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Relocated NBA Teams: Kansas City Kings

The Kansas City Kings were an American basketball team that played in the NBA from 1972 to 1985. The Kings franchise is still alive today in the form of the Sacramento Kings. The team can trace its origins all the way to 1923 as the Rochester Royals based in upstate New York. Following a Merger with the Rochester Pros in 1945, the Rochester Royals were born. The Royals then moved to Cincinnati in 1957 becoming the Cincinnati Royals. The Kansas City Kings came into being when the Cincinnati Royals moved to the city in 1972. They played as the Kansas-Omaha Kings from 1972 to 1975 before dropping Omaha to become just Kansas City Kings. Initially, the team shared their home games between Omaha and Kansas and then became an exclusively Kansas team in 1978. For most of their time in Kansas their home stadium was the Kemper Arena.

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On court, the Kings found success hard to come by. Their most notable achievement was reaching the Western Conference Finals in 1981, which they lost in any case. After having barely snuck to the playoffs with a 40-42, the Kings had found themselves in the Western Conference Finals after beating the Portland Trailblazers 2-1 and 4-3 respectively. In the Conference Finals faceoff with the Houston Rockets, the two teams split the first two games before the Rockets blast off, winning the next three games to kill the King’s hopes of making the NBA Finals. Other than that, they only have a division championship, won in 1979 to show for their time in the city. They only made the playoffs five times during their 13-year stint in Missouri and finished in last place quite a few times. Perhaps the most colorful player ever to turn up for the Kings was Nate ‘Tiny’ Archibald. Archibald, signed during the team’s time in Cincinnati became the first player to lead the NBA in scoring and assists as he averaged 34.0 points per game and 11.4 assists per game in 1972/73. Lacking a sufficient supporting cast, Archibald would carry the team himself during their first four seasons in Missouri. Archibald was traded to the New Jersey Nets in 1976 and it is away from Kansas City where he would go on to have his best years.

Another notable memory was enforced on them by Mother Nature in form of a freak storm which brought down the roof of the Kemper Arena in 1979. The team was forced to play most of their games that season at the much smaller Municipal Auditorium. To many fans in Omaha who were bitter that the team had abandoned the city barely a year earlier, the misfortunes of the Kings was symbolic and much welcome retribution.

Why were the Kansas City Kings Relocated?

In 1983, the team, struggling to maintain fan appeal and improve their results on court was sold to a group of investors from Sacramento California for 1.5 million dollars. Outgoing owner Leon Karosen assured fans that the sale was made to enable the team stay in Kansas City. However behind the scenes the new owners were working overtime to move the team to the West Coast despite claiming they were trying to improve the team record and increase attendance. Barely a month after the purchase, it emerged that the Kings’ owners were working on plans to build a new stadium in Sacramento, but they vehemently denied the reports. At the start of the 1984-85 season, renovation works started on a warehouse in Sacramento to convert it into a 10,000 seat Arena. The Kings’ management now made conditions which had to be met to enable the Kings to stay. An unspecified number of tickets had to be sold, the team had to break even financially and a new, more favorable stadium lease deal had to be offered. Despite the attendance rising significantly and Kansas City offering a $1 a year lease deal for the Kemper Arena, the Kings were granted permission to move to Sacramento by the NBA on January, 21, 1985. Kansas City fans unleashed their anger on general manager Joe Axelson who had overseen the team as it failed in three different cities. Slogans such as “Kill Axelson”, “Nuke Sacramento” and “We want fat Axelson” could be heard during the teams final game in Kansas City in an abnormally packed Kemper Arena. Kansas City is yet to replace the Kings with another NBA team and the outlook for such an occurrence is slim.

Kansas City Kings most Notable Players

Tiny Archibald G 1972/73-1975/76

Don Kojis SF 1972-1975

Nate Williams G 1972-1975

Larry McNeill C/PF 1973-1976

Jimmy Walker G 1973-1976

Ollie Johnson G 1974-1977

Bill Robinzine PF 1975-1980

Scott Wedman SF 1974-1981

Tom Burleson C 1977-1980

Otis Birdsong SG/PG 1977-1981

Sam Lacey C 1972-1982

Joe Meriweather C 1980-1985

Larry Drew G 1981-1985

Phil Ford PG 1978-1982

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    In 1953, the novel Casino Royale was first published. In 1972, professional poker player and 2001 WSOP Main Event champion Carlos Mortensen was born. In 2008, controversial celebrity poker player Brandi Hawbaker committed suicide. In 2011, Online Gambling was legalized in Washington D.C.

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