NORTH NATOMAS — It’s now official. The Sacramento Kings played their final NBA game in Arco Arena where the team was housed in North Natomas since the facility opened on Nov. 8, 1988.
For the celebration, the Kings brought more than 50 players, coaches, and former members of the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs to close out a building that has produced fond memories.
“Tonight pretty much put everything in perspective and everything we’ve been through,” said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. “The way tonight ended was priceless. It shows the passion of this city and the passion of the fans. You couldn’t ask for a more perfect place in my opinion. I’m glad I’m a part of it.”
The Kings (32-48) beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-112 in a dramatic contest to please a sellout crowd of 17, 317 loyal spectators. Darren Collison lead the way with 27 points eight assists, and five rebounds. Rudy Gay had 24 points, eight rebounds, and four steals. Gay also made the deciding free throws with 0.01 seconds on the clock to seal the victory.
“The crowd was amazing the whole night,” Collison said. “They were on their feet pretty much the whole entire game. I’m just happy that we got this win for this last home game.”
Kevin Durant had 31 points, eight assists, and six rebounds while Russell Westbrook added 24 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds for the Thunder (54-26).
“I missed a bunch of shots tonight that I wished I could’ve got back,” said Durant, who was 11-for-29 shooting from the field. “But that’s the name of the game. I thought we played great defense. It’s their last game here and I know how it goes.”
For the day, which practically drifted wee past midnight in the old “Arco Arena 2,” the last game professional basketball game in a building in front of the best fans in the NBA was a fitting ending. The players from the past and present felt the energy that has filled the facility for 28 years.
“In the NBA, there is nothing like this place,” said Scott Pollard, a Kings player from 1999 t0 2003. “There’s not another arena or fan base that treats players with the respect, the adulteration, the adulation and all the words that you can think of to describe how the fans treat the players here. It’s truly an unique experience.”
Now the Kings will move on to a $500-million plus facility in downtown Sacramento called the Golden 1 Center. The current Kings players are looking forward to that day as well.
“Brand new venue and chance to play build a legacy there?” Gay said. “From what I hear, it’s state of the art. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that.”
By Antonio R. Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer