SACRAMENTO -- After more than a decade of failed arena deals and multiple relocation attempts, the Sacramento Kings will host Maccabi Haifa in their first official preseason game at the new Golden 1 Center Monday night. This is the second time in three seasons that the Kings have hosted the Israeli league team, including a 91-59 win for Sacramento in October of 2014.
Maccabi Haifa, also known as the “Greens”, have reached the Israeli State Cup finals or Israeli League finals in five of their last nine seasons. Sacramento Kings forward Omri Casspi, the first Israeli-born NBA player, defeated Maccabi Haifi as a member of Maccabi Tel Aviv in the 2008-09 Super League Championship.
Former Detroit Pistons big man, Tony Mitchell, is expected to start at the center position for Maccabi Haifa. The 6-foot-8 post player out of Alabama was taken with the 37th overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft and is the only player on Maccabi Haifa’s roster with NBA experience.
This is an international tune-up before the Kings hit the road later in the week to take on the Lakers in Las Vegas and the Wizards in Kentucky at Rupp Arena.
Arena workers have had a few test runs to prepare for tonight’s game. Paul McCartney officially opened the Golden 1 Center last week with back-to-back shows on Tuesday and Wednesday. And WWE dropped by over the weekend as part of their “No Mercy” tour.
The Kings have plenty of activities planned for the new building that they will fit around the NBA schedule, including rock band Maroon 5 over the weekend and a visit from singer Jimmy Buffett next month.
Sometimes you feel like a nut...
The Kings have helped opened the floodgates to the NBA’s new jersey sponsorship pilot program. Beginning in 2017, a Blue Diamond Almonds patch will appear on the front of the Kings uniforms, joining the Philadelphia 76ers as one of only two teams with uniform sponsorship deals in place.
“For decades, Blue Diamond almonds have been one of Sacramento’s most well-known products around the country,” said Kings President Chris Granger said via press release. “We are proud of this community’s history of high-quality agriculture – it’s why we’ve committed to supporting local producers by using locally sourced food in our arena and why our players are proud to showcase the Blue Diamond brand on the court and around the league.”
Blue Diamond Growers represent over 3,000 family growers that produce 80 percent of the world’s almonds. Financial terms of the deal are unknown at this time, but it is a multi-platform agreement that will include product placement at concessions stands and more.