After Thursday night's loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves in Sacramento, the Kings turned to their schedules to find only one home game left for the 2015-2016 season, and the absolute last National Basketball Association regulation game to be played in Sleep Train Arena. Oklahoma City is in town, and with that brings All-Universe players in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and a team that is sitting comfortably in the third seed of the Western Conference standings. There is no chance to play spoiler for the Thunder. There are no real records of importance to be broken, or much of anything that can be labeled as "compelling" between one team bound for the second round, and the other team closer to the second pick of the draft than to the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs. There is one singular reason to tune into this game, and it isn't the teams, or any players on those teams or the statistics they've produced in their time on the court. Tuning into tonight's game is about something bigger than basketball. It's about an end of an era, the realization of an impossible dream, and how you made that dream possible.
Saturday's game starts at 7:30pm PST, can be seen at Sleep Train Arena, or on CSN-CA and can be heard on KHTK 1140. Let's talk about the final game at Sleep Train.
Only One Reason to Watch:
In the coming months, word will begin to get out about the Golden 1 Center. Chris Granger and the powers that be will slowly open the floodgates for those who want to tour the arena they've seen grow in the middle of downtown Sacramento, and when that time comes, no one will be able to shut up about it. Like every other summer, there will be player and personnel turnover and regardless of the opinions that the fanbase may have on said maneuvering, the schedule will be released, training camp will come and go and the season will start. At the Golden 1 Center. In downtown Sacramento. There are no more lawsuits to worry about, no environmental impact reports, or possible relocation scenarios. There are no ownership changes to sweat, no maloofery to be had. This fall, all that will be left to worry about is the product on the court and why the arena's wifi is only seventeen thousand times faster than your internet at home, and not nineteen thousand times faster.
But that, that is this fall.
Saturday night the Sacramento King's play their final game at Sleep Train Arena. If you're local and you're going, this is your final drive out to Natomas for the game. A final time navigating the the parking lot exits after the game, and the final time you have to wonder which urinal in which restroom was the one that flushed for a decade straight. Greg Lukenbill patching up a roof mid-game, tarps falling on the court, buzzer beaters and heart break; every memory of the Kings in Sacramento has fallen on the eyes and ears of those within the confines of Sleep Train Arena, and after tonight, those memories proceed from the place no further. For most in attendance, tonight will be the final time they set foot inside the building that birthed the Greatest Show On Court, Tyreke Evans from Half Court, and the Loudest Indoor Arena on Earth.
This was the home to a fanbase, unparalleled.
In victory and in defeat, en route to the Finals or to Anaheim, Seattle and the like, Arco Arena, Power Balance Pavillion, Sleep Train Arena was the gathering place for a city of men, women and children unwilling to let go of the first thing that brought them together. The old barn out in Natomas has been home to a family clad in purple and ready to protest, ready to mobilize, ready to claw to the bitter end for a chance to prove the NBA was worthy of us, and now at the closing of a season and at the of an era, the city that was never ready to say good-bye, can celebrate knowing that for as far as the future can be seen, it won't ever have to be good-bye, only "See you next season!".
Good-bye, Sleep Train Arena. Thanks for the memories.
Prediction: A game will played, a team will win and none of it will really be the focus of what people remembered about the night. But, for the sake of continuity; Kings win 115-111.
For some possible basketball related things, head over to Welcome to Loud City.