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Friday, April 19, 2024

Sacramento Kings’ successful season has captivated local basketball fans

Kings’ fans excited at prospect of ending a 16-year playoff drought 

 

By PATRICK FIGUEROA — sports@theaggie.org

 

Upon sunset, you might see something in the sky if you are driving near downtown Sacramento. It is a purple laser beam coming from the Golden 1 Center — the Sacramento Kings basketball arena. The beam was introduced for the 2022-2023 NBA season to signify a Kings’ victory. However, for a franchise that has been unsuccessful for most of the 21st century, the beam also signals hope for what is shaping up to be one of the best seasons in the Kings’ recent history.

The Kings have been in a 16-year playoff drought, which is a time period defined by the failure to reach the postseason in consecutive seasons. The Kings’ playoff drought is the longest active playoff drought in American sports. However, the 2022-2023 NBA season has been a treat for Kings’ fans because currently, the team is one of the best in the Western Conference.  

Through 55 games, the Kings are in third place in the Western Conference with a 31-24 record. For reference, the most games the Kings have won in the past 16 years was 39 games during the 2018-2019 NBA season. For Kings fans who have watched basketball during this 16-year stretch, this season has been a memorable experience so far. 

“This entire season has felt like a dream,” said Timeout Radio Host and Kings fan Rohan Baxi. “I finally feel a sense of pride being a Kings fan and atop all our long-time rivals.”

“This Kings’ season has been amazing for me so far,” said Davis local and lifelong Kings fan Will Wyman. “The last time we had this many wins at this point in the season I was in, like, first grade. It’s crazy for me to see a good Kings team on a nightly basis.”

“I have been a Kings fan ever since I started watching basketball in middle school,” said Peni Billings. “They have been in a playoff drought before I was even a fan, so to finally be able to witness such a feat truly is a great feeling.”

When speaking with Kings fans, they often express their love for the gameday experience at the Golden 1 Center. 

“The arena is amazing. [It’s] a great addition to Downtown Sacramento. The fans are so loud that it seems like a playoff game,” Baxi said. “The Sacramento area has continued to show up through the ups and downs of this 16-year drought, and I can’t even imagine what it will be like come playoff time.”

“I have been to a good handful of games this year — I think six games,” Wyman said. “The atmosphere inside Golden 1 Center is awesome. I think the Kings have the best fans in the NBA, and the rest of the league is finally starting to notice.” 

According to ESPN’s 2023 NBA Attendance Report, the Kings’ average attendance for home games is 17,115 fans. For reference, the Golden 1 Center’s maximum capacity is 17,608.

There have been several major contributors for the Kings this season, but their fans seem to agree that one player is a large reason for their success: center Domantas Sabonis. 

He’s the catalyst for everything the Kings do on the offensive end,” Wyman said. “He’s an amazing rebounder and a smart playmaker, two things that pay dividends for this team.” 

Last season, the Kings acquired Sabonis in a trade that sent fan-favorite point guard Tyrese Haliburton to the Indiana Pacers. Kings fans and NBA analysts were originally unhappy with the trade, as they believed that the Kings traded away a future star for Sabonis. However, Sabonis was recently given the honor to represent the Kings in the NBA All-Star Game, a feat unheard of in the team’s recent history. The last Kings’ player that was named an All-Star was center DeMarcus Cousins during the 2016-2017 NBA season. 

There are still many games to be played before the NBA regular season ends on April 9. In a tightly packed Western Conference, the Kings will have to continue playing at a high level if they want to end their playoff drought. No matter how the rest of the season pans out though, Kings fans have made lifelong memories during the first 55 games of the 2022-2023 season.

“The seven-game win streak in November,” Baxi said, reminiscing on his favorite memory of the season so far. “[It] included quality wins versus the Cavaliers, Lakers, Warriors, Nets, Spurs, Pistons and Grizzlies.”

Billings said, “Other than winning, obviously, I believe my personal favorite memory of the Kings so far is this newfound energy they seem to be playing with. The pairing of Domantas Sabonis and [point guard] De’Aaron Fox is spectacular. Having [Sabonis] take the load away from Fox if need be, and he can dish out to role players like [shooting guard] Kevin Huerter.”

Wyman said, “My favorite part of the Kings season so far has been the beam. It’s incredible. It brings the fans and the players together in a very special way. It’s really cool to leave the arena after a win and see that purple laser shooting into the sky.”

For Kings fans, the 2022-2023 NBA season is like the beam shining in the Sacramento night sky. It is a sign that things are getting better, and the future is bright for their team.

 

Written by: Patrick Figueroa — sports@theaggie.org