Known for his toughness and consistency, Mitch “Rock” Richmond graces this equally as solid Sacramento Kings jersey. Not only does this jersey hail from the 50th anniversary 96-97 season, but it also has purple and white checkers running down the sides. Better yet, approximately one third of the jersey’s purple on the front and back is replaced with black, and for no discernible reason other than for my own personal amusement. While it’s a shame that The Rock never won much in Sac-town, at least he gained a dope jersey collection. I’m a sucker for deep purple and cobalt blue–the main colors on the Kings’ jerseys during Richmond’s years–and if Mitch is anything like me (which I’m sure he is), then his accretion of jerseys in Cali’s Cap City was a remedy for the constant losing he suffered in Sacramento. Luckily, Mitch got his wish and was traded to a stable and winning franchise: The Washington Wizards.
While the Kings faltered for years following their new single-skilled acquisition (Chris Webber), The Rock transitioned from the “Karl Malone of shooting guards” into Karl Malone reincarnate, and in the course of doing so, the Wizards underwent an equally as brilliant metamorphosis. The Wiz now had a three-headed point guard attack (Rod Strickland, Chris Whitney, Jeff McInnis), dead-eye shooters (Mitch Richmond, Tracy Murray, Tim Legler), versatile forwards (Juwan Howard, Calbert Cheaney), and hard-nosed centers (Ben Wallace, Otis Thorpe, Jahidi White). The Wizards were a complete team from top to bottom. Mitch upgraded himself to Karl Malone, from Cali’s Capital to the Nation’s Capital, and from perennial loser to unstoppable winner. With the lockout shortened 98-99 season, in which Mitch won MVP, the Wizards sneaked into the Finals, where their toughness, leadership, and shooting allowed them to overcome the Twin Towers and the the San Antonio Spurs. This was the first of four consecutive championships and MVPs for someone now known for his consistency in the context of something that mattered–winning. The Wizards’ winning formula took down the Blazers (99-00), Lakers (00-01), and Jazz (01-02), the last of which was funny because Mitch shared the court with his new doppelganger, Karl Malone. True story.
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