|For current information on this topic, see 2009–10 Sacramento Kings season.|
|Founded||1945 (Joined NBA In 1948)|
Kansas City-Omaha Kings
Kansas City Kings
|Team colors||Purple, Black, Silver, White,
|Owner(s)||The Maloof family
Robin E. Hernreich
|General manager||Geoff Petrie|
|Head coach||Paul Westphal|
|D-League affiliate||Reno Bighorns|
|Championships||1 NBL: 1 1946
NBA: 1 (1951)
|Conference titles||1 (1951)|
|Division titles||NBL: 2 (1947, 1948)
NBA: 5 (1949, 1952, 1979, 2002, 2003)
In the early 1920s, the team was a semi-pro group sponsored by a local Seagram's distillery. The team was known as the Rochester Seagrams for over two decades. Pro basketball 1920-1940 folded many a strictly pro operation, but the sponsored Seagrams stayed afloat as others fell by the wayside during the Great Depression. Under the watch of Hall Of Famer Les Harrison, the team grew in talent, hosted increasingly better competition, and became a greater local treasure as years went by.
At the conclusion of World War II, the National Basketball League, was returning to success after waiting out the War Years. They were looking to add successful operations to their circuit and Rochester was a natural candidate. The team had changed its name to the Rochester Pros, and moved to the 4500-seat Edgarton Sports Arena in 1942. Invited to join the NBL for the 1945–46 season, Les Harrison and brother Jack parted ways with sponsor Seagram's, who doubted the team would profit from the jump. The team then held a rename-the-team contest in Rochester's largest newspaper. The winner was 15-year old Richard Paeth for his entry, the "Royals."
Success for the Royals was almost immediate. Founded in 1945 by owner/coach/general manager Les Harrison (Hall of Famer) and his brother and co-owner/business manager Jack Harrison, the team won the NBL championship in 1945–46, its very first year in the circuit. The team was led by Bob Davies, Al Cervi, George Glamack, and Otto Graham, a future NFL Hall of Famer, who, in his only season in professional basketball, won a league championship before moving on to football and leading the Cleveland Browns to ten straight championship games, winning seven. Additionally, the Royals had doubled the original investment of the Harrisons in just one season. Playing numerous exhibitions in addition to the NBL schedule, the team was arguably at its Rochester peak in 1946.
The following season, NBL Governors voted that the regular season "Pennant Winner" would be declared as the official NBL Champion, and the post-season would consist of a separate, non-championship tournament. The Royals finished 31–13 (.705), capturing their second NBL Championship in as many years, but lost in the post-season tournament finals to George Mikan and the Chicago American Gears.
The following season the NBL scrapped their one-year "pennant" experiment, and from that point forward the post-season playoffs would determine the NBL Champion. The Royals again finished with the league's best overall record at 44–16, but lost to George Mikan's new team, the Minneapolis Lakers, 3 games to 1 in the NBL Finals.
The countless exhibitions, plus the season schedules, had worn the team down by 1948, with injuries figuring in the 1947 and 1948 NBL Finals. The team added Bobby Wanzer, a Seton Hall recruit made by Davies, to replace Cervi, among other roster moves. The team's strong reputation also soon made them part of the NBL - BAA merger.
In 1948, the Royals moved to the Basketball Association of America along with the Fort Wayne Pistons, Minneapolis Lakers, and Indianapolis (Kautskys) Jets. A year later, the BAA merged with the remaining NBL teams to become the National Basketball Association.
The move to the BAA took away Rochester's profitable exhibition schedule, and placed them in the same Western Division that Minneapolis was in. The two best teams in pro basketball, only one of them could play in the league Finals, 1949-1954. Minneapolis, with Mikan, was almost always a little better at playoff time than the Royals. With their smallish arena and now-limited schedule, the Royals became less profitable even as Harrison maintained a remarkably high standard for the team, which finished no lower than second in its division, 1945-1954. He would spend much of the 1950s looking for a buyer for his team as debts mounted.
The Royals won the NBA title in 1951 by defeating the New York Knickerbockers 4 games to 3. It is the only NBA championship in the franchise's history to date. But the victory did not translate into profit for the franchise. The roster completely turned over in 1955, with only Wanzer remaining, and moved to the larger Rochester Memorial. Now a losing team filled with rookies, the Royals still did not turn a profit. Meanwhile the NBA was putting pressure on Harrison to sell or relocate his team to a larger city. With this in mind, the 1956-57 season was their last in Rochester.
