One of the greatest American sports rivalries of the last decade, which caught the attention of even the most casual of sports fans, and saw diehard followers of both teams spew hatred at each other up and down the Gold Coast, has a chance to be renewed in the not too distant future.
There was, and still is, genuine hatred between these two franchises, which is rare in the NBA today.
From the more than 17,000 cowbells piercing the ears of the Laker contingent every time they ventured north, to Shaq famously referring to the Kings as the ‘Sacramento Queens”, and a boxing session between Rick Fox and Doug Christie which carried over into the tunnels of the Staples Center, during a preseason game nonetheless, there clearly isn’t any love lost between these two teams.
In one of the worst officiated series in NBA history, the Lakers beat the Kings in overtime of game seven, of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. With conspiracy talk adding more fuel to the fire, and even with the Kings having had their hearts ripped from their chests, Sacramento felt primed to make another run as an NBA title contender in 2002-2003 campaign.
Chris Webbers knee injury against Dallas that year effectively ended any championship aspirations, as well as any chance at redemption against the Lakers in what would have been a second consecutive meeting in the Western Conference Finals.
It has been a tumultuous seven years for Kings fans since that point in time. The team has long since been dismembered, with the majority of that team now enjoying retirement. The Lakers however, having recovered from the Kobe vs. Shaq fiasco, have a chance this season to pull off their third consecutive championship, and cement both Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson as two of the greatest talents this league has ever seen, as player and coach respectively.
These are two franchises at two different points in their development.
The Lakers are on top of the world, and are the favorites to make it back to the Promised Land. The Kings meanwhile, are stockpiling young talent, and are a darkhorse to contend for a playoff spot going into this coming season.
Let’s take a look at five things which need to happen for the rivalry to kick into gear again, and add to the hatred which still exists between these two franchises.