(Note: With the Sacramento Kings having one foot out of the door of Sacramento and to Anaheim and with the season and the team's tenure running out I'm going to write a series of retrospective posts on the Kings tenure in Sacramento. If you wish to follow the on-going battle to fight this move, please read SacTown Royalty)
You cannot talk about the Sacramento Kings history without remembering the bench mob. The Kings bench mob exemplified the love the Sacramento fans had for this team*. A bunch of nobodies playing 15 minutes a game was loved and adored by the fans because of their heart and hustle. But who exactly were these guys, and why were they so important to the Kings and why were they loved so much?
The bench mob's origins can be traced back to the lockout shortened 1999 season. Jon Barry had already been with the Kings for a year along with Peja Stojakovic and Lawrence Funderburke. During that offseason the Kings added Darrick Martin, Scott Pollard, Tony Delk, and Tyrone Corbin to complete the reserves for the Kings. In essence, one of the deepest benches in the league resided in Sacramento.
Sure different guys would go on to become members of the bench mob. Bobby Jackson even won a 6th Man of the Year award for being the best reserve in the league. The 99 group though was the original bench mob though. They not only ignited scoring frenzies, but they ignited the crowd.
Supposedly "The Bench Mob" name was created by both Martin and Barry because each member of the bench brought something different to the table for the Kings. There was no doubt about it, Barry was the leader of the group.
Each member brought their own eccentricity to the bench. Pollard was known for his outlandish hairdos and facial hair. Martin could be a microwave scorer. In fact he once scored 11 points in two minutes off the bench in a game with the Kings. Funderburke gave the Kings toughness. Peja would eventually become a starter but started his career with the Kings on the bench backing up Corliss Williamson. Tony Delk and Tyrone Corbin brought defensive toughness for this team and off the bench.
The way the crowd would light up though when one of the members would come off the bench was something to see. It's like watching that clip of Ed O'Sullivan introducing The Beatles to America for the first time, the crowd just went wild. Barry would lift his arms and the crowd would become even louder. The fans just loved this group. We connected to them in a special place. Every time either Barry or Pollard would dive for a loose ball or grab a rebound or hit a 3-pointer the crowd noise would become even louder.
We loved this crew because we felt like they were the ones truly representing Sacramento. They were the blue collar workers going to work on the farm from sunrise to sunset. They earned every cent they made and then some. We loved them for this quality. We loved Pollard for his hairdos and facial hair.
The bench mob evolved over the years. Peja eventually became a starter. Barry, Delk, Corbin, and Martin left via free agency. New players were brought in through free agency and the draft like Bobby Jackson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Gerald Wallace. Jackson even won the Sixth Man of the Year backing up Mike Bibby.
The bench mob though was eventually torn apart for good. The Charlotte Bobcats selected Wallace in the expansion draft. Turkoglu and Pollard were traded for Brad Miller. They will live on forever though. The bench mob was as huge part of the Kings as Chris Webber and Mitch Richmond.
*For further reading on the bench mob, read this piece by Marty McNeal from the Sporting News.