The Royals' twelve-year stay in Rochester featured the services of nine future members of the Basketball Hall of Fame, one member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and a Hollywood Walk of Famer: Al Cervi, Bob Davies, Alex Hannum, Les Harrison, Red Holzman, Arnie Risen, Maurice Stokes, Jack Twyman, Bobby Wanzer, Otto Graham, and Chuck Connors.
In April 1957, the Royals were moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, by the Harrison brothers. This move followed well-received 2/01/1957 regular season game played at Cincinnati Gardens. The change of venue had been said to have been suggested by Jack Twyman and Dave Piontek, who were two of several roster players on the new Royals from that region. Cincinnati, which had a strong college basketball fan base and no NFL franchise to compete with, was deemed the best choice for the Harrisons.
During the team's first NBA draft in Cincinnati, the team acquired Clyde Lovellette and guard George King. They teammed with the 1-2 punch of Maurice Stokes and Twyman to produce a budding contender in the team's very first season in the Queen City. Injury to Marshall and the loss of star guard Si Green to military service dropped the team into a tie for second place in the NBA Western Division during the 1957–58 season's second half.
In the season's finale, All-Pro star Maurice Stokes struck his head when he fell after pursuing a rebound. He shook off the effects of the fall, even as he had briefly been unconscious. After Game One in the playoffs three days later, Stokes head injury was greatly aggravated by airplane cabin pressure during the flight back to Cincinnati for Game Two. He suffered a seizure and was permanently hospitalized, a tragedy that greatly shook the team. Stokes, a tremendous talent who could play center, forward and guard, was 2nd in the NBA in rebounds and 3rd in assists, a double-feat only Wilt Chamberlain has matched for a full season. Without Stokes, the team nearly folded.
Fellow All-Star Twyman rose to All-Pro level the next two seasons for Cincinnati, even as the team posted two 19-win seasons. The 1958–59 Cincinnati team featured five rookies, with Lovellette, King and other key players having left the team in the wake of Stokes' tragic injury. The Harrisons, under pressure to sell to a local group, sold to a local ownership headed by Thomas Woods. The fact that Stokes was simply dumped by the team and the new ownership infuriated many.
Jack Twyman came to aid of his teammate and even legally adopted Stokes. Raising funds for Stokes' medical treatment, Twyman helped his fallen teammate until his death in April, 1970. The 1973 feature film Maurie, which co-starred actors Bernie Casey and Bo Svenson, later dramatized their story.
Shooting often for the beleaguered team, Twyman was the second NBA player ever to average 30 points per game for a full NBA season. Both Twyman and Stokes were later named Hall of Famers.
In 1960, the team was able to land local superstar Oscar Robertson. Robertson led a team that included Twyman, Wayne Embry, Bob Boozer, Bucky Bockhorn, Tom Hawkins and Adrian Smith over the next three seasons. The Royals reversed their fortunes with Robertson and rose to title contender. An ownership dispute in early 1963 scuttled the team's playoff chances when new owner Louis Jacobs booked a circus for Cincinnati Gardens for the week of the playoff series versus the champion Boston Celtics. Jacobs, an aloof owner, would prove no ally to the team's title hopes.
In late 1963, another local superstar, Jerry Lucas, joined the team. The Royals rose to second-best record in the NBA. From 1963–66, the Royals contended strongly against Boston and the Philadelphia 76ers, but fell short of their title hopes. The team's star players throughout the 1960s were Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas. Robertson met with individual success, averaging a triple-double in 1961–62 and winning the Most Valuable Player award in 1964. Robertson was a league-leading scorer and passer each season. Lucas was Rookie Of the Year in 1964, led the league in shooting, and later averaged 20 rebounds per game over three seasons. Both were All-NBA First Team selections multiple times.
The Royals were an also-ran throughout the era anyway. The team failed to keep promising players and played in the tough NBA East division, dominated by the Boston Celtics, even as a Baltimore team played in the West Division for three years, denying the team likely visits to the NBA Finals.
In 1966, the team was sold to a pair of brothers named Max and Jeremy Jacobs. That same season, the Royals began playing some of their home games in neutral sites such as Cleveland (until the Cavaliers began play in 1970), Dayton & Columbus, which was the norm for the rest of the Royals tenure in the Queen City.
New coach Bob Cousy, a loyal Boston Celtic, traded Lucas in 1969. Robertson was traded to Milwaukee in 1970, where he would immediately win an NBA title. The declining franchise left Cincinnati shortly thereafter, moving to Kansas City in 1972.
