The Sacramento Kings’ journey has taken them across the continental United States, beginning in Rochester, New York as the Rochester Royals. Since 1957, they have moved to Cincinnati and Kansas City before settling in Sacramento in 1985. They play their home games at the ARCO Arena. Their general manager is former NBA player Geoff Petrie, and their head coach is former player Reggie Theus.
During the team’s time in Rochester, one of the their best players was forward Maurice Stokes. He was NBA Rookie of the Year in 1956, and was considered one of the league’s most promising young players.
In 1958, Stokes hit his head on the floor during a game and was knocked unconscious. He later fell into a coma, suffering a brain injury from which he would never fully recover. The paralyzed Stokes was cared for, in part, by his friend and teammate Jack Wyman. Stokes died in 1970 at the age of 36.
The Cincinnati Years
The Rochester Royals (who won the 1950-51 NBA title) moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1957. During their 15 seasons in Cincinnati, they made the playoffs seven times. Their best players were Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas. Robertson is considered by some to be the greatest point guard of all time. He once averaged a triple-double for an entire season.
Despite Robertson’s success, the team never got far in the playoffs, and after a five-season stretch without a postseason berth, the Royals underwent a move — and a name change — in 1972.
The Kansas City/Omaha Kings
When the Kings first moved to Kansas City, the team split their home games between Kansas City and Omaha, Neb., hence the name Kansas City/Omaha Kings. They stopped playing in Omaha in 1975.
During their time in Kansas City, their best player was point guard Nate “Tiny” Archibald. An adept scorer and passer, Archibald once led the NBA in scoring and assists for a season.
The Kings enjoyed moderate success in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but as their fortunes took a downturn, so did their attendance, and in 1985 the team moved to Sacramento, Calif.
In the early part of the 21st century, the Sacramento Kings were legitimate NBA title contenders. They were led by Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, Vlade Divac and defensive stalwart Doug Christie. From 2001 to 2004, the Kings posted win totals of 55, 61, 59, and 55 games. They went through some epic battles with the Los Angeles Lakers, who were then led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
In the 2001-02 playoffs, the Kings faced the two-time defending champion Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. They got out to a 3-2 series lead before losing the final two games. The Lakers went on to win a third title. The Kings would never advance as far in the playoffs.
The 2007-08 season was a rough one for the Kings. Ron Artest, who was acquired in 2005-06, was unable to lead the team to the playoffs as they finished with a 38-44 regular season record. In January they traded Mike Bibby to the Atlanta Hawks. In July they traded Artest to Houston.
With so many tough teams in the Western Conference, and new players being integrated into the team, the Sacramento Kings have their work cut out for them this season. They are a long shot for a playoff berth.
Nate Archibald, Bob Davies, Jerry Lucas, Mitch Richmond, Oscar Robertson, Maurice Stokes, Chris Webber