Kings Comebacks

By now, you’ve probably heard that one time Sacramento King Greg Ostertag is inspired to make a comeback attempt after watching last season’s playoffs and being coerced by his wife to get out of the house.

I was always confused by the career of Greg Ostertag. He always seemed like an oaf and completely overmatched. Yet, when I reviewed Game Six of the 1997 Western Conference Finals against the Rockets, he matched Hakeem Olajuwon point for point (16 to 16), outrebounded him (14 to 11) and shut him down in the fourth quarter. It was an alarming performance that I never really remembered until a couple of weeks ago.

But then you look at his career numbers and there’s nothing exciting in terms of his numbers – 4.6 points per, 5.5 rebounds per, 1.7 blocks per. He has lovely Per 36 numbers of 8.6 points and 10.1 rebounds but there must have been a reason that he didn’t often play over 20 minutes per game in a season (just five times in his 11 years).

So when I read that ‘Tag was thinking about a reunion with the NBA, I wanted to get the biggest fan I know to weigh and give me his summation on the Greg Ostertag era with the Kings. This is what I got as a response:

“My summary of feelings regarding Greg Ostertag’s tenure with the Kings: Ha ha ha. Ha ha. Ha.” – Tom Ziller.

That pretty much sums it up, I guess. Nobody really wants to see him return, outside of his family. But it got me thinking of which former Kings would I like to see on the court for one more season, preferably in a Kings’ uniform so I could experience it locally. Here’s the list that I came up with.

Honorable Mention: Frank Brickowski, 1994-1995
Although, Frank technically spent a year with the Kings, he was injured his shoulder before the season started and never logged a single step onto the floor. We never got to experience the greatness of the Brick. I think the Kings and their fans missed out. After all, he did have career averages of 10 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 51.9% from the field in over 700 games, although that might have meant less Alaa Abdelnaby (sorry, he didn’t make the list).

10. Ryan Robertson, 1999-2000
The pride of Lawton, Oklahoma only played one game with the Kings back in AFTER the lockout-shortened season and scored five points in 25 minutes. He had a decent career at Kansas and may have only been drafted because of a big game in the NCAA tournament his senior year. He’s still just 33 years old today but I’d venture to say that he still looks like he was 12.

9. Dwayne Schintzius, 1991-1992
This picture should explain it all.


8. Vitaly Potapenko, 2005-2007
I don’t know if you’ve had the pleasure of seeing Mrs. Potapenko but having her back in town wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

7. Mike Peplowski, 1993-1994
Pepper! I’d love to see a buddy cop show called Pepper and Peaches. Can you imagine Peaches and Peplowski running around Sacramento, solving crimes, cleaning up Oak Park, fighting with Davis cops because they’re investigating matters outside of their jurisdiction… the possibilities are endless! Peaches would be just like David Caruso on CSI: Duluth and constantly be giving one-liners while Peplowski flies off the handle and gets physical with the people they’re interrogating.

Pepper will end up flying off the handle and smacking a guy while Peaches puts on his glasses and says something like, “Ouch…talk about King me.” I’m all for Peplowski’s return.

6. Michael “Yogi” Stewart, 1997-1998
Yogi was the original, local boy makes good story before Matt Barnes and Carmichael Dave. The former Kings ball boy came out of nowhere after an underwhelming career at Cal. He recorded 195 blocks in his rookie season, which was good for sixth in the league and only 12 fewer than his entire four years at Berkeley. He turned that into a nice contract with the Raptors and then was turned into an afterthought in Toronto as he was rarely utilized. He’s still only 34 years old and could probably provide the Kings with some much-needed shot blocking inside.

5. Jim Les, 1990-1994
If anybody could teach Tyreke Evans how to be a prolific shooter, it’s Jim Les. Despite career numbers that are actually not very good, he led the league in three-point shooting in 1991 and was fifth two seasons later. He would have to give up a nice college coaching career to make one last run with the Kings at the age of 46 but I’m sure that Bradley would hold his spot as he breaks out the short shorts, feathery Blagojevich-like hair, and the long range jumper for the Arco faithful one more time.

Maybe he can even bring back his basketball camp for all of the little Kings fans out there.

4. Michael Smith, 1994-1998
The Animal was probably one of the most impressive rebounders that I have ever seen in Sacramento. He wasn’t all that physically imposing. He wasn’t the most athletic guy on the team. But he could rebound like…well… an animal.

Although, they don’t appear to be the same type of player, I see a lot of similarities between Smith and Jon Brockman’s games. Smith would be a perfect backup for the Kings right about now. They need that energy guy off the bench and I’m not sure they have it in form of a big man (Cisco and Sergio should be energetic enough on the perimeter). So let’s see what 37-yr old Michael Smith is up to and have Geoff throw a contract his way.

3. Sarunas Marciulionis, 1995-1996
If you’ve seen the movie Terminator: Salvations, then you’re familiar with the model of terminator model before the Arnold Schwarzenegger’s version. It was a very similar version but it wasn’t ready to wreak havoc on the world yet, like the Arnold version. Well, that’s pretty much the exact same evolution as Sarunas Marciulionis and Manu Ginobili.

If you can find old clips of Rooney, the most striking thing about his game is how many moves look like stuff Manu pulls off on a nightly basis. The hard step to the side when going for a lay-up is there. The various, acrobatic up-and-unders are there. The silky, smooth jump shot is there. Everything is there. So I wouldn’t mind watching Rooney lace ‘em up one more time and throw down for a season with the Kings. He can even Christian Bale scream at Mario Elie if he has to.

2. Walt Williams, 1992-1996
My two favorite Kings of all time (until Tyreke Evans figures out how to out-man everybody) both share the last name of Williams. My favorite King is the one at the number one spot on this list but number two is definitely Walt Williams. Maybe it was the goatee. Maybe it was the giant elbow pad. It probably was the high socks. But whatever it was about Walt Williams, I bought into it – big time. As a rookie, he seemed too good to be true with the way he scored the ball. He had an all-around game with rebounding, passing, and shooting. He could make plays for other guys. And he had high socks!

Walt Williams is someone I followed throughout his whole career. I loved him on the Kings. I loved him on the Rockets. I loved him on the Mavs. I loved him on Portland. Hell, I even enjoyed his short stay with Miami when he teamed up with Sasha Danilovic. Walt will always be the Wizard to me and will always hold a place in my basketball heart. I’d love for him to be a three-point specialist with the 2009-2010 Kings.

1. Jason Williams, 1998-2001
I enjoyed the way he set the basketball world on fire. I loved the way that he injected adrenaline and fun into Sacramento Kings basketball. And I loved the fact that he entertained his fans to the fullest while he was in Sacramento. Plus, any excuse to post this puts him number one on this comeback list.

Forget the comeback in Orlando, Jason. Come back home.


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