The Royals were renamed the Kings because Kansas City already had the Royals baseball team. The basketball team agreed to change its nickname, even though it had used the name for 25 years before the baseball team was established. The team initially divided its home games between Kansas City and Omaha until 1975, when it abandoned the Omaha market. During that time the team was officially called the "Kansas City-Omaha Kings". The team netted a new superstar in Nate Archibald, who led the league in scoring and assists.
While still in Cincinnati, the Kings introduced a most unusual uniform design, which placed the player's surname below his number. The design remained intact through the first several seasons of the team's run in Sacramento, even when the shade of blue on the road uniforms was changed from royal blue to powder blue, and the script "Kansas City" which adorned the road jerseys was scrubbed after the move in favor of a repeat of the "Kings" script on the home shirts.
The Kings had some decent players throughout. Tom Van Arsdale, the shooting forward, "Jumpin" Johnny Green, and Matt Guokas helped Archibald in the first year in Kansas City. Players such as Matthew Stedman and Nick Arnott were prolific dunk artists and Toby Kimball was a fan favorite. Jimmy Walker teamed with Archibald as the Kings made the playoffs the second year. Sam Lacey, an effective passing center, became one of the most dependable players in the league. Archibald became the first player to lead the league in scoring and assists in the first season in Kansas City. However, the management traded Archibald, and wasted high draft picks. Bob Cousy gave way to Phil Johnson, who was fired midyear in 1977 and replaced by Larry Staverman, a player on the team on two separate occasions when it was in Cincinnati and who later became the Cleveland Indians groundskeeper.
The Kings finally achieved some success in their new home when they hired Cotton Fitzsimmons as coach. Coach Fitzsimmons won the Midwest Division in 1978–79 with rookie point guard Phil Ford. Kansas City was led by shooting guard Otis Birdsong, strong on both offense and defense, all around shooting forward Scott Wedman, and passing center Sam Lacey, who had a trademark 25 foot bank shot. They also drew an average of 10,789 fans to Kemper Arena that season, the only time during their tenure in KC that average attendance was in five figures. The Kings made the playoffs in 1979–80 and again in 1980–81, despite finishing the regular season at 40–42. The Kings made a surprise run in the NBA Playoffs, reaching the Western Conference Finals. Big Ernie Grunfeld played the point in this run, as KC used a slow half court game to win the first two rounds. Power forward Reggie King had a remarkable series, dominating the opposition.
However, a series of bad luck incidents prevented the team from building on its success. Ted Stepien, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers lured Wedman and Birdsong away with big contract offers, the roof literally fell in at Kemper Arena because of a severe storm, forcing the team to play most of the 1979–80 season at Municipal Auditorium, and the ownership group sold the team to Sacramento interests for just eleven million dollars. The general manager was fired in a bizarre scandal in which he was found to be reusing marked postage stamps. When the Kings rehired Joe Axelson as general manager, they brought back the man who had previously traded superstars Oscar Robertson, Norm Van Lier, Nate Archibald and Jerry Lucas, and used the third pick in the ABA dispersal draft on Ron Boone. Axelson would stay on after the Kings left Kansas City where, in their last game ever, fans wore Joe Axelson masks. Axelson later would say he hoped his plane would never touch down in Kansas City.
Axelson later would be the first general manager in the history of sports to fail with the same franchise in four different cities: Cincinnati, Kansas City, Omaha and Sacramento. He would not be fired for good until he rehired as coach Phil Johnson, whom he had fired in midseason in Kansas City ten years before. The Kings also had the misfortune of entering this period competing with the Kansas City Comets for the winter sports dollar, when the Comets were led by marketers—the Leiweke brothers. Their final season, 1984–85, resulted in a dismal 31–51 record as fans stayed away from Kemper Arena in droves, with average attendance of just 6,410. The most notable moment of this season lives in infamy, when New York Knicks standout Bernard King suffered a devastating knee injury on March 23. The writing was on the wall for Kansas City.
The Kings moved to their current home of Sacramento, California in the 1985–86 NBA season, with their first Sacramento season ending in the first round of the Western Conference 1986 NBA Playoffs. However, they saw little success in subsequent years, and the team did not make the playoffs again until the 1996 NBA Playoffs in the 1995–96 NBA season. Some of their failure was attributable to misfortunes such as the career-altering car crash suffered by promising point guard Bobby Hurley and the suicide of Ricky Berry; some was attributed to poor management such as the long tenure of head coach Garry St. Jean and the selection of "Never Nervous" Pervis Ellison with the first overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft. Current Kings television broadcaster Jerry Reynolds and NBA legend Bill Russell were among the early coaching staff.
