While neither team has enjoyed much success lately, both rosters are loaded with talented young players that should restore both franchises to prominence.
As the Lakers and Kings set to face off in the 2017-18 season, we look back at the top 10 moments from this matchup:
10. De’Aaron Fox vs. Lonzo Ball
LaVar Ball, father of Lonzo, was outspoken on his son’s superiority to Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, who was in the discussion for the second guard to go off the board after Washington’s Markelle Fultz. The rivalry emerged during the NCAA Tournament, and ironically, both guards went to rival franchises in California. The two guards have the ability to renew this once-heated rivalry.
9. Kobe plays last game in Sacramento
Although the rivalry reached a fever pitch, Kobe Bryant’s last game in Sacramento–January 8, 2016–was more of a lovefest. Kings fans showered the hated Bryant with cheers, as he scored 28 points in 31 minutes. The ovation showed appreciation for the vast entertainment provided during a heated series of the early 2000s.
8. Lakers win lopsided deciding game
During the Lakers’ championship run in 2000, the team blasted the Kings in a hotly-contested opening 5-game series. The 113-86 Game 5 win set the stage for a matchup that would intensify in the following years.
7. Peja struggles in Game 7
Peja Stojakovic was a leading man for the Kings during their epic 7-game run in 2002, but his disappearance in Game 7 will be one of the lasting images from that series. Peja finished shooting 3-for-12, and missed all six of this three-point attempts in a game that went to overtime.
6. Kobe’s dominance
During the 2001 Western semifinals, Kobe Bryant asserted his claim as one of the game’s greats. He erupted for 36 and 48 points in Games 3 and 4, respectively. In many ways, Kobe took the torch from Shaq during that season–and would go on to finish his storied 20-year career with the franchise.
5. Mike Bibby hits winner
Back in an era where defenses were smothering, Kings guard Mike Bibby gave the Kings a 3-2 series advantage when he knocked down a 20-foot jumper from the right wing with 8.2 seconds left. Rick Adelman designed a brilliant play out of the timeout, which gave Bibby a clear look at the rim. Kobe Bryant would subsequently miss a contested jumper to finish the game, 92-91.
4. Controversy emerges
Many, including Chris Webber and disgraced referee Tim Donaghy, have asserted that Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals was fixed. Often a sour grapes excuse, the Kings held a 3-2 series lead and had a chance to get to the NBA Finals. The Lakers shot 27 free-throws (a sizeable amount for a game) in the fourth quarter alone that night. The Lakers wound up winning Game 6 and then Game 7 in overtime, capping an epic series.
3. Shaq heightens rivalry
Before Shaquille O’Neal became a part owner and consultant with the Sacramento Kings, he was a vocal critic. As a player, Shaq upped the ante during those heated 2000’s matchups. He said the following:
“We're not worried about the Sacramento Queens. Not at all. I'm not gonna be doing this all year, going back and forth with them. Nobody cares that we won last year, this is a new year, so we just need to focus on a new year. Like I said, I'm not worried about the Sacramento Queens. Write it down, take a picture, send it to them. I don't care.”
2. Fight in the tunnel
Who can forget the image of Doug Christie and Rick Fox fighting in the tunnel during a 2002 preseason game? Preseason game! That’s how much these two teams disliked each other. That scene was symbolic of the rivalry.
1. Robert Horry saves Lakers
The Kings looked to be the new heirs to the throne in the 2002 Western Conference Finals, but Robert Horry lived up to the nickname, “Big Shot Bob.” Down 2-1 in the series and facing an almost insurmountable hole, Horry drilled a three-pointer from straightaway. The whole play was improbable, as the Lakers missed two shots at the rim, and Kings center Vlade Divac tapped the rebound directly to Horry. The Lakers would go on to win their third straight championship.