Friday, 31 October 2014
Sunday, 08 February 2009 09:42

History of Sacramento Kings

Information about the NBA team Sacramento Kings.

Currently owned by the Maloof family, the Sacramento Kings in their black, purple, silver, and gold is a member of the National Basketball Association. It is based in Sacramento, California, starting as the Rochester Royals representing Rochester, New York in the National Basketball League (NBL). It is currently led by point guard and team captain Mike Bibby.

After the Second World War, the United States’ lack of an official league or association for professional basketball became apparent. Thus, the NBL was tapped to do the honors.

When the NBL progressed from being a regional semi-professional basketball league into the premiere national basketball loop of that time, the Rochester Royals were among those who were invited to play. The Royals, who were called Rochester Pros, was an independent team led by Lester Harrison. It has long been known as the Seagrams before adapting the name Pros. When they were invited for the NBL, they held a name the team contest and eventually chose the Royals as a nickname.

Founded and run by Hall of Famer Lester Harrison in 1945, the Royals had a fast and easy way to success. With the Rochester Royals winning the NBL championship in its 1945-46 season, Royals’ fans marveled in the team’s victory which it owed to Bob Davies, Al Cervi, George Glamack, and Otto Graham, the Royals’ power players. Otto Graham was to move to football, become a football superstar, and lead the Cleveland Browns to ten football championship games. Of these ten championship games, the Cleveland Browns won seven, thanks to Graham.

The Rochester Royals played at the Edgerton Park Arena from 1945 to 1955, and at the Rochester War Memorial from 1955 to 1957.

Moving into the Basketball Association of America (BAA) and the NBA

In 1948, the Rochester Royals team moved to the Basketball Association of America. They moved to BAA along with three other NBL teams: the Indianapolis (Kautskys) Jets, Fort Wayne Pistons, and the Minneapolis Lakers. However, the NBL merged with the BAA, thus forming the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The Rochester Royals was one of the 17 teams that comprised the first NBA season. The Royals got the NBA title in 1951, winning against the New York Knicks. To date, the 1951 season victory remains the team’s only NBA championship since its inception.

Throughout its 12 years of being the Rochester Royals, the team nurtured a number of players who were to become Basketball Hall of Famers. They were Al Cervi, Bob Davies, Jack Twyman, Jerry Lucas, Arnie Risen, Oscar Robertson, Maurice Strokes, Nate Archibald, and Bobby Wanzer.

In 1957, the team was relocated by the Harrison brothers to Cincinnati in Ohio. Despite a number of winnings in its history, including its NBA title in 1951, the Royals still ran low in finances, getting more and more pressured to acquire more fans to fill stadiums in its games. To do so, the Royals obtained local college basketball stars and true enough, Cincinnati’s strong college basketball fan base worked for the franchise. Among the team’s first drafts in Cincinnati were Clyde Lovellette and George King, along with college basketball stars Jack Twyman, Dave Piontek, and Tom Marshall.

The move to Cincinnati

When the franchise moved to Cincinnati, it was renamed as the Cincinnati Royals, playing its home games in the Cincinnati Gardens until 1972. Soon, the team was again relocated to Kansas City and Omaha, and acquired a new name for its self: the Kansas City – Omaha Kings. This was because Kansas’ baseball team was already named Royals.

There, the team acquired a new basketball superstar, Nate Archibald, who was known for his assists and scoring. When in Kansas City, the Kings played their home games at the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium (1972-1974) or at the Kemper Arena (1974-1985). When in Omaha, the team played at the Omaha Civic Auditorium (1972-1978).

The team’s new home seemed to bring a promise of continued success, especially when Cotton Fitzsimmons was hired as a coach. The team composed of strong players, including point guard Phil Ford, all-around shooting forward Scott Wedman, shooting guard Otis Birdsong, and center Sam Lacey. It also marked the peak of the Kings’ game attendance, hitting five digits for every game. The team even reached the NBA Western Conference Finals.

However, the team’s road to success was blocked by plagues of misfortune. The team was forced to move to the Municipal Auditorium when Kemper Arena’s roof fell due to a winter storm. The Royals’ Wedman and Birdsong were also lured by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Ted Stepien into big contract offers. The team’s general manager was fired due to involvement in a scandal where he was found to be reusing marked or used postage stamps.

The Kings also hired back Joe Axelson as the team’s general manager. Axelson was the one who traded Kings superstars such as Jerry Lucas, Nate Archibald, Norm Van Lier, and Oscar Robertson. In the team’s last game in Kansas City, fans wore masks of Joe Axelson. He is the first general manager in the history of professional sports to fail with a franchise in four various cities: Cincinnati, Kansas City, Omaha, and Sacramento.

The move to Sacramento

The Kings moved to Sacramento in 1985, playing at the ARCO Arena until 1988. In 1988, it moved to a new arena, which kept the name ARCO Arena. The Sacramento Kings played in the playoffs for only once in ten years.

More misfortunes hit the team, as promising point guard Bobby Hurley suffered a car crash, and Ricky Berry committed suicide. Fans attributed some of these happenings to “poor” management.

Throughout the Kings’ history, it has already won Division Championships for seven seasons. Two titles came from NBL (1947 and 1948), while the rest were from NBA Division Championships (1949, 1952, 1979, 2002, and 2003). The team also became NBL Champions in 1946.

The Sacramento Kings has retired eight jersey numbers: 1 for Nate Archibald, 2 for Mitch Richmond, 11 for Bob Davies, 12 for Maurice Strokes, 14 for Oscar Robertson, 27 for Jack Twyman, 44 for Sam Lacey, and 6 for the Sixth Man, Sacramento Kings’ fans.

The team has been a host to many basketball crowd favorites including Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Spud Webb, Wayman Tisdale, Peja Stojakovic, Tom Van Arsdale, Johnny Green, Matt Guokas, and Jimmy Walker.

However, the Royals’ years of standing fame and glory are fading in basketball memory. Though among the basketball powerhouses in the 1940s with legends such as Red Holzman, Otto Graham, Del Rice, and Chuck Connors, the Royals were eventually outshined by other NBA teams as the years progressed.

The Sacramento Kings, under different names from the Rochester Seagrams, to the Rochester Pros, Rochester Royals, Kansas City – Ohama Kings and Sacramento King, have already played in various arenas or venues, including the Edgerton Park Arena (from 1945 to 1955), Rochester War Memorial (from 1955 1957), Cincinnati Gardens (from 1957 to 1972), Kansas City Municipal Auditorium (from 1972 to1974), Omaha Civic Auditorium (from 1972 to 1978), Kemper Arena (from 1974 to 1985), ARCO Arena I (from 1985 to 1988), and ARCO Arena II (from 1988 to present).

The Kings’ Archibald and Robertson were recognized as two of NBA’s 50 Greatest Players in 1996. Predating even the establishment of the NBA, the Sacramento Kings is off to add more pages in its colorful history both in and out of the hard court.