Bibby discusses the offseason

It has been a relatively calm offseason for the Sacramento Kings, but the same can't be said for their rivals to the south. Sure they lost Vlade Divac, but losing the aging big man certainly won't have the impact that losing the best center of his generation will have on the Lakers. We caught up with former UA great Mike Bibby to see how his summer was going.

While the entire NBA is looking at the Shaquille O'Neal move, Mike Bibby and the Kings aren't obsessing over it. The Kings are looking internally. Although it is obvious that they have to relish the thought of not seeing Shaq in the playoffs, they know they have to take care of their own house if they hope to make the leap to get into the NBA Finals.

"We look to ourselves," Mike Bibby said. "I think we will make some key acquisitions and go from there. I really don't have any say with what goes on with the team, I think we are going to be all right. We always compete, we just have to take it to another level."

The team is just a few seasons removed from game seven of the Western Conference Finals, where poor shooting and a lack of aggressiveness in the final minutes cost them a shot at upending the then defending champions.

Bibby was the lone bright spot in that final game and many thought that the Kings could learn from the loss and make a serious run at the NBA Finals after that.

Sadly for Sacramento fans it didn't happen. Bibby has continued to play at an elite level, but injuries and line-up changes have prevented the Kings from making the leap to the forefront of the Western Conference.

One key for Bibby and the Kings is getting the old Chris Webber back. The past two seasons have seen him saddled with injuries and the threat of legal problems hanging over his head. Now he appears healthy, the problems with his perjury case has been taken care of and the team is ready for "C-Web" to lead them.

"I think even the short time he was there he did good," Bibby said of the half season Webber was able to play last season. "A lot of people were on him, but he was still averaging 20 points. I still think he did what had to do."

This summer Bibby is sponsoring an AAU travel team from his hometown of Phoenix. Whenever he can, Bibby has sat on the sidelines with his charges.

"I'm not really the coach, I just sit on the side and try and help them out," Bibby said. "There may be some things that I see that they don't see. Just give a little input."

Bibby's motivation is to get kids from the Valley of the Sun a shot to get noticed, one that he felt many of his peers did not get.

"I just want to see people from Phoenix do well," Bibby explained. "When I was there they did not get a lot of recognition and they still don't. I'm just trying to get that recognition for them."

Many have pointed that there are a lot of great players in the Phoenix area now. There are more and more D-I players coming out of the area. Bibby does not feel there are more quality players, just more notice being paid. "I think it has been like that, people just didn't recognize it," Bibby said. They are getting some attention, that is the main thing."

While in Las Vegas with his team, Bibby took time out to meet with Lute Olson at one of the gyms during the Nike Main Event tournament. Not only did Bibby get to catch-up with his old head coach, but all of the old assistant coaches he worked with during his brief tenure in Tucson. Jesse Evans and Jay John were around scouting for their new teams, while Rodney Tention was there with Olson to evaluate talent. Even his old teammate Josh Pastner was there. Pastner, who practically served as Bibby personal shot doctor, spent a long time talking with his friend. Even Roy Williams spent some time with the point guard who knocked his top-ranked Jayhawks out of the 1997 NCAA Tournament.

Bibby still has great admiration for his old head coach and his old school.

"The program, they have one of the best programs in the country," Bibby said. "If I didn't go there I think things would have been different. They let you play how you want to play. They play to your strengths and that's why I am at where I am today."

Bibby may have only spent two years at Arizona, but has a great bond with some of his former teammates. "I talk to Jason Terry here and there, me and ‘Mike D' (Michael Dickerson) still talk a lot," Bibby said. "I really don't see much of the other guys."

Another player that Bibby talks with a lot was never a teammate of his. Despite never sharing the McKale Center court, Bibby and fellow Phoenician Richard Jefferson have a tight bond.

"I see Richard all the time," Bibby said. "He comes to the gym that we play at. Richard grew up beneath me. I was telling him, ‘young fella you watched me growing up.' We hang out."

As for other Arizona alums Bibby will socialize with them before a game, but doesn't exactly open up his home to them.

"I talk to them, we don't go out to dinner or anything, but we talk and stuff like that," Bibby said. "Everybody knows what school you went to. You just tell them ‘what's up' and go from there."

Things are interesting for Bibby and the Kings. They have let three free agents walk and have a few others who have not signed. They have the core of the team in place, but still have a few moves left before the season starts. The good news for Sacramento is that Shaw is gone and the Lakers look to be diminished. The bad news is that the rest of the West is stocked.

The Kings have a legitimate shot, especially with Bibby running the show.


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