Sacramento Kings set to retire Peja Stojakovic’s jersey

Peja Stojakovic shares laughs with Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

Peja Stojakovic’s No. 16 is about to get the royal treatment.

The Sacramento Kings announced this morning that they intend to retire the former All-Star forward’s jersey on Dec. 16 when the Kings face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Sleep Train Arena.  Stojakovic joins Mitch Richmond, Vlade Divac and Chris Webber as the fourth Sacramento-era King to receive the honor.

Drafted by the Kings with the 14th overall selection in the 1996 NBA Draft, Stojakovic spent another two seasons playing in Europe before joining Sacramento following the 1998 lockout.  Over his eight seasons with the Sacramento Kings, Stojakovic and his teammates compiled a record of 395-229 record, including eight-straight playoff appearances.

Their unselfish play and entertaining style earned them the moniker “The greatest show on court”, which was featured on the cover of the Feb. 19, 2001 edition of Sports Illustrated.

“Best years of my career,” Stojakovic told Cowbell Kingdom last season.  “Best years of my life.  Definitely something that we should all be proud of.  I am proud of just the relationships that we built, just the connection that we built with the people here, with the fans.  Just overall, it was amazing.  When you are a part of it, you don’t think of it as much.  But when you move along and you go to different teams, (you realize) ok, that was special.”
Stojakovic would go on to set franchise high’s in three-pointers made (1,070) and attempted (2,687), and in free throw percentage (.893).  His 518 games played in a Sacramento Kings uniform ranks first all-time, just one game ahead of Hall of Famer Mitch Richmond’s 517.During his April visit to Sacramento, we were able to ask the 37-year-old Stojakovic about the possibility of having his number retired by the Kings and the former star couldn’t stop smiling.

“It would be an unbelievable honor,” Stojakovic said.  “Unbelievable. Just when you said that, I got goose bumps.  When I was a kid, my dream was to play in the NBA.  I never thought that I would be a good player.  I never thought I was going to be an All-Star.  I never thought I would be in the playoffs.  Each and every year, for me, was special.  I was always trying to achieve somethings more.  It would definitely be an amazing honor.”

In his eight seasons in Sacramento, Stojakovic played in three All-Star games and was voted to the All-NBA second team during the 2003-04 season.  He made the playoffs in all but two of his 13 seasons in the league and helped lead the Kings to the Western Conference Finals during the 2001-02 season.

“Peja Stojakovic was instrumental in putting Sacramento on the map on a global scale,” Kings Owner Vivek Ranadivé said in the team’s official release. “As one of only a select group of Serbian players in the NBA, Peja helped carve out a place for basketball players from all over the world. Recognizing his leadership will be a special moment for fans and the entire Kings organization, as well as a great reminder of the kind of success we are building in Sacramento.”

Stojakovic was traded to the Indiana Pacers for forward Ron Artest on Jan. 25, 2006.  He would go on to play five more seasons in the league after leaving Sacramento, finishing with career averages of 17 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists.  Stojakovic retired following the 2010-11 season in which he won his first and only NBA Championship as a member of the Dallas Mavericks.

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About: James Ham

James Ham is co-owner and senior editor of Cowbell Kingdom, providing extensive Kings coverage through news analysis, in-depth interviews with players and staff and daily coverage of breaking news. Along with providing original content for the site, including the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast and his weekly Sunday Musings column, James also provides game day coverage for NBA.com and is one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart".