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What was happening the last time the Sacramento Kings made the NBA playoffs

The Sacramento Kings are in the midst of one of the longest playoff droughts in the history of professional sports. In the last decade, 29 NBA teams have reached the postseason at least once with Sacramento the lone franchise to see its season end every year at the end of the regular-season schedule.

For nearly two decades, the Kings’ fan base has only ever been excited about the NBA Draft lottery. While there were moments of optimism, Sacramento’s NBA team never even delivered a winning record or 40 wins during the 2010s.

Related: Longest playoff droughts ever

It’s even more painful for a fan base that hasn’t experienced the NBA Finals since the Kings moved to Sacramento in 1985. Fans who experienced the controversial 2002 Western Conference Finals likely imagined that would be the most emotionally challenging experience as a sports fan.

Instead, that was just an appetizer for the emotionally-draining experience that supporters of the Kings would experience in the decades to come. After going through a dozen coaches and countless frustrations in the draft lottery, the Kings’ playoff drought could soon be over.

When did the Sacramento Kings last go to the playoffs?

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Sacramento Kings
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings last made the playoffs in 2006. Sacramento earned the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference after finishing the 2005’06 NBA season with a 44-38 record. It was also the last time, prior to 2023, that the Kings won 40 games in a season before clinching a winning record in a win over the Brooklyn Nets on March 16.

Sacramento faced the No. 1-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. San Antonio jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, winning both games at home. The Kings won Game 2 on a game-winning layup by Kevin Martin as time expired.

The Kings last playoff win came on April 20, 2002, at Arco Arena. Sacramento defeated San Antonio 102-84, heading into Game 5 with a 2-2 series split. However, the Spurs won the next two games, ending the Kings’ season and launching them into a 16-year playoff drought.

What was happening the last time the Sacramento Kings made the playoffs?

NBA: Rookie Portraits 2005
Aug 10, 2005; USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Chris Paul (3) poses for an NBA Rookie portrait. Credit: Lou Capozzola-USA TODAY NETWORK

The Kings played in their last playoff game on May 5, 2006, with the NBA playoffs marking just over 17 years since Sacramento appeared in the NBA playoffs. Needless to say, a lot of things happened during that and it’s even more evident when you examine what was going on before and during that Kings-Spurs playoff series.


Months prior to Sacramento hosting its last playoff game, the New Orleans Hornets drafted 20-year-old point guard Chris Paul with the fourth pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. While Paul was one of the best prospects in that draft class, few could’ve imagined he would still be playing in the NBA 17 years later during a stretch when Sacramento never reached the playoffs.

Just two months before the Kings played in their last playoff games, Hines Ward led the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 21-10 victory over Matt Hasselbeck and the Seattle Seahawks. It was just Ben Roethlisberger’s second season in the NFL. During that same season, Shaun Alexander won NFL MVP and Shawne Merriman won Defensive Rookie of the Year. Just six days before Arco Arena hosted its last playoff game, Mario Williams and Reggie Bush were the top picks in the NFL Draft.

Major Events in the United States and across the globe

While a lot happened in sports during that 2005-’06 NBA season, the Kings’ playoff drought feels even longer when you compare it to historic moments that were going on around that time.

Just months after Sacramento made the playoffs, legendary TV personality and zookeeper Steve Irwin, aka ‘The Crocodile Hunter’, died in Australia after a stingray’s barb punctured his heart killing him at the age of 44 years old.

Related: Sacramento Kings draft picks 2023

Less than three months before the 2005-’06 NBA season, New Orleans was left devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Many remember 2006 for a variety of reasons. It’s the year Pluto was no longer declared a planet, while Borat and Cars were two of the top movies at the box office. Meanwhile, Google bought YouTube and Apple was still a year away from introducing the world to the iPhone. As for entertainment, Carrie Underwood won the fourth season of American Idol just three weeks after the Kings were eliminated from the playoffs.

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