His drug advice to children aside, Pollard was worth more than just his six fouls against Shaq in the paint. He first impressed me during a then-rare start for the injured Chris Webber in 2001, when registered a career-high 22 points in a nationally-televised game. While it didn't always show up in the boxscore, "The Butcher," a moniker he earned for his hacking on defense, mainly contributed through hustle, dedication, and well, goofiness. Pollard had me rolling with his legendary hairstyle and beard combinations, terrible Harry Caray impressions, and a penchant for ripping on his teammates. He certainly wasn't shy about outing Vlade Divac the smelliest player in the locker room, or making fun of Stojakovic's ultra-tight jeans.
When Bobby Jackson joined the team in 2000, he emerged as one of the best reserves in the entire league, even landing a Sports Illustrated cover that still sits in one of my desk drawers. Hedo Turkoglu — whose name once led one of my friends to ponder if all people from Turkey were required to have the country in their last names — and Keon "Not a Game Sober" Clark, who just narrowly edges out Mikki Moore for the skinniest legs in NBA history, led the last true Bench Mob in 2003. In the years that followed, the Kings were forced into using shorter rotations to mask their sudden lack of depth.
Jon Barry was the first to go in 2001, when he was shipped to Detroit in exchange for Mateen Cleaves, who served as Sacramento's highest paid cheerleader and became most renowned for his atrocious fashion sense. I was even more distraught when Sacramento traded Pollard and Turkgolu in exchange for Brad Miller. While he was unquestionably more offensively-polished than Pollard, he never cared to do all of the little things (unless we're talking joints). His mini-resurrection last season aside, Miller's numbers steadily declined while his bloated contract made him almost impossible to trade. Combined with the loss of Turkoglu's scoring punch, the Kings essentially gave up their identity in lure of the bigger name. They became the 2002 New York Yankees.
But the most egregious and inexcusable mistake came courtesy of one of the more seldom used Bench Mobbers. Every NBA team was allowed to keep up to eight players during the Charlotte Bobcats' expansion draft prior to the 2004/05 season. Despite the fact that the Bobcats had a reduced salary cap structure and couldn't afford to take on any big contracts, the Kings elected to protect the likes of Chris Webber ($16 million), Mike Bibby ($9.5 million), and Doug Christie ($6.5 million) over Gerald Wallace, who was earning a paltry 800 grand on his rookie contract, because they were afraid of bruising a few big egos. While Sacramento was coming off a 55-win season, and Wallace played sparingly in his first three years, but the talent had always been there.