Kings

Chris Mullin recalls Kings legend Chris Webber dominating Dream Team

Chris Mullin recalls Kings legend Chris Webber dominating Dream Team

A pair of former Kings played a role in one of the most incredible stories in NBA lore.

When a group of college players scrimmaged against one of the greatest teams ever assembled and came out on top, one eventual Sacramento star stood above the rest.

Chris Webber, then a member of Michigan's "Fab Five," was just 19 at the time. The 6-foot-10 big turned heads with his incredible talent, leaving a lasting impression on Chris Mullin.

“I remember a year later in the draft, I remember sitting down with [then-Warriors coach Don Nelson]," Mullin recalled to Tom Haberstroh on the latest episode of NBC Sports' "Habershow" podcast. "He had a few guys on the board -- Shawn Bradley, Chris Webber and maybe Penny Hardaway.

"He said, ‘what do you think?’ and I said, ‘All I know, is one day in San Diego, this guy Webber was the best player on the court, including (Larry) Bird.’ ”

Nelson's Warriors traded three first-round picks -- and the rights to Hardaway -- on draft night in 1993 to land Webber, who played with Mullin for one season. Before then, Webber and a group of college kids gave the Dream Team a wake-up call.

Mullin's fellow Olympians took on what would later become the Select Team in the weeks leading up to the Barcelona Olympics. For all intents and purposes, they were supposed to be punching bags for the superstars of the NBA as they prepared for the games.

But Webber, Bobby Hurley -- the Kings' first-round pick in 1993 -- and the rest of their teammates comprised a hand-selected group that would go on to make their own names in the league.

“That was an incredible group of young players, first off," Mullin said. "All of those guys went on to have incredible careers.”

Hurley was a gritty point guard who racked up college wins and assists at Duke like very few before him. Webber was the reigning USBWA National Freshman of the Year.

They would have to go up against the likes of John Stockton, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley and Karl Malone in practice.

Michael Jordan didn’t play that day, according to Mullin, but that doesn’t completely detract from the oft-told story. Webber and a group of college players walked into the gym and took down a team of legends.

“It was one of those scrimmages where, look, as a kid, that’s a dream of a lifetime, and they came out and they played well,” Mullin added.

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Hardaway, Allan Houston, Grant Hill, Jamal Mashburn, Rodney Rogers and Eric Montross joined Webber and Hurley on the roster. Webber, Hardaway, Houston, Hill and Mashburn would each make at least one All-Star appearance. 

Hurley's career was derailed by a car accident in his rookie season, but he still played 269 NBA games. Montross played 465, and Rogers lasted over a decade.

The Dream Team dominated their college counterparts in a rematch the next day, getting the wake-up call they needed. They would go on to run the table at the Olympics, winning every game by 30 points or more. 

[RELATED: Kent Bazemore quickly became fan favorite in short audition with Kings]

The 1992 gold medalists are widely considered the greatest group of talent ever assembled for an international tournament. Eleven of the 12 players are in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

But for one day, Webber -- not Malone, Barkley, Patrick Ewing nor David Robinson -- was the best player on the floor, at least according to Mullin.

Webber made five All-Star teams and was the anchor in the Kings’ glory years after coming to Sacramento in a 1998 trade, but the Hall of Fame has not yet called his name.

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NBA odds: Where Kings' playoff hopes stand after first NBA restart win

NBA odds: Where Kings' playoff hopes stand after first NBA restart win

So you're telling me there's a chance.

The Kings stumbled out of the gates in the NBA restart, losing their first three games in the Orlando bubble. They bounced back with an impressive 140-125 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, barely keeping their postseason chances alive.

Sacramento's playoff hopes aren't dead. However ...

They're mostly dead.

After defeating the Pelicans, the Kings' playoff odds according to FiveThiryEight stand at a whopping 2 percent. Of all the teams still alive in the Western Conference playoff race, only the San Antonio Spurs (1 percent) currently have worse odds.

