Tiny, Lacey, Wedman head up Kings Hall of Fame

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FEBRUARY 2015 – Last month I had the privilege to attend a Clippers game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles when I realized I had not been to an NBA game since I was graduated from high school in 1985.

During the game, I conversed with friends about some of the great Kings players that played in Kansas City between 1972 and 1985. These giants raced up and down Municipal Auditorium and Kemper Arena during my childhood, but are slowly becoming forgotten heroes in the Midwest.

With that being said, I decided to look back and generate a Hall of Fame roster of players and personnel who were Kings of the court in Kansas City.

Our first coach was NBA Hall Of Famer Bob Cousy, but he does not qualify in Kansas City with a 42- 62 record during his short term. He   was fired after a 6-16 start in 1973 and never coached again.

Leading the way as the only coach in our Hall is the late Cotton Fitzsimmons, who led us to our best season of 48-34 in his first year during the 1978-79 season and four out of five seasons the KC Kings ever reached the playoffs.

He was named NBA coach of the year in 1979 after guiding the Kings to the division title. Cotton’s overall record with the KCK 248-244 and he belongs on our Hall. He is also a member of the Missouri Sports Hall Of Fame.

Phil Johnson guided the Kings to their only other playoff berth in 1975 and was named the NBA coach of the year, but Fizsimmons is a no-brainer for the Kings’ Hall of Fame coach.

The most obvious player to have a plaque is Nate “Tiny” Archibald who is the only member of the Kings to be in the NBA Hall OF Fame. Coming over from the Cincinnati Royals to the then Kansas City-Omaha Kings, Archibald was named the NBA MVP as he led the league in assists and scoring. He set a record by averaging 34.0 points per game as well as most assists in a season with 910 in 1972-73

Tiny was also named to the NBA’s 50th anniversary team in 1996. He’s an obvious pick – but what other Kansas City Kings should be along side him?

Drafted fifth overall by Cincinnati in 1970, Sam Lacey went on to have a very productive career as a center for the Royals and the Kings. He is one of five NBA players to have 100 blocks and 100 steals in 6 consecutive seasons and well as accumulating more than 10,000 points. Ranked 40th all-time in rebounds, Lacey was a big part of the Kings winning formula during their successful years.

Phil Ford made a quick impact in the 1978-79 season as NBA Rookie Of The Year averaging nearly 16 points a game. His four-year stint is enough for me to be in our Kings’ Hall.

Other greats I would have plaques on the wall would be Otis Birdsong and Scott Wedman. Birdsong, a three-time all-star, averaged more the 20 points per game in his four seasons as a King. Wedman, who was an all-star selection twice, nailed shots from corners at Kemper for more than six seasons, always averaging double digits. Scotty was another important piece of the puzzle as a member of the Kings.

Eddie Johnson, who quietly averaged more than 20 points per game the last three years of the Kings’ existence of the KC Kings organization, would also be enshrined. Johnson holds the distinction of scoring the most points in the NBA without playing in an All-Star Game.

One final addition to be enshrined would be guard Larry Drew, a Wyandotte High grad and Missouri alumnus who also played well during the Kings final years in Kansas City.

Just missing the cut would be Reggie Theus, since he only played a year and a half in KC before moving on to Sacramento for the 85-86 season. Theus had a solid career — but not enough Kansas City time to be in the Hall.

Also narrowly missing the Hall final ballot would be Mike Woodson, who averaged 16.1, 18.2 points, 14.5 points and 17 points in the final four years of the Kings in Kansas City, Woodson also coached several years in the NBA.

My honorable mention would be Bonner Springs great Eddie Nealy. Ed, a 1979 eight-round pick (the NBA draft has only two rounds now) out of Kansas State, averaged 2.7 points and 3.3 rebounds a game in 10 NBA seasons and was fitted for rings with his time with the Chicago Bulls.

If I had the option – and I do since it is my Hall — I would place the above stars in Nealy Hall. He hustled his way for three seasons in KC; and I would honor his style of play by naming the Kansas City Kings Shrine after him.

Did I miss anyone? Let me know! There are studs and snubs everywhere.

Article by James “JP” Peuster. Contact “JP” at www.jpegsports.com. JPEG Sports 24/7 at can be heard at www.jpeg247.com and as a part of the Good Sports Radio show heard 8-9 a.m. Saturdays on ESPN 1510 AM.

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