By Joe Davidson
The Lakers. Always the Lakers
Kings fans see red when they view the team in purple and yellow, and tonight they also saw what appears to be the end of an era. The Lakers prevailed 116-108 in overtime in an emotionally charged regular-season finale on Fan Appreciation Night in what felt more like a final push out the door.
The Maloof family - owners of the Kings - were not present in Power Balance Pavilion, not out of fear of being booed. They had more pressing needs. They are in New York preparing for their Board of Governor's meeting to plead their case for relocation to Anaheim.
Kings fans stood before the game in a rare sellout and they stood down the stretch of regulation as Sacramento staged a rally and they stood when it was over, soaking up one last bit of the NBA on their turf. There were hugs and cheers and photos.
There were a lot of Lakers fans on hand, mostly wearing Kobe Bryant jerseys. With signs outside the arena warning fans that they were being watched and taped and with extra security and law enforcement on hand, there didn't appear to be any run-ins in the first half. By the time the alcohol settled in, however, taunts led to at least one skirmish in the upper deck and two Lakers fans being escorted out in the fourth quarter.
The lasting chant, however, were Kings fans offering, "Here We Stay" well after the game.
Kobe Bryant, long a thorn on the Kings side, scored 36 points, Marcus Thornton had 33 points, six rebounds and four assists. Tyreke Evans had 19, Samuel Dalembert had 18 points and Jason Thompson 16.
In a bit of irony, the last game for the Kansas City Kings, on April 14, 1985, was against the Lakers, a home loss. Two days after that game, the NBA announced that the Kings were headed to Sacramento in an overwhelming vote of NBA owners.
Now Sacramento waits for what seems to be the inevitable. Under commissioner David Stern, in office since the early 1980s, NBA owners have approved moves by a huge margin.
All told, the Kings played 1,144 games - preseason, regular season and playoffs. In 26 Sacramento seasons, the Kings posted interesting numbers: 17 sellout seasons, 10 playoff seasons, nine winning campaigns and sellout streaks of 451 and 394. The most anticipated games always seemed to be the Lakers. The most disheartening setbacks also were against the Lakers.
"The Lakers, they always break our hearts," Kings fan Doris Adams said. "But we can be proud. The fans here are the best anywhere."