[RELATED: Kings minority owner Shaq makes virtual cameo during win]

In order to qualify for a playoff spot, Sacramento would at least have to climb to ninth place in the Western Conference standings while remaining within four games of the eighth seed. The Kings currently sit 2.5 games behind the eighth-place Grizzlies, but currently have three other teams situated between them and Memphis.

The Kings dug themselves quite a hole. It's going to be awfully tough to dig themselves out of it.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Bogdan Bogdanovic's career game carries Kings to first NBA bubble win

Bogdan Bogdanovic's career game carries Kings to first NBA bubble win

De’Aaron Fox is becoming a star in the Orlando bubble, but in order for his team to start winning games, someone else had to step up and give him some help. On Thursday, Bogdan Bogdanovic was that player, scoring a career-high 35 points to help the Kings pick up their first win of the seeding tournament.

In a recent recording of the Purple Talk podcast, Fox mentioned his starting backcourt mate and made a statement that may have struck a chord with the Serbian shooter.

“Sometimes, the player that Bogi is, for him to be a team-first guy, is for him to shoot the ball,” Fox said.

There can be an issue with a player being too unselfish. Bogdanovic is a career 37 percent shooter from long range and one of the more versatile scorers on the Kings’ roster, but he rarely looks for his own shot.

He tries to get everyone else involved and then once the game has settled into a rhythm, he looks to get free himself. Fox has struggled with this issue as well, but since the NBA’s restart, he has gone into attack mode.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Bogdanovic followed Fox’s lead Thursday, which led to the 140-125 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

After missing his first 14 shots in the Kings' loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, Bogdanovic looked like a man possessed against New Orleans. He started firing away in the first quarter and by the time the first 12 minutes were up, his shooting hand was smoldering.

“I was just maybe a little bit more mentally locked in,” Bogdanovic said. “Before the game against Dallas, I did all of the same things I did today. I didn’t change my routine at all.”

Bogdanovic lit up New Orleans for 19 first-quarter points. The only shot he missed in the opening period was a 50-footer as time expired.

With Bogdanovic on fire, New Orleans made adjustments and the Kings countered. First, they got Harrison Barnes loose in the post. When the Pelicans shifted defensive stalwart Jrue Holiday over to slow Bogdanovic down, he went to Fox and told him to attack.

“Whenever I was open, I was decisive, I took my shot, I scored, I didn’t miss my first couple of shots,” Bogdanovic said. “And then they started trapping me and I saw a lot of space for the big guys and tell them, ‘Hey, now it’s your time.’ And then I told Fox, ‘Hey, Holiday is on me, he’s stop blocking, he’s not helping, so you have all the space now, it’s your time.’ That’s how he got hot.”

Bogdanovic was a flame thrower and once Fox started attacking, it was lights out. The starting backcourt for the Kings pinned 65 points on the Pelicans in their best-combined scoring output of the season.

“We know we have a lot of guys on this team that can put the ball in the basket,” Fox said. “But when you have guys like that and they care about each other, it makes the game easier for others.”

An experienced European player, Bogdanovic helped play coach on the floor. Playing within a team concept is how he learned the game and he’s doing his best to share as much as he can with his teammates.

[RELATED: Fox's development silver lining to Kings' struggles in restart]

The Kings' road to a playoff spot is narrow to say the least, but they had to have the win over the Pelicans to keep any hope alive.

“You’ve got to step up as a man and play the game,” Bogdanovic said. “That’s what we did.”

The Kings don’t have a lot of time to celebrate the victory. They jump back into the fray Friday morning when they play the Brooklyn Nets in their lone back-to-back of the tournament.

While the Kings likely will scoreboard watch all day to see what happens to teams like the Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers, the focus must remain on the things they can control.

“We can’t worry about anyone by ourselves,” Fox said. “Knowing that we got this win, it throws us right back in contention for one of the last playoff spots.”

The Kings now are halfway through their schedule in the bubble. Following the Nets, they’ll face the Houston Rockets, the Pelicans for a second time and then finish off their seasons against the first-place Los Angeles Lakers.