The Sacramento Kings have finally ended their 16-year playoff drought, and they did it in style. The Kings clinched the eighth seed in the Western Conference with a 122-117 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on the final day of the regular season, spoiling LeBron James’ return from injury and sending the defending champions to the play-in tournament.
The Kings’ playoff berth was a sweet revenge for the team and their fans, who had to endure a lot of disrespect and mockery from former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Richard Jefferson.
Jefferson, who won a championship with James in Cleveland in 2016, had repeatedly dismissed the Kings’ chances of making the postseason, even calling them “irrelevant” and “a joke” on national television.
Jefferson’s most infamous diss came on April 2, when he tweeted “The Kings will NEVER make the playoffs” after the Kings lost to the Lakers 115-94. The tweet went viral and sparked a lot of backlash from Kings supporters, who vowed to prove him wrong.
The Kings responded by going on a 10-4 run in their final 14 games, including a six-game winning streak that propelled them to the eighth spot. They also beat some of the top teams in the league, such as the Utah Jazz, the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks.
The Kings showed a lot of resilience, grit and chemistry, led by their dynamic backcourt duo of De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, who both had career-best seasons.
The Kings also got contributions from their veteran players, such as Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes and Buddy Hield, as well as their young talents, such as Marvin Bagley III, Terence Davis and Chimezie Metu.
The Kings played with a fast-paced, high-scoring and entertaining style that earned them praise from fans and analysts alike.
The Kings’ playoff clincher was a fitting culmination of their remarkable turnaround. They overcame a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter against the Lakers, with Fox scoring 13 of his 30 points in the final period.
Haliburton added 23 points and 10 assists, while Holmes had 22 points and nine rebounds. The Kings also held James to 25 points on 11-of-26 shooting and forced him to commit five turnovers.
The Kings celebrated their historic achievement with joy and pride, as they hugged each other and thanked their loyal fans at the Golden 1 Center. They also took a jab at Jefferson, who had to eat his words after his bold prediction went wrong.
The Kings’ official Twitter account posted a screenshot of Jefferson’s tweet with the caption “lol” and a crown emoji.
The Kings will now face the top-seeded Jazz in the first round of the playoffs, starting on Saturday. The Jazz have been dominant all season long, finishing with the best record in the league at 60-22.
Final Thoughts: Kings Make Richard Jefferson Eat His Words in 2022 NBA Playoff Diss
The Sacramento Kings’ playoff berth is a remarkable achievement that shows the team’s resilience, talent, and determination. They overcame a lot of adversity, including injuries, inconsistency, and skepticism from critics like Richard Jefferson, to end their 16-year postseason drought.
The Kings played with a fast-paced, entertaining, and cohesive style that made them one of the most exciting teams to watch in the league.
The Kings’ success is due to a combination of factors, including the emergence of their young stars, De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, who showed that they can be elite playmakers and scorers in the league.
The Kings also benefited from the contributions of their veteran players, such as Harrison Barnes and Richaun Holmes, who provided stability, leadership, and production on both ends of the court.
Moreover, the Kings’ coaching staff, led by head coach Luke Walton, deserves credit for instilling a winning culture and game plan that maximized the team’s strengths and minimized their weaknesses.
The Kings played with a lot of confidence, energy, and intensity, especially in the clutch moments, where they outperformed some of the top teams in the league.
The Kings’ playoff berth is not only a source of pride for the team and their fans but also a lesson for critics like Richard Jefferson, who underestimated their potential and disrespected their efforts.
Jefferson’s tweet, which claimed that the Kings would “NEVER” make the playoffs, is a reminder that predictions are not guarantees and that every team has the ability to surprise and exceed expectations.
In the end, the Kings’ playoff berth is a testament to the power of perseverance, teamwork, and belief. The Kings proved that they are not irrelevant or a joke, but a legitimate playoff contender that can challenge any team in the league.
The Kings’ journey is far from over, but their achievement is worth celebrating and cherishing. As the saying goes, “the journey is the reward,” and the Kings’ journey has been a memorable and inspiring one.