The early 1990s were difficult for the Kings. Sacramento was known for having strong fan support, and while they won over 60% of their home games, the team struggled on the road, going 1–40 on the road in a single season. The Kings made the playoffs in 1996 largely due to the efforts of star player Mitch Richmond but they did not see postseason success. The team was eventually sold to the Maloof Family, who finally changed the direction of the team.
The Kings began to emerge from mediocrity with the draft selection of Jason Williams, the signing of Vlade Divac, and the trade of Mitch Richmond for Chris Webber prior to the lockout-shortened 1998–99 season. These acquisitions coincided with the arrival of Peja Stojakovic, who had been drafted in 1996. Each of these moves was attributed to general manager Geoff Petrie, who has won NBA Executive of the Year twice. Following these acquisitions, the Kings improved and became perennial playoff contenders. Led by new head coach Rick Adelman, and aided by former Princeton head coach and Kings assistant Pete Carril, the so-called "Princeton offense" impressed others for its quick style and strong ball movement. Some criticized the Kings for their poor team defense, Williams's "flash over substance" style of play with its many turnovers, and Webber's failure to step up in important match-ups. Still, they quickly garnered many fans outside of California, and even around the world, many of which were drawn to Williams' and Webber's talent. Despite their successes, they were still a young team and were ultimately defeated by more experienced teams in the playoffs, losing to the Utah Jazz in 1999 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000.
Following the 2000 season, the Kings traded starting small forward Corliss Williamson to the Toronto Raptors for defensive shooting guard Doug Christie. Peja Stojakovic and Chris Webber proved to complement each other well, and as the Kings continued to improve, their popularity steadily rose, culminating in a February, 2001 Sports Illustrated cover story entitled "The Greatest Show On Court". In 2001, they won their first playoff series in twenty years, defeating the Phoenix Suns three games to one, before being swept in four games by the Los Angeles Lakers, who eventually won the NBA championship.
In July 2001, starting point guard Jason Williams was traded to the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies for point guard Mike Bibby. The trade solved the Grizzlies' need for an exciting, popular player to sell tickets after transplanting to a new city, while the Kings sought more stability and control at the point guard position. This move was complemented by the re-signing of Webber to a maximum-salary contract, securing the star power forward over the long term.
With the addition of Bibby, the Kings had their best season to date in 2001–02. The team finished with a league-best record of 61–21, winning 36 of 41 games at home. The Kings would go on to play the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, and in one of the most controversial series in NBA postseason history, were defeated in seven games. After winning another division championship by going 59–23 in 2002–03, the Kings lost Webber to a knee injury in the playoffs, and they ultimately lost to the Dallas Mavericks in a seven game series. Webber's knee required major surgery. Although he returned mid-season in 2003–04, he had lost some of his quickness and athleticism; the Kings ended the season with a playoff defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves in seven games.
The 2004–05 season marked more change for the Kings, who lost three of their starting players from the 2002 team. In the offseason of 2004, Divac signed with the rival Lakers, giving Brad Miller the starting spot at the center position. Early in the season, Christie was traded to the Orlando Magic for shooting guard Cuttino Mobley, and in February, Chris Webber was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for three forwards (Corliss Williamson, Kenny Thomas, and Brian Skinner). The Kings ultimately lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Seattle SuperSonics. The 2005 offseason continued with more changes, with the Kings trading fan-favorite Bobby Jackson for Bonzi Wells and acquiring free agent forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
The 2005–06 season started off poorly, as the Kings had a hard time establishing team chemistry. Newcomers Bonzi Wells and Shareef Abdur-Rahim made major contributions early in the season, but both were injured and missed a significant number of games. As the Kings' dismal season continued, the Maloofs decided to make a major move.
Popular sharpshooting small forward Peja Stojakovic was traded for Ron Artest, long known for his volatile temper. With Artest in the lineup, the Kings had a 20–9 record after the 2006 NBA All-Star Weekend, which was the second best post-All-Star break record that season. The Kings finished the regular season with a 44–38 record, which placed them 4th in the Pacific Division. The Kings were seeded 8th in the Western Conference playoffs, and were matched up in the first round against the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs eliminated the Kings 4 games to 2.
In 2006–2007, the disappointing play of the Kings was coupled with the distraction of legal troubles. Coach Eric Musselman pleaded no contest to DUI charges early in the season, while star Ron Artest got in trouble for neglect of his dogs, and was later accused of domestic assault. The Kings relieved Artest of basketball duties, pending investigation, then later reinstated him. The Kings finished the 2006-07 NBA season with an overall record of 33–49 (their worst in 9 years) landing them in fifth place in the Pacific Division. They posted a losing record (20–21) at home for the first time since 1993–94. Their season included a seven game losing-streak that lasted from January 4 to January 19. Consequently, the Sacramento Kings missed the 2007 NBA Playoffs, the first time in eight seasons. Musselman was fired on April 20, 2007. The Kings' future appeared to rest on the shoulders of breakout star Kevin Martin, who was a leading candidate for 2007 NBA Most-Improved Player of the Year.
