The Sacramento Kings were involved in perhaps the most controversial NBA game of all-time. The contest in question is Game 6 of the 2002 NBA Playoffs. The Kings were usurped by their main rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, 106-102.
The game was marred by a series of bad and phantom calls. One of the most egregious was Kings guard Mike Bibby picking up a foul after he was elbowed in the face by Lakers great Kobe Bryant. The Lakers shot an amazing 27 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Famous sportswriter Michael Wilbon said he noted six “stunningly incorrect” calls all going against the Kings. Respected NBA pundit David Aldridge said the fouls had a “staggering” impact on the game. Many fans without a rooting interest felt the officiating was lopsided and suspicious. Some even believed the game was fixed.
In 2008, former NBA official Tim Donaghy claimed that Game 6 was fixed by the league to ensure that the series would go seven games. An investigation was held in the wake of Donaghy’s comments but no evidence was found to back up his accusations.
The Kings went on to lose Game 7 and the Lakers went on to win their 14th NBA title. The Kings may have lost their opportunity to play for a championship but they are still the only team to never trail in an NBA Finals series (of the teams that have actually reached an NBA Finals). The Kings won their first NBA championship in 1951.
The Kings are aligned in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. They play their home games at the Sleep Train Arena. Sacramento basketball fans are loyal subjects. That’s partly due to their love of hoops and partly due to the fact that the Kings are the city’s only major professional sports franchise.
The Kings were founded in 1923 as the Rochester Seagrams. In 1948, they changed their name to the “Royals”. In 1957, they relocated to Cincinnati. The team moved again, this time in 1972 and this time to Kansas City. To avoid confusion with the Kansas City Royals of MLB, the team opted for the nickname “Kings.”
Not finding much success in the heartland, the Kings migrated to the West Coast. Their first season in Sacramento was the 1985-1986 campaign and they managed to qualify for the postseason. They wouldn’t make it again for another decade.
Some of the franchise’s most notable players over the years include Oscar Robertson, Mitch Richmond, Nate Archibald, Jack Twyman, Chris Webber, Sam Lacey, and Vlade Divac.