In the late 90s, the Sacramento Kings were one of the most talent-stacked teams in the league, with Jason Williams, a.k.a. "White Chocolate," as their starting point guard.
Fans were dazzled by Williams' flashy streetball playing style, which quickly gelled with Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Peja Stojakovic, and Corliss Williamson. However, when Williams got traded to the Memphis Grizzlies via a multi-player deal that included Mike Bibby, teams began taking the Kings more seriously.
With Bibby as the floor general, Sac town ultimately became championship contenders.
Rivalry with the Lakers and friendship with Kobe
Bibby made his mark on Sacramento, having played for the team for six and a half seasons. He was one of the key players of the Kings team that rivaled the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2002 NBA Playoffs, the thrilling seven-game Western Conference series that was decided by Robert Horry's historic buzzer-beater.
As expected, the Kings faithful viewed the Lakers as the culprit in Sacramento's failed championship run. Despite the rivalry, and some may not know, Bibby and then-LA superstar Kobe Bryant remained tight, having been friends for quite some time.
The Kings never had another clear shot at the NBA Finals since then, and fast-track to 2007, Bibby's time with Sacramento finally ended.
Bibby verbally became a Laker
As the season edged closer to the trade deadline in 2007, talks of Bibby getting traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers were hot. At the time, Bibby was hoping to join a championship contender group, and LeBron James and the Cavs made total sense. However, he was eventually told that "the trade didn't go through."
With the Cavs already out of the picture, Bibby found a glimmer of hope as the Lakers were somehow in the mix. Bibby reached out to his pal Kobe via phone, having felt he was one step closer to becoming a Laker. Sadly, the deal fell off because, "understandably," the Kings did not want to bolster the Lakers' squad.
"At first, it was supposed to be the Lakers," Bibby told Sports Illustrated's FanSided. "I called and talked to Kobe, and we were trying to get it done. But I don't think the Maloofs wanted to send me to the Lakers. So that fell through."
After just one day, at last, Bibby got traded, but it was to a team that has not been viewed as contenders for years- the Atlanta Hawks.
"So a day passes, and one of my friends tells me I just got traded to the Hawks."
In the 2010/11 season, Bibby's dream finally came true as he wound up joining LeBron in Miami. That year, he made it to the NBA Finals, but the experienced Dallas Mavericks squad proved to be too much for the Heat.
Looking back, Bibby may have never signed with a championship team at the right time, but he always competed like a real champion in every team he played for in his NBA career.