One of the NBAs charter teams, the Rochester Royals won the league championship in 1951. Later in its history the teams roster included top players such as guard Oscar Robertson and forwards Jack Twyman and Jerry Lucas.
The Rochester Royals were formed in 1945 as a member of the National Basketball League (NBL). The team won the NBL championship during its second year in the league. Before the 1948-49 season, Rochester and three other leading NBL teams moved over to the Basketball Association of America (BAA), a rival league. The NBA was formed the next year from NBL and BAA teams. The Royals compiled a 51-17 win-loss record in the NBAs inaugural 1949-50 season, but the Fort Wayne Pistons defeated them in the playoffs. A season later, the Royals finished second in the Western Division and defeated the Pistons, the Minneapolis Lakers, and the New York Knicks in the playoffs to win the NBA championship.
The NBA introduced the 24-second clock during the 1955-56 season. This sped up play by forcing teams to take a shot within 24 seconds of gaining possession of the ball. The innovation hurt the Royals, whose strategy centered on a slower style of play. The team dropped from prominence, and before the 1957-58 season it moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Losses outnumbered wins in the late 1950s for the Royals, who were led by Jack Twyman, one of the leagues top scorers. In 1960 the team drafted Oscar Robertson. In the 1960-61 season Robertson won NBA rookie of the year honors after leading the league in assists (9.7 per game), finishing third in the league in scoring (30.5 points per game), and averaging 10.1 rebounds per game.
In 1963 the Royals reached the Eastern Division Finals, losing in seven games to the eventual NBA champions, the Boston Celtics. The next season Jerry Lucas joined the team, and the Royals posted a franchise-record 55 wins. In the playoffs, however, they again lost to the Celtics in the Eastern Division Finals. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Royals played under former Celtics star Bob Cousy. As head coach, Cousy implemented a fast-paced, high scoring strategy and drafted star guard Nate Tiny Archibald, but the Royals failed to make the playoffs from 1967 through 1971.
Before the 1972-73 season the Royals were sold to a group of investors from Kansas City, Missouri. The group moved the franchise and renamed it the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. In the 1972-73 season, Archibald had an outstanding year he became the first player to lead the NBA in scoring (34.0) and assists (11.4) in a single season but the club finished last in its division. Four seasons later the team began playing home games solely in Kansas City, becoming the Kansas City Kings. Led by the inspiring play of guard Phil Ford, who was named rookie of the year, the team returned to the playoffs during the 1978-79 season under head coach Cotton Fitzsimmons.
In 1983 the Kings were sold to a group of investors from California, and the franchise moved to Sacramento in 1985. After a 1986 playoff appearance, the Kings failed to reach the playoffs during the late 1980s and early 1990s. During the mid-1990s the Kings outstanding players included guard Mitch Richmond and forwards Brian Grant and Michael Smith. In 1996 the trio led the Kings to their first trip to the playoffs in ten years, but they lost to the Seattle SuperSonics in the first round.