It doesn’t take much more than a simple glance at the Western Conference standings to see the Kings and Lakers are two franchises headed in two opposite directions. The Lakers (34-32) - a suddenly rejuvenated team that has crawled its way back into playoff contention. The Kings (23-43)….let’s just say they’re focused on bigger issues than their Win/Loss record.
Hard to believe that ten years ago, this was one of, if not the most heated rivalry in basketball.
This intrastate rivalry kicked off the new millenium with a shocking five-game series between the top-seeded Lakers, and eighth-seeded Kings (back when the first round of playoffs was best-of-five). L.A. asserted their dominance the next season with a second round sweep, and the season after with a…..well I shouldn’t have to tell you.
In all reality, the Kings of the so-called “glory days” never accomplished much, if anything, against the Lakers. One might ask how this could even be considered a rivalry when the teams’ series over the past twelve years has heavily favored the Lakers (19-32). But this is a rivalry that transcends numbers.
Kings-Lakers represents NorCal vs. SoCal, California’s capitol vs. its biggest city. For Kings fans, the Lakers represent the only obstacle that stood between the best team Sacramento has ever had and that ever so elusive championship. For Lakers fans, that Kings squad was the only true threat during L.A.’s three-year dictatorship over the NBA (whether they like to admit it or not).
Despite the .373 win % against the Lakers during the past decade, these games always hold a certain aura about them. When you see the ‘purple and black’ take on the ‘purple and gold’, you can’t help but reminisce about the cowbells clanging, and banners hanging from the buildings in downtown donning that bold lettering - BEAT L.A..
Whether it be a desire to beat a long-hated rival, or a case of nostalgia for the glory days, Kings vs. Lakers remains circled on Kings fans’ calendars, both longtime and newfound. As Sacramento continues to spiral toward another lottery pick, about all that’s left to salvage from this season is pride. That’s what on the line in game three of this season’s series against L.A.
The Kings travel to the City of Angels to take on the Lakers on Sunday at 6:30pm PST.