The 2007 off season was a time of change for the Kings. Head coach Eric Musselman was replaced by former Kings player, Reggie Theus. On June 28, 2007, the Kings selected center Spencer Hawes as the 10th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.
In addition to these changes, the Sacramento Kings acquired center-forward Mikki Moore from the New Jersey Nets. Kevin Martin signed a contract worth $55 million, extending his period with the team for five more years.
However, the Kings also lost some key players over the offseason, with backup point guard Ronnie Price leaving for the Utah Jazz, and Corliss Williamson retiring.
The team claimed fourth-year point guard Beno Udrih off waivers from Minnesota. Udrih quickly assumed the starting point guard job, as Bibby was injured.
It was announced on February 16, 2008 that the Kings had traded longtime point guard Bibby to the Atlanta Hawks for Tyronn Lue, Anthony Johnson, Shelden Williams, Lorenzen Wright and a 2nd round draft pick. The move was presumably made mostly to clear space under the salary cap. Bibby was the last remaining player from the Kings team that had reached the Western Conference Finals back in 2002.
The Kings improved by 5 games and finished the 2007–08 season with a 38–44 record, missing the playoffs by a bigger margin (12 games) than the previous season (8 games). They went 26–15 at home and 12–29 on the road. After selling out every home game since 1999, the Kings during the 2007–08 season sold out only three games at ARCO Arena (against the Celtics and Lakers) with attendance averaging 13,500 fans per home game, almost 4,000 below capacity.
Following a quiet 2008 offseason, it was confirmed on July 29, 2008 that the Kings would trade forward Ron Artest and the rights to Patrick Ewing, Jr. and Sean Singletary to the Houston Rockets in exchange for former King Bobby Jackson, Donté Greene, a future first round draft pick, and cash considerations 
With the need to rebuild, General Manager Geoff Petrie is assembling a younger squad. With Kevin Martin, averaging over 20 points per game, and Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes, and Francisco Garcia, the Kings have assembled young talent through the draft.
Reggie Theus was fired in the middle of the 2008–09 season giving way to Kenny Natt as the interim head coach. The Kings continued to struggle under Natt, ending up with the NBA's worst record for the 2008–09 season at 17–65. On April 23, 2009, Kings' Vice President Geoff Petrie announced the firing of Natt and his four assistants, Rex Kalamian, Jason Hamm, Randy Brown and Bubba Burrage.
With the worst record of the 2008–09 season, the Sacramento Kings had a 25% chance of obtaining the first overall pick in the NBA draft. Overall, the Kings had a 64.3% chance of obtaining one of the top three picks in the NBA draft and could not draft any lower than number four overall. Due to the Houston Rockets finishing with a playoff spot, the Kings also owned the rights to Houston's pick as part of the Ron Artest trade.
On June 25, 2009 in the NBA draft, the Sacramento Kings selected Memphis point guard Tyreke Evans with the 4th overall pick. With the 23rd pick acquired from the Rockets in the Ron Artest trade, the Kings selected Omri Casspi from Israel.
On December 21, the Kings overcame a 35 point deficit to defeat the Chicago Bulls, marking the largest comeback in franchise history.
In light of declining attendance at ARCO Arena and also in light of the increasing obsolescence of the building compared to newer NBA venues, there was a campaign to build a new $600 million facility in downtown Sacramento, which was to be funded by a quarter cent sales tax increase over 15 years. In 2006, voters overwhelmingly rejected ballot measures Q and R, leading to the NBA publicly calling for a new arena to be built at another well-known Sacramento facility, Cal Expo, the site of California's state fair. Negotiations between the Cal Expo governing board and the NBA (serving on behalf of the Maloof family) are ongoing; the Cal Expo board is looking for improvements to the entire facility (including $40 million in deferred maintenance) as well as a new arena. The NBA promises that no public money will be used for the project; the Cal Expo board has long sought state legislation that would allow Cal Expo to form a joint-powers authority to issue bonds and lease land to developers, it is thought that negotiations for an NBA arena will more quickly bring this to fruition.
Sacramento Kings roster
Archibald and Robertson were named two of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players in 1996.
The Rochester Sports Project, by Douglas Brei