I could have been a Miami Heat fan—I grew up in South Florida. I could have been a Houston Rockets fan—I went to college in Houston. Now I live in Boston. But I’m a Sacramento Kings fan…and I live with my girlfriend, a Golden State Warriors fan. It’s complicated.
In truth, we’re both secretly fans of the other’s team as well. It’s hard not to be. Klay and Curry have fundamentally changed the NBA, and De’Aaron Fox is rocketing toward super-stardom. Matchups between these NorCal neighbors are consistently spectacular displays of high-octane, fiercely competitive basketball. But in this sibling rivalry, there’s a clear big brother: The Golden State Warriors.
Another Day, Another Klay
Klay Thompson once again reminded us of this with a heartbreaking buzzer-beater that secured victory for his squad in last night’s Kings vs. Warriors game. And as ESPN’s Kendra Andrews reminded us, this was Klay’s 5th “career go-ahead shot in the final 10 seconds of a game…[and] 3 of them have been against the Kings.” The Warriors have already beaten the Kings twice this season, with both games coming right down to the wire.
Many other Kings vs. Warriors games in recent years have been thrilling nail-biters. For that reason, it surprised me to learn just how dominant Klay and Curry’s Warriors have been in regular season matchups against this Sacramento Kings team. Since the 2018-19 season (De’Aaron Fox’s breakout Sophomore season), the Warriors are 15-5 head-to-head with the Kings. It’s also worth pointing out that 3 of those 5 losses came in the 2019-20 season—you know, the season right after Kevin Durant departed, when Klay Thompson missed the entire season, Stephen Curry missed all but 5 games, and the Golden State Warriors finished dead last in the league with a 15-50 record overall.
Big Brother Curry
Continuing to come up just short must be particularly painful this year for the Sacramento Kings, whose first trip to the playoffs in 16 years was cut short last year by the Warriors in a 7-game series that was one of the most entertaining series in recent playoff memory. Despite an impressive regular season campaign that saw them finish 3rd in the West, the Kings just could not crack the code on the Warriors. It’s tough to do so when Curry decides to manipulate the very fabric of reality and break the record for most points ever in an NBA game 7 with 50.
Adding insult to injury, recently Curry was quick to dismiss the Kings as a serious threat, catching himself mid-interview following their win on October 27, 2023: “It’s a great…I wouldn’t call it a rivalry…” Ouch. Sick burn, bro. He’s absolutely right though: Klay and Curry’s Golden State Warriors are still the true kings of NorCal basketball.
The True Kings of NorCal
Still, the Sacramento Kings are a team on the come-up, while the Warriors’ dynasty core is aging out of its prime. It seems only a matter of time until the Kings should be able to overtake their big brothers. De’Aaron Fox seems determined to become even better this year, on the heels of his strongest campaign yet, earning his first All-Star and All-NBA selections last season. He even spent part of the summer training with Steph Curry and recently became the first NBA player to sign a shoe deal with Curry’s brand.
The question is whether Curry has taken Fox under his wing to groom him into becoming the NBA’s next great point guard or if he’s secretly just playing mind games. Curry is one of the all-time greats in on-court taunting. So who’s to say he isn’t just messing with Fox, pulling him aside as if to say, “I’m going to show you exactly how to train, exactly how to get better, and you still won’t be able to beat me”?
Just kidding. Kind of. I mean, just look at that face. If anyone is capable of such hyper-competitive deviousness, it’s Steph.
In any case, I will choose to remain optimistic and believe that all the close losses and frustrations from getting kicked around by the Golden State Warriors will help strengthen the Sacramento Kings and forge them into a group worthy of taking back the NorCal basketball throne. In any case, we can all look forward to at least a few more seasons of adrenaline-fueled Kings vs. Warriors showdowns.