The Sacramento Kings sport one of the most exciting squads across the National Basketball Association (NBA) with a mix of experienced hoopers and youthful exuberance. In a first of its kind, NBA will grace the Indian courts with Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers facing off twice in as many days at the NSCI Dome in Mumbai on October 4 and 5. The event marks the first games played by teams from any North American sports league on Indian soil. Let’s take a look at the five things to know about the Kings
The Kings, among the oldest teams in the league, have an Indian-born co-owner and chairman in Vivek Ranadive. Randive was born in Mumbai and left India at the age of 17 to pursue higher studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) before earning his MBA at Harvard University in 1983. Ranadive held management and engineering positions with Ford Motor Company, M/A-Com Linkabit, and Fortune Systems. He became the co-owner and vice-chairman of the Golden State Warriors, making him the first person of Indian descent to own an NBA franchise.
Before the franchise became ‘Sacramento Kings' in 1985, they were a semi-professional team from Rochester, New York. The team from California was addressed as ‘The Royals'. The Kings won their first title in 1951 by beating rivals New York Knicks 4-3 in the Finals. That is the only championship the California outfit has won so far.
The rivalry between the two Western Conference teams reached its peak in the Game 7 of the 2002 Conference Finals. The Kings squandered their lead on multiple occasions. They had a 2-1 series lead and were primed to take a 3-1 lead. However, they fizzled out late in the fourth quarter. Sacramento responded by winning the Game 5 and even led 3-2 going into Game 6. But yet again, they were outsmarted by the belligerent duo of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal in the final two games, including a Game 7 in Sacramento.
For a player who once couldn't stand Sacramento Kings in his heydays, Shaquille O'Neal's move to become a minority owner of the Kings in 2013 came as a surprise. According to reports, Kings were sold for a then-record valuation of $535m to Randive, who envisioned a new area of rebuilding the franchise. Shaq, who dashed the Kings’ championship hopes for three straight years, acquired a minority share in the team and called the team 'Shaqramento Kings'.
Kings' head coach Luke Walton is a former Laker. He played 10 seasons in the NBA as a forward, winning two championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers. Walton bagged another title to his name, this time as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors. He later returned to the Lakers as a coach in 2016 before joining forces with Randive's Kings last season.
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