Thursday, December 11, 2014

30 Things you didn't know about our Sacramento Kings!

1.  The current Sacramento Kings organization was born from the semi-pro team, the Rochester Seagrams, in 1923 under owner and player Les Harrison.

2.  Most fans know that the Kings didn’t start out in Sacramento, but did you know they called five cities home throughout their history? Their addresses included Rochester (1923-57), Cincinnati (1957-72), Kansas City (1972-85), Omaha (parts of 1972-5) and finally, Sacramento (1985-present.)

3.  Through that time, they’ve also been known by four names: the Seagrams, the Pros, the Royals, and the Kings.

4.  Back in Rochester in 1945, the team name “Royals” came from a 15-year old fan named Richard Paeth, who won an essay content to name the team.

5.  The Rochester Royals joined the Basketball Association of America in 1948. A year later, the BAA was absorbed into the newly formed National Basketball Association, and the Royals became new members along with the Fort Wayne Pistons, Minneapolis Lakers, and Indianapolis Jets.

6.  In 1949-50 the Rochester Royals were 33-1 at home for a .971 winning percentage, the second-highest mark in NBA history. The best home winning percentage in basketball history was the 1985-86 Celtics who went 40-1 at the Boston Garden for a  .976 record!

7.  The Rochester Royals won the NBA championship in 1951 after defeating the New York Knicks 4 games to 3, still the only NBA championship in team history.

8.  But the Royals did win a National Basketball League (NBL) championship in 1945-1946 in Rochester. That year’s team included Otto Graham, who would go on to a Hall of Fame career in the National Football League.

9.  In 1960, Cincinnati Royals player Jack Twyman became the first NBA player ever to average over 30 points per game (31.2 ppg).

10.  In 1972, Royals player Nate Archibald became the only NBA player ever to lead the league in points and assists, averaging 34 points and 11.4 assists.

11.  The Royals officially became the Kings in 1972-1973 when the Cincinnati Royals moved to Kansas City-Omaha. They chose to change their name to the Kings because Kansas City already had a major league baseball team called the Royals and they wanted to avoid confusion.

12.  The first Kings game in Sacramento was on October 25, 1985 when the L.A. Clippers defeated the Kings 108-104 in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,333 fans at Arco Arena.

13.  After making the playoffs in 1986 during their first season in Sacramento, the Kings had a long run of bad luck and wouldn’t make the playoffs again until 1995-1996. Part of that “Kings curse” was the suicide of star guard Rick Berry during the 1989 offseason, a career-ending car crash by Bobby Hurley in 1993, and several questionable draft choices.

14. There are rumblings that the curse went all the way back to 1957, when the Royal’s All-Pro star Maurice Stokes suffered a head injury after falling on the court while pursuing a rebound. He was unconscious on the court for a moment but he seemed to shake it off. However, three days later, Stokes’ head injury was aggravated by the cabin pressure while flying back to Cincinnati for game two. He suffered a seizure and was permanently hospitalized, never to play again. At that point, Stokes was 2nd in the NBA in rebounds and 3rd in assists.

15. In 1960, the Royals drafted Oscar Robertson. He became one of the best players in the NBA, averaging a triple-double in 1961–62 and winning the Most Valuable Player award in 1964. However the Royals traded him to Milwaukee in 1970, where he immediately won an NBA championship with that franchise.

16. The Kings are the only franchise never to trail in a single NBA Finals series. (With only one championship to their credit, that obviously that means they’ve only been there once.)

17.  The Kings now hold the dubious distinction of having the longest active streak of draft lottery appearances (7).

18.  We all know and love the King’s current mascot “Slamson”, who started gracing the court since 1998. But before that, the Kings mascot was “The Gorilla” from 1985-1998.

19.  Sacramento can thank some odd circumstances for landing the team at all. During the 1979-1980 season in Kansas City, the roof collapsed on Kemper Arena after a severe storm, forcing the team to play in the much smaller Municipal Auditorium. The move cost ownership a lot of money in attendance, and the owners sold the team to a Sacramento group for $11 million, paving the way for their move.

20.  The general manager of the Kansas City Royals was once fired after he was caught reusing marked postage stamps.  

21.  The Kings had 18 lottery picks throughout their history, third behind only the Clippers (22) and Warriors (20).

22.  In their 28-year history in Sacramento, the Kings have only won the right to pick first in the draft once. In 1989, they only had a 6.3% chance of winning the first pick but did so, choosing Pervis Ellison #1. Atlanta, Dallas, and Toronto are the only other teams to pick no. 1 just once in the lottery era.

23.  In fact, the Kings have finished with the sixth-best odds of winning the lottery four different times. Those sixth-place odds resulted in picks #7 in 1992 (Walt Williams), and in 1990 (Lionel Simmons), and picks #6 in 1985 (Kenny Smith), and 1985, when they chose Joe Kleine.

24.  The 1990-1991 season was perhaps the most enigmatic in NBA and Kings history, after they went 1-40 on the road but 24-17 at home!

25.  Sports Illustrated featured a photo of Kings players Jason Williams, Doug Christie, Peja Stojakovic, Chris Webber, and Vlade Divac on the cover of their February 2001 issue, along with the title “The Greatest Show on Court.” That year they finished with a 55-27 record, their best in 40 years.

26.  Former Kings general manager Geoff Petrie, who was responsible for the trades and draft picks that brought in most of those players, won NBA Executive of the Year Award on two occasions.

27.  During that 2001-2002 season, the Kings went 61-21, a league best, and won 36 of 41 games at home. They played the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, which is still considered one of the best playoff series ever. The Kings lost the series in seven games but it was immersed in controversy.

It certainly looked like the fix was in, according to basketball commentators and sports journalists all over the country. The prevailing theory was that the referees made sure the Lakers won because the league would lose a lot of money if the Kings – a small market team - were in the finals or won the championship. During game six of that series, the Lakers were awarded 27 free throws on foul calls so ridiculous they became comical.

28.  Years later, a scandal erupted around allegations by former NBA referee Tim Donaghy of league fixes and improprieties. They reviewed game six of that Lakers-Kings series in detail and announced they found bad officiating, but no concrete evidence of a fix.

29.  The Kings sold out every home game at Arco Arena between 1999 and the 2006-2007 season. Attendance the next year was dismal, with only three sell outs all season and an average of 13,5000 fans per home game, about 4,000 below full attendance.

30.  Shaquille O'Neal purchased a minority share of the Sacramento Kings in 2013, renaming the team in his image, the "Shaqramento Kings".

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