April 13, 2011. Basketball historians will forever remember the day while Sacramento residents and fans alike will forever rue the day. For this is the day that marked the last of a franchise. Coincidentally, Phil Jackson may have coached his last regular season game on the floor where the Sacramento Kings played their last game.
The Maloof brothers, owners of the Sacramento Kings intend to call Anaheim home next season and it’s a foregone conclusion that the move will happen. Sure the L.A. Lakers beat the Kings as they should have, but this game was bigger than just a win or loss. For on this night, the NBA lost.
It was another Phil Jackson coached Laker team that closed the last memorable season for the Kings. Just as they did in game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals, the Kings pushed the Lakers to overtime in their last game of the season.
Despite being down 20 points at one time, the Kings rallied to take the lead and give 17,317 fans one last chance to rattle Arco Arena (I am aware of the name change but it will always be Arco). At one point it looked as if this young Kings squad would pull it off. It was if Kings greats Vlade Divac and Chris Webber were rewriting the script of that 2002 game behind the scenes somewhere. That is until, Kobe Bryant reminded them he was still king. This game lacked the rewards of winning that the 2002 game possessed , yet it will easily go down as the most memorable game in franchise history.
The Lakers will go on to play for something bigger while the Kings are once again forced to look forward to next year. Laker fans are able to celebrate this win and look forward to their next playoff series ala 2002. Kings fans can only wish they could feel like they did after that epic game in 2002. There is no “wait til next year” for the city of Sacramento. The capital city of California is left with a bigger loss to lament than their overtime defeat to their Hollywood counterparts.
To borrow a phrase reserved for their fellow Californians down south, “stay classy Sacramento“.