The Kings, finally: goodbye to 16 years of misfortunes

I think our time will come soon”. Never has a sentence been so little foreboding, even taking into account the poetic injustice of being uttered by a mind as brilliant as Rick Adelman’s. It was June 2, 2002 in Sacramento, and the Kings had just lost to the Lakers in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. Thus ended, although subsequent rationalization increased the narrative, to one of the most incredible playoff series in NBA history: overtime in the final round, two game-winners, comebacks, controversy, mysterious poisoning… It had been the series of Robert Horry, Vlade Divac, Kobe Bryant, Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, Derek Fisher and a host of other names, with their corresponding surnames. A tie that marked a generation. But also the representation that failure is always more enduring than success and that when you are so close to catching what you most want, you cannot miss the opportunity. Because, immediately, it vanishes.

Their time did not come for those Kings, just as it had happened with the previous ones and would happen with the following ones. Only with the nomenclature of the Rochester Royals did they reach the ring, back in 1951. Since then, neither in Cincinnati nor in Kansas, already as Kings, achieved such success. And even less with the move to Sacramento, in 1985: there they had two participations in the playoffs in 13 seasons until the arrival of Rick Adelman, in which some successes began that never translated into rings, but did in the most incredible stage of the history of the franchise: 8 consecutive appearances in the final phase, four first rounds, three conference semifinals and those Western finals that were the top, the ceiling. The furthest they ever got, a series in which the winner would be the virtual champion of the ring: in the Finals the Nets of Jason Kidd and company were waiting, with Byron Scott on the benchbut they were still a weak rival that represented the enormous difference that existed then between the West and the East.

Adelman’s words, as much as they wanted to encourage their own at a terribly difficult time, were not true. The Kings, who lost their third straight series to the Lakers, they had lost 3-2 in 2000 (until 2003, the first round was played in 5 games). In 2003, with an injury to Chris Webber, they lost in the seventh of the semifinals against the Mavericks (Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Don Nelson on the bench…); and in 2004, they did the same against Kevin Garnett’s Wolves, again 4-3 and in the semifinals. Not even the Kings, in their most glorious stage, managed to win a definitive game: the only sin of a charismatic, fun and original teamwhich allowed the NBA to once again boast the most captivating game on the planet.

an eternal crisis

When Adelman left in 2006, the sole survivor of the 2002 team was Mike Bibby, a creative and scoring point guard who replaced Jason Williams in the summer of 2001. in a transfer promoted by Adelman himself, nothing in accordance with the leadership pulses that he dared to propose White chocolate. Then the crisis began: 16 consecutive years without playoffs, absolute NBA record: a gargantuan crisis, motivated by bad decisions, the memory of a past that never returned and the desire to emerge for a hobby that lives in a city that understands basketball. Disasters in the board, sometimes bad coaches, stars who failed to turn the situation aroundpoor draft picks, and many unsuccessful attempts to emerge and return to the finals.

In 16 seasons, The Kings have played 1,276 games of normal season for a record of 457-809. In Adelman’s 8 seasons, just half, 624 games were played for a balance of 395-227. 8 positive records were also achieved, 2 seasons above 40 wins, 5 (all consecutive) exceeding 50 and one of 60, that of 2002, in which happened what is already known to have happened. In the 16 years that followed, 16 losing records, no season reaching 40 wins and a top 39 with Dave Joerger. To which Vlade Divac, who was always a better player than manager, fired to hire a Luke Walton in what was a disastrous decision that ended with the resignation of Divac himself and the latest turn to a stage in which 16 coaches have passed through the bench in 16 years, including a George Karl who was also unable to revive the franchise despite having DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo on the track at the same time.

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The resurrection

The failure of the Cousins ​​stage, something that was never the fault of the pivot, He came together some time later with the selection of Marvin Bagley III ahead of Luka Doncic in the 2018 draft, a decision that has dogged the franchise in recent years. Nor was it seen with good eyes that last year Tyrese Haliburton, an incipient talent, was transferred to Domantas Sabonis, an All Star who had not finished exploding. Monte McNair, current General Manager, got fed up with Luke Walton’s miserable management and stayed with Alvin Gentry to finish the last season, again in negative (30-52). Keegan Murray came in fifth place in the 2002 draft, whose high position came from the terrible balance. Was a new era beginning? That was wanted in the Kings. And so it has been.

The decision to hire Mike Brown has been, in the long run, a success: and the influence of the coach in the resurrection of the Kings an indisputable fact. Brown, known for coaching LeBron’s early Cavs (Late 2007), had just learned from Steve Kerr in recent years. With a clearly defensive tendency in the past, the coach immediately understood that he could not entrench himself at the back with such offensive talents and created an attack from the blackboard with Domantas Sabonis as epicenter and D’Aron Fox (both in the All Star) as executor. And it worked: the Lithuanian center averages 19.2 points, 12.5 rebounds and 7.2 assists; the great point guard, 25.2+4.2+6.1. And 15.3 points from Kevin Heurter (close to 41% in triples), 15.1 from Harrison Barnes, 13.4 from Malik Monkt, more than 11 from rookie Keegan Murray… They all contribute. They all add up. And of course everyone believe.

The Kings have Foc tied up until 2026 and Domantas for another year. Of the senior staff, only Barnes and that slightly toxic contract that he signed in 2019 (85 million in 4 seasons, another controversial decision by the old board) is a free agent. And meanwhile, the Kings are the best offense in the NBA (121 points per night), second in field goal percentage, eighth in 3-point percentage and fourth in assists. They have reached 40 victories (46-30) for the first time since 2006 and could reach 50, something they haven’t done since 2005. They are an attractive, well-connected team that attacks very well and interprets basketball in an offensive way correct. And they are already mathematically classified for the playoffs: the end of the farce, of torture. From one of the worst records in NBA history. Domantas, Mike Brown (who will almost certainly be Coach of the Year), Fox, the spirit of Adelman… The end of the crisis is already here. The Kings return. the revolution returns.

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