Tonight, the building that for so many years was just a dream but finally became reality will close out its first season hosting the Sacramento Kings. And what a season it was.
No, we didn’t get to celebrate our first playoff berth in over a decade. But this building’s already seen some highs and some lows. DeMarcus Cousins scored the first official bucket in this arena, and not even six months later he’s on another team. The Kings opted for a fresh start in more ways than one.
Sacramento will play host to the Phoenix Suns tonight, a team that is currently undefeated in this building thanks to Devin Booker’s late game heroics (he will forever hold the record for first buzzer beating game winner in this building). Booker has gone on to have an amazing sophomore year, including scoring 70 points last month against the Celtics on the road. Alas, Booker will join the likes of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight on Phoenix’s bench tonight as the Suns try to stay winless for the rest of the season.
These two teams are inexorably tied together thanks to this past summer’s draft day trade that sent Marquese Chriss to Phoenix for the picks that became Georgios Papagiannis, Skal Labissiere, and the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic won’t come over until next year, but Skal especially seems to be worth the price of the trade alone. In his first matchup against Chriss, Skal dropped in a career-high 31 points, including 23 in the fourth quarter alone. Chriss has been one of the better rookies in this year’s draft but early returns seem in the Kings favor on this one. Only time will tell for sure.
Last year’s home finale was bittersweet. I was glad to see the new building come, but ARCO/Power Balance/Sleep Train was the only building I had ever seen Kings basketball in. It was the building where I fell in love with the sport and had tons of memories tied up in.
But now we have a new home, a place to build new memories, like for the hundreds of kids that tonight will be there thanks to your generosity. Tonight will be a celebration, win or lose, of how far we’ve come.
Here’s to many more years and a bright future.