STOCKTON -- With the Sacramento Kings cruising through their four-game road trip on the east coast, the team’s G League affiliate opened their inaugural season in Stockton, Calif., Friday evening.
After spending the last decade as the Reno Bighorns, the Kings relocated their affiliate 40 minutes down the road over the summer and rebranded the team as the Stockton Kings.
All of the team’s brass were in attendance and sitting courtside, including owner Vivek Ranadivé, COO Matina Kolokotronis, president John Reinhart, general manager Vlade Divac and all three of his assistant GMs, Brandon Williams, Ken Catanella and Peja Stojakovic.
Before the game tipped off, Ranadivé joined Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs at center court to welcome in the new crowd. Tubbs, 28, is one of the youngest mayors of a major city in the United States.
Purple towels adorned the seats of the Stockton Arena, that also houses the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League. More than 5,000 fans turned out to watch the Kings take on the Oklahoma City Blues on opening night.
Live from Stockton. pic.twitter.com/sfHW9jhVEp— James Ham (@James_HamNBCS) November 3, 2018
The roster is a mixed bag of veterans, local kids and a few NBA hopefuls. Wenyen Gabriel, one of the team’s two, two-way players, started on the frontline. Troy Williams, the Kings’ second two-way player is currently traveling with the parent club as they prepare to take on the Milwaukee Sunday afternoon.
Your Stockton Kings squad. pic.twitter.com/IoDUMPLVmQ— James Ham (@James_HamNBCS) November 3, 2018
While the team will play games in Stockton, they are headquartered out of the Kings’ former practice facility on the Arco property in Natomas. The current roster was assembled by general manager, Anthony McClish, as well as Drake U’u, the team’s assistant GM.
The move to Stockton allows for the better synergy between the parent club and the affiliate with players being able to transfer back and forth between the two teams in minutes.
It was a lively evening, but the game didn’t go as planned in the opener. The home team fell by a final of 124-89, but the crowd seemed to enjoy having basketball in their city for the first time.