The year was 2001, and the Sacramento Kings were in year three of the “Greatest Show on Earth” phase of their history. After spending two years getting bounced out of the first round of the playoffs – first by the Utah Jazz, and in 2000 by the hated Lakers – the Kings were ready to make a statement to the league that they were ready to be contenders.
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City after city, the Kings displayed their dazzling offense to the delight of visiting crowds, and in Sacramento, fans couldn’t get enough of the run-and-gun offense. This was also the season where ARCO Arena would become one of the toughest arenas to win a road game, as the team on the court, and the crowd in the stands, made sure to rattle opposing visitors.
Sacramento won a franchise record 55 games in 2000-01, and where just a game behind the hated Lakers for the best record in the Pacific Division. Their 55 wins were good enough for a third seed in the playoffs, and that meant a matchup with Jason Kidd and the 51-win Phoenix Suns in the first round.
For the first time in their history, Sacramento would open the playoffs at home, but in Game One, it looked like home-court advantage wouldn’t serve them well, as the Suns escaped in an 86-83 thriller.
But the Kings didn’t work hard and dazzle all season to bow out again in the first round. Oh no, Chris Webber and Co. was not having it, and the Kings blow the Suns out of ARCO with a 116-90 victory to tie the series going into the Valley of the Sun.
Back in those days, the first round was a best-of-5 series, and with the Suns having the next two games at home, it seemed like they were in prime position to take the series. But the Kings showed the Suns, and the rest of the West, just how much they have grown up, and in a back-and-forth Game 3, Sacramento came up victorious.
Then, On May 2, the Kings would finally punch their ticket to the second round of the playoffs. Despite the fact that the Suns gave everything they had to send the series to a fifth and deciding game back at ARCO, the Kings withstood everything Phoenix threw at them, and the Kings prevailed 89-82.
Although the Kings would be swept by the Lakers in round two, it was a momentous milestone for the Kings, as they advanced past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in their history. If only we could get those feeling back again.