Updated March 29, 9:12 p.m.:
The beam is lit.
The Sacramento Kings ended the longest playoff drought in NBA history Wednesday, clinching a spot with a 120-80 win over the Trail Blazers in Portland.
The Beam Team put an end to its infamous 16-year long playoff drought, which was the longest active streak of any major sports team in the nation. The last time the Kings appeared at a playoff game was in 2006, and the team hasn't won a playoff series since 2004.
The Kings entered this season with low expectations — the 538 website gave the team just a 13% chance to make the playoffs before the season began. Instead, the Kings under first-year coach Mike Brown have already won 46 games and sit third in the Western Conference as of Wednesday.
And their success on the court wasn’t the only thing that set the team apart this season: The Kings added a massive set of LED lasers atop the Golden1 Center, shooting a giant purple light into the sky whenever the team wins, at home or away. “The Beam,” as it’s been lovingly named, has captivated Kings fans and Sacramentans alike, sparking memes and nicknames like “The Beam Team.”
Though the historic win happened in Portland, many Sacramento Kings fans were seen inside the Trail Blazers home court, the Moda Center. Tickets to catch this game started at $6 — before taxes and Ticketmaster fees — and some fans seized the opportunity to see the Beam Team clinch in-person.
The Kings have had several shots to secure this spot in the playoffs, most recently on Monday night. The Kings fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Golden1 Center, delaying their playoff drought by several more days. The loss was taken hard by fans, many of whom were hoping to see the team break this historic record at home, some gathering outside the arena.
Playoffs calculus is somewhat complicated, but: The NBA divides its 30 teams into two conferences — western and eastern — and eight teams from each conference make the playoffs. Though the season hasn’t ended yet, the Kings have so many wins that other teams cannot statistically catch up to them, which is how they’re able to clinch this spot with more than six games remaining.
The Kings are the third team in the West to land a guaranteed spot in the playoffs, joining the Denver Nuggets and the Memphis Grizzlies.
The first round of the NBA postseason begins on April 15. The Kings franchise also has the longest championship drought of any NBA team, last winning in 1951 as the Rochester Royals.
Follow us for more stories like this
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.