The Kansas City-Omaha Kings

Graeme
By
Posted: March 2, 2015


The Kansas City-Omaha Kings were a professional basketball outfit that played in the NBA from 1972 to 1985. Today, the franchise is known as the Sacramento Kings. The franchise was not a very successful team and regularly failed to reach the playoffs and occasionaly finished last in their division.

How did the Kings Start up?

In 1972, struggling franchise Cincinnati Royals came to Kansas City hoping to turn their fortunes around. The nickname “Kings” was chosen to avoid confusion with the Royals baseball team. The new team was to divide its home games between Kansas City and Omaha so it was called Kansas City-Omaha Kings. Eventually, the team stopped playing in Omaha and it became known as just Kansas City Kings.

The Kings in Competition

In their inaugural season, 1972/73, the Kings were heavily reliant on Nate Archibald who averaged 34 points and 11.4 assists. However they finished in last place in the Midwest Division with a 36-46 record. The next season, with Archibald playing just 35 games, the team finished last again with a 33-49 record. In 1974-75, with six players including Archibald averaging double figures in scoring, the team finished second in the division with a 44-38 record. In the playoffs, they faced the Chicago Bulls to whom they lost in six games. The following season, the team started playing their home games exclusively at the newly built Kemper Arena in Kansas city and dropped Omaha from their name. They finished the season in third with a 31-51 record. They Narrowly missed the playoffs and Nate Archibald departed for the New Jersey Nets.

The Kings went a further three seasons without making the playoffs before surprising everyone with a first place 48-34 finish in 1978/79. They were however bundled out in five games by the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals. They met the Suns again in the playoffs of 1979/1980 after finishing runners up in the division with a 47-35 record. The Suns repeated the previous year’s upset this time in three games. In 1980/81, despite struggling in regular season in which they posted a 40-42 record, the Kings beat the Portland Trailblazers in three games in the first playoff round. They followed this up by beating the Suns in the second round to reach the Western Conference Finals where they lost 4 games to 1 to the Houston Rockets. The Kings then had another two disappointing seasons in which they missed the playoffs. In the 1983/84 season, they met the LA Lakers in the playoffs first round and lost in three straight games. They would then fall to last place the following season with a 31-51 record and this turned out to be their last year in Kansas.

The Kansas City-Omaha Kings’ most Notable Moments

On June 4, 1979, barely five years after the Kings relocated to the Kemper Arena, a section of the stadium succumbed to a major storm that brought 70 mph winds and heavy rain. This caused a portion of the stadium’s roof to collapse but thankfully with the stadium being empty at the time, no one was injured. The collapse shocked the architecture world but in Omaha city which the Kings had abandoned a year earlier, there was a lot of amusement at the collapse. The Kansas Kings were forced to play most of the season at the Municipal Auditorium and returned after repairs were complete.

The Kansas City-Omaha Kings’ most Notable Players

Nate Archibald was one of the best players ever to grace the NBA and he was part of the Kings’ roster from 1972 to 1976. In 1973 he became the first player in the NBA player to lead in both scoring and assists averaging 34.0 points and 11.4 assists per game respectively. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1991.

Shooting guard Otis Birdsong was signed by the Kings as a rookie in the 1977 draft. He was strong both offensively and defensively and was instrumental to the team following the departure of Archibald in 1976.

Phil Ford was drafted in 1978 and immediately delivered a Rookie of the Year performance as the Kings won the Midwest Division in 1978/79.

What Happened to the Kansas City-Omaha Kings?

On June 8, 1983, the team was acquired by a Sacramento investment group for $10.5 million. As with the previous owners, the group, led by Greg Lukinbill assured Kansas fans that they would not relocate the team. In the background however, they were working to take the team to Sacramento. When they made demands for improved terms for the Kemper Arena, Kansas City offered to charge them just $1 a year plus a percentage of parking and concessions, underlining how badly the city wanted to retain the team. However that same day the new owners filed paperwork with the NBA to relocate the team. At the end of the 1984/85 season, the NBA voted unanimously to allow Kings to move to Sacramento. The team was renamed Sacrament Kings and is currently subject of relocation possibility.

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