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Today in Sports History: 3/14 – Cincinnati Royals Move to Kansas City

Today in sports history (1972), the Cincinnati Royals relocated their team to Kansas City. After moving to Kansas City, the Royals changed their name to the Kings, to avoid confusion with the Kansas City Royals baseball team.

The team was dubbed as the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. This was due to the Kings splitting their time between the two host cities for their home games. Omaha became a destination for possible expansion or relocation. This was especially prevalent with this franchise. From 1972-74, the Kings played 42 regular season contests in Omaha, but no playoff games. The Kings would make one more move in their team’s history resulting in them landing in Sacramento.

TinyArchibald Sacramento Kings
Credit: Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images

Kansas City Enjoys Limited Success

During the 1972-73 season, NBA superstar “Tiny” Nate Archibald lead the league in both scoring and assists. Tom Van Arsdale, Johnny Green, Matt Guokas, Toby Kimball and Jimmy Walker were all players who stopped for a visit with the Kings. With the talent, the Kings returned to the playoffs in the second year of the mid-west experience. Archibald was eventually traded and the Kings failed on a lot of their early draft picks as compensation.

Cotton Fitzsimmons came to coach the team in the early ’80s. This gave fans some hope, as it felt like this team had swimming in purgatory for most of the ’70s and ’80s. Rookie guard and North Carolina standout Phil Ford won rookie of the year. Otis Birdsong, Sam Lacey and Scott Wedman were all a part of an up-and-coming team in Kansas City. The Kings went on to make the playoffs a handful of more times, before moving once again in 1985, moving to Sacramento. The Ford, Birdsong, Wedman, Lacey team also caught some snags, as Wedman and Birdsong moved on to Cleveland. All in all, this stop for the Kings on their NBA journey was one that was beneficial. The Kings were able to boost attendance and revenue by splitting their time between the two cities, as well as gain more fan interest, now that Oscar Robertson is gone.

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