The Sacramento Kings of the 21st Century

 

July 2007 - What Boston fans thought of Danny Ainge, pre-KG and Ray Allen trades. 

Less than three and a half years ago, the fan base in Boston wanted Danny Ainge's head. Ainge has since gone on to lead the resurgence of the fourth best NBA team of the 21st century, including a world title.

 

Let's take a look at the NBA's winners and losers of the 21st century -

Rank Team World Champs Playoff Seasons Playoffs Series Wins
1 LA Lakers 4 9 23
2 San Antonio 3 10 20
3 Detroit 1 8 16
4 Boston 1 7 11
5 Miami 1 7 7
6 Dallas 0 10 9
7 Phoenix 0 7 7
8 Orlando 0 7 6
9 Utah 0 7 4
10 Denver 0 7 2
11 New Jersey 0 6 9
12 Sacramento 0 6 5
13 Philadelphia 0 6 4
t-14 Indiana 0 6 3
t-14 New Orleans 0 6 3
16 Cleveland 0 5 8
17 Milwaukee 0 5 2
t-18 Chicago 0 5 1
t-18 Houston 0 5 1
20 Portland 0 5 0
21 Minnesota 0 4 2
22 Washington 0 4 1
23 Atlanta 0 3 2
24 Oklahoma City/Seattle 0 3 1
25 Memphis/Vancouver 0 3 0
t-26 New York 0 2 0
t-26 Toronto 0 2 0
t-28 Golden St. 0 1 1
t-28 LA Clippers 0 1 1
30 Charlotte 0 1(6 yrs) 0

 

The rankings were achieved in the following fashion: World Championships rule the roost, so the dreaded Lakers earn the top spot. Detroit, Boston and Miami all have one championship, but Detroit earns the next best ranking based on having the most playoff appearances (8 in 10 years). Boston bests Miami for the next slot, in spite of both teams having one championship and seven playoff appearances, based on the fact that Boston had more playoff victories. The tracking begins in the 2000-01 season. This may not be a perfect matrix, but it's close enough for our purposes.

Upon review, we find the Kings in the #12 spot. Six of their eight consecutive playoff appearances are covered in this span. Basically, we are the equivalent of a #7 Western Conference seed in the 21st century NBA playoffs. There are a few things that really stuck out at me on this list. OKC at #24. Now, I'm betting that they are going to be considerably higher on this list if Kevin Durant stays healthy and in Oklahoma. But if you've been a fan of the Thunder for the past 10 years (which would be a neat trick, considering that they were in Seattle for a good part of that time), the overall performance of the Kings would look pretty good to you.

Portland at #20, with no playoff wins this decade. Same with the Knicks, and with only two playoff appearances! And those wacky Dubs - man, has that fan base milked that Dallas playoff series or what?

On the flip side, life is pretty sweet if you are a Lakers or Spurs fan. As a Mavs fan, your season is always extended - and always ends with a loss.

Basically, if you've been a Kings fan in the 21st century,  you've had it better than most NBA fans, though overall the existence could be termed as slightly better than average. Lakers fans laugh at the Pacific Division Championship banners, but Clippers fans probably think that we whine like spoiled little biatches. It's a matter of perspective, I suppose.

None of this really changes where we are today - a team so far down the toilet that we are literally clinging to Pooh. But it does show where we have been in recent years, and that the past decade has provided more good than bad. Some people talk as if ARCO has not rocked since 2002, as though Kevin Martin's layup against San Antonio four years and eight months ago never occurred (you really want to click on that link). That simply is not true. We've had some great moments, and hopefully we're building for some new ones...and hopefully sooner than later.

Have we had to wait a long time for the next great moment? Yes or no, depending if you are asking a Lakers or Clippers fan. I think that the average Kings fan would say yes.

I understand why a segment of the fan base has grown impatient, and I'm not really trying to change anyone's mind here. But I also understand why there is a segment of the fan base that has not lost patience, and is still comfortable with staying the course and seeing this current version of the Kings through to the finish. Why there is a segment that is optimistic about the future that contains another lottery pick and cap space. Why there is a segment that (sometimes blindly) clings to the hope of the youth of this team growing into viable and productive NBA players.

I guess what I'm saying is that from 2000 through 2006, the Sacramento Kings filled my glass, not quite to the top but nearly full. While the last four plus years have been dry, my glass has remained a little better than half-full.

Cheers!

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