Sacramento has "Bibby-mania"

I recently attended a wedding in Sacramento and confirmed my suspicions. The denizens of California's capital have "Bibby-mania". The already rabid Kings fans are already in love with their team, but the emergence of Mike Bibby has inspired even more devotion for the purple and black.

Even a few weeks after the heartbreaking game seven loss to the Lakers, the people of Sacramento are still in love with their team. The "go Kings" banners, signs and billboards are still as prevalent as they were during the series. The fans are sad, but proud.

It didn't take long for me to run into a Bibby fan. My journey had hardly begun, in fact I was at the Phoenix airport when I noticed a Kings fan. You couldn't miss him. In addition to the spiky hair and big, silver hoop earrings in each lobe, Mike wore a bright purple kings T-shirt and long, baggy, white Kings game shorts.

We quickly struck up a conversation.

"Bibby is the reason we got that far," Mike said. "If we still had Jason Williams we couldn't have gotten past Dallas."

The scene was even crazier in Sacramento. I couldn't find a single Bibby jersey in the city. Even in the outlying areas like Folsom and Woodland, Bibby jerseys were scarce items.

"We can't keep them on the shelf," said Todd Mason, an employee at one sporting goods store. "They sold okay during the season, but since the playoffs they are our top seller. They are even more popular than the Webber jerseys."

People all over town were singing his praises.

"I loved him at Arizona," said Julie Bedell, 28, an Arizona alum. "I think he is even better here."

"Everyone at work loves him," said Peter Bedell, 29, also an Arizona grad. "When everyone found out I was at the UofA at the same time they were impressed. They don't realize there are 35,000 students at Arizona. They think we were friends or something."

Even Sun Devil fans have embraced the former Wildcat.

"He's the only good thing from Arizona," said Philip Smythe, 40, an ASU grad. "I take that back, my brother went there. I guess two good things came from Arizona. Bibby is great. He may be my favorite player."

Other fans may not know where he played but they know who Bibby is.

"I used to love Jason Williams," said Megan Guest, 19, a student from the Sacramento area. "I didn't like him at first, but now I think he's the best on the team. He was the only player who could make shots in game seven."

Her sister had an even more insightful view of the former Wildcat playmaker.

"It seemed like he was the only player who wanted the ball at the end of games," said Amy Guest. "He was so good at the end. Too bad Predrag (Stojakovic) and Doug Christie didn't want to shoot."

The fact that Bibby is a free agent worries the loyal Kings fans.

"We need to sign him," said Dave Hosier. "He seems to like it here and the Maloof brothers will do what it takes. But you never know when so much money is involved."

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