While watching the Kings lose in Oklahoma City earlier tonight, and counting John Salmons' impressive assist total (11), I couldn't help but think about another wiry, versatile 6-foot-6, 6-foot-7 former Kings swingman. It probably helped that Doug Christie attended Chris Webber's jersey retirement ceremony Friday night at Arco Arena. Someone who watched the halftime ceremonies on television asked me why Doug seemed to avoid making eye contact when he addressed the crowd. Because he was afraid he would start crying? Absolutely. Christie was always his own person - and unfazed by the constant chatter about his, um, unusually close relationship with his wife, Jackie - and when he talked to you, he unfailingly made eye contact. He never hid from anything. He was ... who he was. How many other NBA players, for example, would have admitted "choking" in a big game, which Doug did after hoisting airballs in Game 7 of the 2002 conference finals with the Lakers?
But back to Salmons. And how much I appreciated Christie's all-court game, and especially his willingness as a passer. During the Kings' run earlier this decade, the Seattle native was the primary ballhandler, the best defender and as selfless as Vlade Divac. His only agenda was winning. I always thought he would be an excellent coach, partly because so much of coaching is teaching, and Doug has a way of explaining things in a very succinct manner. Interestingly, when I asked him the other night about his future plans, he said he is homeschooling his kids in Seattle, but has started thinking about pursuing a coaching job either in colleges or as an NBA assistant.
Like I said. I'm biased. His influence on Sacramento's most successful teams was subtle and essential, and I enjoyed watching him play immensely.