For one last time this season, the Sacramento Kings will take the court. Tonight, when the Kings host the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2012-13 regular season finale, emotions will ride high. Will it or won’t it be the last game ever in Kings’ franchise history?
But fans can take solace in this: you’ve been here before.
When the Kings hosted the Los Angeles Lakers two years ago, a sellout crowd packed Sleep Train Arena to say goodbye. A move to Anaheim was all but a done deal in many experts’ minds as fans stepped inside that old barn in Natomas. With uncertainty filling the air, Kings fans cheered that game like it was surely their last.
“The emotion of the night of the final game here was as vibrant a memory of the great successes at any time during the previous 25 and three quarter seasons,” said Gary Gerould, the venerable play-by-play voice of the Kings in the documentary “Small Market, Big Heart”.
“It was magical,” he added with an effervescent and reflective smile.
In the fourth quarter, the Kings stormed back from an 18-point deficit to force overtime. Unfortunately, the Lakers were able to withstand the Kings’ valiant comeback to win 116-108.
But the outcome on the court didn’t matter that night. What happened after the final buzzer was a bigger story.
“When you looked into their eyes, it looked like a piece of their hearts came out,” Kings guard Marcus Thornton told me of the fans he greeted following that final game of the 2011 season for a piece published in SLAM Magazine .
Compiled below is a slideshow of several standout moments from that game. Some of them, you may have seen, while others maybe new. They serve as a reminder, as well as a preview of what the atmosphere may be like inside Sleep Train Arena on this last night of the regular season.
Editor’s Note: We’re breaking format for coverage of tonight’s season finale. Because tonight’s game will be about more than the game itself, there will be no preview or CK Press Box Report.