Kings relieved to end playoff drought, but here’s what they really want for their fans

·3 min read
Xavier Mascareñas/

Kings coach Mike Brown keeps reiterating that making the playoffs was always the expectation, not the goal.

Brown has been searching for the right words to explain to a long-suffering Sacramento fanbase that he shares the city’s excitement, but just getting to the playoffs isn’t enough.

Brown found those words after the Kings clinched a playoff berth — and homecourt advantage — with a 120-80 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday at Moda Center, ending the longest playoff drought in NBA history after 16 consecutive losing seasons.

“The fans have been phenomenal,” Brown said. “The electricity they bring, not just to Golden 1 Center, but even when we’re walking around out in the streets, out in public, the fans have been great. They are sure deserving of this.

“I know, not only myself, but we want to give them a lot more than we’ve given them so far already because they’re more than deserving of it. When you have a fanbase that’s as intelligent, rabid and passionate about not only their team, but their city, too, you can feel that it’s a prideful thing. You just want the world for them and you’re excited about it. We want them to celebrate, but we also know they expect more from us and we expect to hopefully give them more.”

The Kings had the longest active playoff drought in North American professional sports, but not anymore. That dubious distinction now belongs to the New York Jets, who haven’t reached the NFL playoffs since 2010.

“It feels good to get that horse off your back,” Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “We want to do bigger things, but to get 16 years — that’s a long time — so I think it feels great just being able to get that off of us.”

Fox paused for a moment when asked if ending the drought was more a feeling of accomplishment or relief.

“I guess it would be relief,” Fox said. “People can’t keep saying it. It’s over and done with. … It feels great. I think just coming into it, knowing that was kind of a burden that you wanted to just get off your chest, definitely grateful to be a part of that. Ever since Mike’s gotten here and the talent we’ve brought in, the guys we’ve brought in, everybody has bigger aspirations than that, but it definitely feels great to be a part of that.”

The playoffs will begin April 15. The Kings will play Game 1 of their first-round series at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. Those fortunate enough to score tickets will be happy to be there, but the Kings have bigger aspirations.

“We know what our goal is and it’s not just to make the playoffs, it’s to make some noise there,” Kings guard Malik Monk said. “So (Brown congratulated) us, but he told us we know what we need to do.”

What does Brown want?

“From the beginning, I wanted our guys to believe that it wasn’t just our goal to make the playoffs,” Brown said. “Hey, let’s be like everybody else. Let’s try to win a championship just like everybody else. That’s why we’re doing this.”