Sacramento Kings: How the NBA Destroyed the Franchise


When the Sacramento Kings parted ways with Michael Malone earlier this season, the team embarked on a downturn that could only be rivaled by the losses of the 2005 – 2006 campaign. Those losses came on the heels of two seasons ending in a disappointing fashion by being knocked out of the playoffs in consecutive years.

The 2002 playoffs were a true shot in the heart to the organization.  Tim Donaghy, now an ex-NBA official, brought allegations of fixing games and altering outcomes of games in the playoffs and cited the series between the Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002 as a prime example.  This series destroyed the Sacramento franchise in a single quarter of play, and it has never been the same since that night in May.

During that series, the Kings had a chance to clinch a spot in the NBA Finals with a win in Game Six.  According to Donaghy, two of the referees in that game decided that the series needed to be extended to Game Seven.  The game progressed as expected, with Sacramento taking a lead into the fourth quarter.

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Once the fourth quarter started, the game took a decidedly yellow and purple tilt.  In that quarter alone, the Lakers shot 27 free throws to the Kings’ paltry nine. Blatantly missed calls, imaginary fouls, and superstar treatment of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant led the Lakers back into the lead.

Then, in a move that was completely indicative of the game, Bryant landed an elbow right on the bridge of Kings point guard Mike Bibby‘s nose.  This results in Bibby on the floor and a DEFENSIVE FOUL called on Bibby.  The Kings went on to lose the game and the series. The franchise would never recover from this night.

In the following seasons, the Kings would lose in the semifinals and, again, in the first round of the playoffs the next year.  With the sting of three playoff losses in three consecutive seasons set in, the Maloof family started making some questionable personnel decisions trading away Doug Christie, Chris Webber, and Peja Stojakovic in the 2005-2006 season.

Along with trading away all these players, they let Vlade Divac walk in the free agency period of the 2005 season. The frustration of losing in the playoffs in consecutive seasons clouded the judgement of those that were in control and caused them to blow up the core of the perennial playoff contender in just one season.

The franchise has suffered at the hands of the NBA for four seasons under the .500 mark.  With the firing of Malone, they are on their way to a fifth season with a losing record.

All the problems in Sacramento can be traced back to a singular moment in their history, and wouldn’t you believe it, it was the moment where Bibby was lying on the floor of the Staples Center in Los Angeles with a bleeding nose, all because the NBA wanted more money…

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