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Founded in 1923, the Sacramento Kings have traded cities and team names along the way to their current home in the capital of California. The sole championship for this club came all the way back in 1951 when they were known as the Rochester Royals. Leaving upstate New York for Cincinnati and then Kansas City-Omaha before settling in Sacramento, there is a lot of basketball history associated with this organization.
Joining the professional ranks in 1948, they were absorbed into the NBA the next year. Just a few seasons later the club found themselves at the top of the league, beating the New York Knicks in seven games to become NBA Champions. However, despite the success on the court, the franchise had trouble earning a profit and left for greener pastures.
In Cincinnati, the team saw a small drop off in production before the drafting of Oscar Robertson. By 1963, with the help of Jerry Lucas, the Royals were one of the best teams in the league. This tandem led the team and the league in some categories, but they were unable to bring home a title. Nate Archibald led the way through the first half of the 1970s, but the Kings (as they were renamed in 1972) could not forge a path to the postseason until 1975. Abruptly eliminated in the first round, they would not be back in the tournament until 1979, led by Otis Birdsong.
By 1981, the team had reached the Western Conference Finals, but met up with an overpowering Houston Rockets team and lost in five games. This signified a turning point for the franchise who would only make the playoffs three more times between 1981 and 1998. By this time, they were the Sacramento Kings, having moved to California in 1985. A black cloud seemed to hang over the team with bad luck surrounding talented players such as Bobby Hurley, Rick Berry, and Pervis Ellison. Lionel “L-Train” Simmons and Mitch Redmond were both brought in to try to right the ship.
The end of the 90s saw the team come back from mediocrity with the acquisition of Jason Williams via the draft along with picking up veterans Vlade Divac, Peja Stojakovic, and Chris Webber. Under head coach Rick Adelman, this group coalesced quickly and by 2002 the Kings were not only division winners, but conference winners that came one game from the NBA Finals (losing in seven games to the eventual champions Los Angeles Lakers with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal).
By the mid-2000s, the great run was over and Sacramento dropped into a playoff drought. Kings fans have not seen their beloved team achieve a winning record since 2006, the last year that they made the playoffs. While the 2018-2019 season was a 12 game improvement over the year before, it was not enough to break through. Hopes for this clubbed are pinned to 2018 second overall NBA Draft pick Marvin Bagley III. He is surrounded by talent in Harrison Barnes, De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Nemanja Bjelica, and Willie Cauley-Stein. Moving over from LA, former Lakers player and Coach Luke Walton will take over the coaching responsibilities in Sacramento. This is one team that will be interesting to watch in 2019-2020.
This long-running organization has employed a wealth of talent through the years. Perhaps there are no players more talented or more beloved by Kings fans than Oscar Robertson, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Mitch Richmond, Nate Archibald, DeMarcus Cousins, Mike Bibby, Jason Williams, Vlade Divac, and Jerry Lucas. Additional information about this incredible franchise can be obtained by clicking here.