Kings Reflect on First Game Inside Golden 1 Center
Out of context, the game between the Sacramento Kings and Maccabi Haifa on Monday night was just a preseason game. However, for the Sacramento faithful, it was something much, much bigger.
The Kings finally got to take the floor on their new home court.
As one might expect, their initial impressions of hitting the hardwood for the very first time were enthusiastic.
“It was very exciting,” All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins said to media following the Kings 135-96 win over Maccabi Haifa. “To be able to play in front of the fans - they were just as energetic as if we were in the old building.
“[It was] great to be in front of that crowd and have those guys cheering us on,” Cousins added.
For the last three years, the River City has waited anxiously for basketball to make its debut in the new downtown complex. Monday’s preseason game may have been just a soft opening, but Golden 1 Center met many’s expectations, including members of the Kings coaching staff.
“It was super.” head coach Dave Joerger said after the victory. “Unbelievable [for] players, coaches, everybody. The facility’s just unbelievable and certainly [being] out there was just fantastic.”
Golden 1 Center features a host of distinctive elements that make it the most elite sports and entertainment venues in the world. That, along with the support of Kings fans Monday evening, were at the top of Kosta Koufos’ evaluation of playing in the brand new building for the first time.
“There’s a lot of features to it that make it unique in itself,” the ninth-year center told Kings.com. “The fan base for the first preseason game was awesome and I think it’s going to do wonders for us, especially during the season.”
Getting out on the court brought a sense of nostalgia for some long-tenured members of the Kings. Considering the uphill battle Sacramento faced to build the arena in the first place, being out on the court, even for a preseason game, was a special experience.
Omri Casspi is one such player who witnessed both highs and lows in the efforts to build the brand new arena downtown. For the 28-year-old forward, who’s entering his fifth season with the Kings, stepping foot onto the venue’s floor in Monday’s exhibition held extra meaning.
“It was great,” echoed No. 18. “Our city and our fans deserved it. Adding, that “it’s a long time coming and I can’t wait for opening.”
To view photos from the team’s preseason home opener, click here.