There were a couple of Sacramento Kings references in Friday’s NBA 2K Player’s Tournament, including a shoutout to our beloved ARCO Arena.
It has been a long three-plus weeks since the NBA went on hiatus, and we are just starting to get our first taste of competition again, albeit in a different form. ESPN aired the first round of games of the NBA 2K Players Tournament, and there were a couple of Sacramento Kings tidbits throughout the broadcast.
Of course, there was the appearance of Harrison Barnes, live from the comfort of his Sacramento home. He took on Trae Young in a matchup of the tournament’s 2nd and 15th ranked players, which ended up being a 40+ point annihilation in Young’s favor. The players made light small talk and even discussed De’Aaron Fox for a bit. But one of the more interesting soundbites of the evening came during the matchup between Deandre Ayton and Zach LaVine.
LaVine was doing his best to make the broadcast interesting by asking Ayton questions to keep the conversation going. One of those inquiries was about which arena Ayton likes to play in most on the road. His answer was Madison Square Garden, sighting the atmosphere. It was when LaVine answered that the ears of Kings fans perked up.
He started off by saying that Ayton wasn’t in the league yet, but that his favorite away arena to play in was the old ARCO Arena. He talked about the way it was built, saying that it was “like a barn” with the fans on top of you. He said that it was definitely a “shooter’s gym” and mentioned something about a college atmosphere when Ayton stepped in and responded.
What makes this interesting is that the Kings signed LaVine to an offer sheet back in 2018, though they had already made their move to the new Golden 1 Center by that point.
While it was a surprise to hear ARCO Arena shouted out on national television, it was not a surprise that LaVine enjoyed playing there. There were a lot of guys who preferred playing in the old cow barn, mainly due to its electric atmosphere.
If anything, it was a nice bridging of the gap between the old school and the new school. LaVine is one of the most exciting players in the league, and it was refreshing to see him show respect to a classic building that was so beloved to us in Sacramento.
LaVine lost to Ayton, who will take on Trae Young in the quarterfinals on Tuesday on ESPN.