Mar 10

With some interest I've been paying attention to the circus involving the Kings move to Seattle or their stay in Sacramento (seriously, what is being said this minute?). For a while there, it looked liked the team would be sold, be rubber stamped to Seattle and become the new Sonics. A week and a half ago, Sacramento Mayor and former NBA guard Kevin Johnson announced new owners are lining up to buy the franchise and keep them in California's capital city.

If the Kings move, the franchise will tie the Wizards with the most combinations of cities and team names of all current league franchises. That number would be six. Actually, you could almost discount the Wizards from that given they were called the Bullets of Baltimore, Capital and Washington before choosing the "less violent" name of the Wizards in 1997.

The Kings -- or the current Kings, we might say -- are certainly well-traveled. They began in the league's third year as the Rochester Royals. Then made a stop in Cincinnati as the Royals before heading to Kansas City/Omaha and adopting their Kings name in 1972. They dropped the Omaha three years later before heading west to Sacramento in 1985, where they currently find themselves in the midst of their 28th year. Prior to moving to California, they had spent 35 years traveling in search of a permanent home and, perhaps, thinking they'd found one.

Early "Kings:" The 1950 Rochester Royals.

A seldom-mentioned fact is that the NBA originally started out as an 11-team league, known as the Basketball Association of America (BAA), with the 1946-47 season. The name change came prior to the league's fourth season, 1949-50.

The Wizards actually started in Chicago as the Packers and then the Zephyers before heading to the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area. Incidentally, Baltimore had a separate franchise with the Bullets moniker which entered the league in 1947 and folded in 1954. Washington also had a separate franchise, the "Capitals" from 1946 to 1949.

The Hawks are also well-traveled. The Tri-Cities Blackhawks (Moline and Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa) joined the NBA in 1949. They moved to Milwaukee two years later. In 1955 they moved again; this time to St. Louis, before settling in Atlanta in 1968.

Chicago (Stags, Packers/Zephyrs, Bulls) and Indianapolis (Jets, Olympians, Pacers) have been home to three separate teams.

The following cities have housed two or more separate franchises in league history: Charlotte, Detroit, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego Toronto. Additionally, prior to Denver joining the league when the NBA merged with the American Basketball Association (ABA) in 1976, there was another NBA franchise in Denver, also named the Nuggets, which competed in the 1949-50 season.

That's a far cry from the 13 franchises -- the Trail Blazers included -- who have enjoyed one city and one team name throughout their existences. Six of those are at least 10 years younger than the Blazers (and a seventh, the Cavaliers, entered the same year as the Blazers). I might also note here that one NBA team, the Indiana Pacers, have shared the one-city/one-name distinction since their inception in the ABA and continued that through the ABA-NBA merger.

The Blazers are the sixth oldest NBA team to reside in the same city for their entire tenure, starting play at the Memorial Coliseum from 1970 to 1995.

In fact, just two, the Knicks of New York and the Celtics of Boston, share the distinction of being original league franchises to be located in one city without a name change. The only other original league franchise is the Warriors, who began in Philadelphia before crossing the country to San Francisco before settling in Oakland for the 1971-72 season (though, there are those working on a new arena in an effort to move the team back to San Francisco).

For a pretty thorough look at the origins of names of the current NBA teams, click here.

What does this all mean to the Kings? Probably not a thing. But perhaps to the fan, it provides some food for thought as we keep an eye on their current situation.


In Kassandra's Words features periodic blogs throughout the year. Comments and questions are welcome and encouraged. Seasons begin and end; players come and go; our Blazers are forever. Please follow on twitter: @PDXKass


  1. I did not realize some teams have been all over the country. It makes me appreciate the fact that the Blazers have been in Portland since they started.

    by Angi on 3/10/2013 12:24 PM
  2. great article! did not know about all the franchise movement throughout the league

    by CamCripps3 on 3/11/2013 7:10 PM
  3. Kassandra, great history lesson of the NBA, I knew most of the moves, but had forgotten them.
    Wasn't the Warriors also a ABA team? We got Lucus when the American basketball league folded, and I was thinking it was the worriors he played for; nevertheless, I am sure glad we got him

    by Hg on 3/12/2013 6:49 AM
  4. @Angi: i feel the same way about the Blazers. despite there being rumors and rumblings of the team moving at times, it's great we have our original team!

    @CamCropps: it's remarkable to think of all the movement which has gone on -- and i didn't even cover all the teams out there which have relocated. it seems there was much more movement in the first couple of decades of the league than in the most recent couple of decades. i would attribute that to the league getting started and established with solid and reliable host cities.

    @Hg: it would really be hard to keep track of it all, though there are a couple good sites out there which do a pretty effective job of it. We actually got Maurice in the ABA dispersal draft from the Kentucky Colonels, which was one of the teams not absorbed into the NBA during the merger. The Warriors, and least the ones with which we are familiar, have always been an NBA team.

    by Kassandra on 3/12/2013 9:26 AM
  5. I thank you Miss Kassandra.

    by Hg on 3/12/2013 11:07 AM
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