings General Manager Pete D’Alessandro in a statement. “His high basketball IQ and unique ability to connect with the fans had a huge impact on the team and the community, and we hope Peja’s passion and determination carry over into this new era of Kings basketball.”
Since the news broke yesterday, there’s been plenty of debate. Is Stojakovic deserving of this honor? Some say yes. Others say no. Let’s explore the reasons for and against the retirement of Stojakovic’s No. 16.
The Sacramento Kings should hang No. 16 up in the rafters because…
- Stojakovic is one of five players during the Kings’ 30-year history in Sacramento to be named an NBA All-Star. Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Brad Miller and Mitch Richmond are the other four. Stojakovic made three appearances at All-Star Weekend as a member of the Sacramento Kings during his career.
- No other player in Sacramento Kings franchise history has made and attempted more three pointers. Stojakovic ranks first in three-point makes (1,070) and attempted (2,687).
- During the Sacramento Kings’ hey-day, Peja Stojakovic was one of the team’s top two leading scorers during a five-season stretch. From 2001 to 2003 and 2004-05, Stojakovic was the Sacramento Kings’ second-leading scorer behind Webber. In 2003-04, Stojakovic lead the team in scoring and finished fourth in NBA MVP voting that season.
- Stojakovic won back-to-back 3-point contests at All-Star Weekend. In the competition’s history, only five players have won it on back-to-back occasions. Stojakovic won two-straight 3-point titles from 2002 to 2003. He was also the first European player to win the contest in NBA history.
- Only Mitch Richmond has scored more points in a Sacramento Kings uniform. Stojakovic ranks second all-time in points scored during the Sacramento-era with 9,498.
The Sacramento Kings should not hang No. 16 up in the rafters because…
- He’s not a future Hall of Famer. Basketball-Reference gives Stojakovic a 0.034 chance of making it into the Naismith Hall of Fame.
- He wasn’t a leader on those great Sacramento Kings’ teams of the early oughts like Webber and Divac.
- Stojakovic was the second or third best player on a team that never won an NBA championship.
- If you retire his number, what does that say about the other key members of those great Sacramento Kings’ teams? Should Mike Bibby, Brad Miller, Bobby Jackson or Doug Christie have their numbers raised to the rafters as well?
- He didn’t elevate his game when it mattered most. His career player efficiency rating as a member of the Sacramento Kings dipped from 18.3 in the regular season to 16.0 in the playoffs.
Personally, I think Stojakovic is worthy of the honor. The retirement of a player’s number shouldn’t be judged on how many titles he won or if he’s a surefire Hall of Famer. In addition to having the numbers that back his case, Stojakovic played a meaningful role on the great Sacramento Kings teams of the 2000s. They were certainly deep enough to get by without him, but they were at another level when he was at his best.
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