Mike Bibby, moments after his game-winning shot in Game 5 of 2002 Western Conference Finals.
If you're a loyal sports fan, then you live by your team and die by your team. When times are good for your team, they're good for you. When times are down for your team... you're down too. No matter what, there are plenty of memories associated with that team.
If the Sacramento Kings are your favorite team, then you've had more bad memories than good over the past few years. But we must not let those moments drown out all the good ones the Kings have had. And needless to say, they've had quite a few of them.
After 28 years in Sacramento, plenty of important moments come to mind. Yet some of them stick out more than others. Here are the moments Kings fans will never forget...
By the way, if there are any missing, please feel free to add them in the comments section.
Reggie Theus was one of the original Sacramento Kings.
The team relocated from Kansas City to Sacramento following the 1984-85 season. The Kings submitted paperwork for relocation to Sacramento on Jan. 21, 1985. Then, a few months later, following the regular-season finale, on April 15, 1985, the league unanimously approved the move.
Full disclosure: I'm too young to remember this event. At 28 years old, I would have been less than a year old when the Kings made their move. But it's undoubtedly one of the seminal moments in the franchise's history in Sacramento. After all, without moving to Sacramento, there would be no Sacramento Kings.
This is the moment that started it all for Sacramento fans.
This was a legendary moment in Kings lore. It's symbolic for so many reasons. It symbolized the bad blood between the Lakers and Kings, and it was a rallying cry for the hatred Sacramento fans had for pretty boy Rick Fox.
Probably most remarkable of all is that the fight actually occurred in the preseason. Teams generally don't get too emotionally involved in preseason games, yet the Kings and Lakers had a fight...and one that ended up spilling into the tunnel after it was broken up on the court.
I can remember exactly where I was when this happened. I was in Hawaii on a family vacation. Instead of going to the beach or enjoying Maui, I was holed up in my hotel room watching preseason basketball. Naturally, I can tell you a few vague details from my week-long vacation, but I can recall with clarity everything about this fight.
After the injury, all Webber could do was watch as the Kings fell in seven.
After making it to Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals in 2002, the Kings were looking to seal the deal and capture the NBA crown in 2003. They certainly had a team that could do it. That is, until Chris Webber went down in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
The Kings managed to post a 59-23 record that season despite dealing with injuries throughout the campaign. Webber missed 15 games, Stojakovic missed 10 games, Bobby Jackson missed 23 games and Mike Bibby missed 27 games. But the team was finally healthy as the postseason rolled around.
Sacramento rolled through Utah in five games and had moved on to the Mavericks in the Conference Semifinals. Then, after defeating the Mavericks in Game 1, Webber's injury proved too much to overcome. The Kings forced the series to seven games but ultimately lost.
The team would make the playoffs each of the next three seasons, but that 2003 playoff run was its last good chance to take home the title.
I struggled with whether or not to include this moment. For most Kings fans, myself included, the 2002 Western Conference Finals aren't a pleasant memory. Between the mysterious calls in Game 6, which led to 28 fourth-quarter free-throw attempts for the Lakers, and Sacramento missing 14-of-30 free-throw attempts in Game 7, it's a series most would just as soon forget.
But if there's one thing worth remembering from that showdown it's Mike Bibby's game-winning shot in Game 5. With the Kings trailing 91-90 with 11.4 seconds remaining in the game, Bibby was able to hit a 22-foot jumper coming off of a screen/assist by Chris Webber. The shot gave Sacramento a 92-91 lead, which it was able to hold onto in securing a 3-2 series advantage.
It was the high of highs for Kings fans, even if it was closely followed by the low of lows.
Unfortunately most recent memories for Kings fans haven't been very good. Instead of reflecting on something positive, most fans have been faced with negativity. Yet this emotional sign-off to the 2010-11 season by team broadcasters Grant Napear and Jerry Reynolds is bittersweet.
It's bitter, because watching it reminds Kings fans of how close the team was to leaving for Anaheim, California just two years ago. It also forces fans to face the reality that the franchise is once again trying to relocate—this time to Seattle.
However, it's sweet because we know how this particular saga ended. When thinking about it, all I'm reminded of is how dark that time was, yet how Mayor Johnson was able to go to New York and save the Kings.
So while we're reminded of the repeated attempts to move the team, and how close this one actually came to occurring, we also remember that we've been down this road before and our community stepped up to keep the Kings in Sacramento.
Here are a few moments that, while not as important as the others listed, still stand out in the minds of Kings fans.
Mitch Richmond winning All-Star MVP in 1995
It's not so much that this moment stands out as much as it's Mitch Richmond standing out. Certainly through no fault of his own, the Kings simply didn't have much success during Richmond's tenure. That doesn't change the fact that he's the best player in the Sacramento era and one of the NBA's top talents throughout the '90s. His winning the All-Star Game MVP only verified it to the rest of the world.
Other than the fact that there are no other major professional sports teams in Sacramento, there weren't many good reasons to watch the Kings during their early years in Sacramento. Mitch Richmond was surely one of them.
Tyreke Evans' half-court shot to win it against Memphis
The shot didn't occur in the playoffs, and it didn't spur the team on to a great run in the season. Therefore, it doesn't merit its own slide. But Tyreke's game-winner was amazing. To this day, I can't watch that clip without laughing at Grant Napear's reaction. He's totally stunned. It's clearly one of the most memorable occasions of the past few years...even if it's from a regular-season game.
Comeback against the Chicago Bulls
Like Tyreke's shot, this was a regular-season game, so it didn't deserve its own slide. However, this is the most amazing comeback I can recall seeing. The Kings trailed the Bulls 67-43 at the half. Chicago would extend its lead to 35 when it led 79-44 with 8:50 remaining in the third quarter.
Yet the Kings outscored the Bulls 58-19 over the next 20-plus minutes of action to steal the game, 102-98. I can remember changing channels in the third quarter, thinking the game was over, only to peek back a little bit later to see the Kings were closing the gap. What I saw from then on might be the most fun I've ever had watching a regular-season game.
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