The decade is coming to a conclusion and it has been a crazy 10 years in Sacramento. In many instances, basketball took a back seat to events happening off the court. Two full-blown relocation attempts, an ownership change and a shiny new building highlight the 2010’s.
It was a wild ride. Here is a look at the six moments that standout the most for the Sacramento Kings as we close the decade.
The Sacramento Kings have plenty of game winners during the decade. De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes and even Skal Labissiere have won games in the final moments of games. While they were all big shots, nothing compares to the buzzer beater from Tyreke Evans on Dec. 29, 2010.
With 1.5 seconds remaining, O.J. Mayo hit an off-balance runner from 20-feet out to give Memphis a 98-97 lead. DeMarcus Cousins fired an inbounds pass to Evans who took one dribble and fired from 50-feet away. Donté Green walked onto the court with his hands raised while the ball was still in the air heading for the hoop. The fans went wild as Evans jumped up on the scorer's table before being mobbed by his teammates.
It was an incredible moment for the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year and helped ring in the decade with a 100-98 win over a very good Grizzlies team.
Last Game in Sacramento?
2011 marked the first of two full blown relocation attempts by the Maloof family. After ownership worked out a deal to move the team to Anaheim, Mayor Kevin Johnson, the business leaders of Sacramento and the fans rallied against the Maloofs in an attempt to keep the team in Sacramento.
With the fate of the franchise undecided, April 13, 2011 marked the final game of the regular season and perhaps the last game in Sacramento Kings history. The Kings trailed the Los Angeles Lakers by 18 heading to the fourth and all seemed lost. The team rallied in the final minutes on big shots from Evans, Marcus Thornton and Jason Thompson. The Kings had a lead late, but Kobe Bryant tied the game with a 3-pointer with under five seconds remaining to force overtime and give Sacramento five more minutes of basketball.
The Kings lost in overtime, but it was the most emotional night in team history. Commissioner David Stern sided with Sacramento. 19 days later on May 2, 2011, it was announced that the team was staying. The initial relocation attempts fired up the fanbase and spawned the #HereWeStay and #HereWeBuild movements.
First and Goal at the 1
It all started with a tweet from Daina Falk, daughter of agent David Falk. “So I hear the Seattle Kings is officially a done deal! The Maloofs finally sold the ailing Sacramento team. #NBA”
Falk’s tweet was confirmed a day later by Adrian Wojnarowski and once again, the Kings franchise was thrust into full-blown relocation.
No agreement signed, but one source describes deal as "1st and goal at 1." Maloofs history of changing course late still makes many uneasy.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 9, 2013
It was a wild up and down few months in Sacramento. Hedge fund manager Chris Hansen worked out a deal to purchase the Kings and relocate the team to Seattle. The back-and-forth between fan bases became contentious. The news cycle never went cold. From Ron Burkle to Mark Mastrov to Vivek Ranadivé, it was whale watching season in Sacramento as the city searched for a new ownership group.
It all came to a conclusion on May 15, 2013, when Commissioner Stern once again sided with Sacramento and was able to transfer the ownership of the team away from the Maloofs and into the hands of Ranadivé’s group.
Arco closes, Golden 1 Center opens
In April of 2016, the Kings officially said goodbye to Arco Arena. The team moved into the building in 1988 and it had outlived viability at least a decade before they finally shut the doors following the last home game of the season. Sacramento bested the Oklahoma City Thunder by a final of 114-112 to send “The Old Barn” off as a winner.
In October of 2016, Ranadivé and his ownership group opened Golden 1 Center in the heart of downtown Sacramento. The state of the art arena hosted legendary rocker, Paul McCartney to open the building. The Kings played their first official game at G1C on Oct. 27, 2016, losing to the San Antonio Spurs by a final of 102-94.
The area surrounding Golden 1 Center has quickly developed around the arena and the area is hardly recognizable. In addition to being a world class venue that sees over 300 events a year, the building came with a 30-year lease that keeps the Kings in Sacramento for at least another three decades.
On Feb. 19, 2017, DeMarcus Cousins sat on a stool at the Smoothie Kings Center in New Orleans waiting to speak to the media after the All-Star Game. Moments before the first question was asked, Kings media director Chris Clark leaned in and informed the 6-foot-11 center that news broke during the game that he was being traded to the Pelicans.
In his six and a half seasons in a Kings uniform, Cousins had plenty of run-ins with coaches, management, teammates, media members, opponents and referees. He also was tremendous in the Sacramento community and beloved by many fans. He left the Kings officially on Feb. 20 along with Omri Casspi in exchange for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, as well as a first- and second-round picks in the 2017 NBA Draft.
During his time with the Kings, Cousins made three All-Star appearances and won an Olympic gold medal.
Lottery night 2017
At the time of the Cousins trade, the Kings were in contention for the playoffs, but they quickly fell out of the race, finishing the year at 32-50. By dropping out of playoff contention, the Kings retained their draft pick, which was on its way to Chicago as part of the J.J. Hickson deal from 2011. The pick was top 10 protected and the team finished with the eighth-worst record in the NBA.
On May 16, 2017, Sacramento moved up into the top 3 of the NBA Draft for the first time since 1989, when they landed No. 1 overall and selected Pervis Ellison. After moving up, the team then slid back two spots as part of a pick swap deal from 2015.
With the selection, the Kings chose De’Aaron Fox out of Kentucky, who is considered a cornerstone building block to the franchise. After decades of bad lottery luck, the Kings moved up in the 2018 NBA Draft as well, selecting Marvin Bagley with the No. 2 overall pick.