1985. Ronald Reagan was in his second term in the White House. Live Aid rocked on both sides of the Atlantic, raising money to fight famine in Africa. Michael J. Fox turned a DeLorean into a time machine in Back to the Future.
And Reggie Theus was a King — a Sacramento King, that is.
Entering his eighth season in the NBA, Theus already had been an All-Star two times. Yet in 1985, he helped usher in an era of basketball frenzy in California’s capital when the Kings moved there from Kansas City, Mo., and Theus played on the city’s inaugural season. The distinction of being on that team is near and dear to the heart of the second-year CSUN men’s basketball coach.
“It’s very special to me because I made the first basket in Sacramento Kings history,” Theus said.
Fast forward 30 seasons, and the city is celebrating that team again. With the grand opening of the Sleep Train Arena on Oct. 29, the organization brought back its Original 1985 Legends, with Theus invited to celebrate the evening with several of his former teammates.
“This celebration is part of history, and that will never go away,” he said.
Theus played three high-scoring seasons in Sacramento after the club’s move from Kansas City. As a member of the Kings, Theus dished out at least eight assists per game three times and averaged 20 points per game twice. He and Magic Johnson are the only players over 6-foot-6 with 750 assists or more in a season.
The team and the city forged a special relationship, as the NBA franchise is the only professional sports team in the region. The Kings played in front of sellout crowds at 497 consecutive games for more than 12 seasons, one of the highest sellout streaks in NBA history. After a time, opposing teams expected to have their ears ringing from the decibel level in the arena, especially because Kings fans made it a habit to bang cowbells from the opening tipoff. Theus was there at the start of the connection between team and city, which is why he will forever have fond memories of his three seasons in Sacramento.
“It always brings back memories when you start talking about that 1985 team,” Theus said. “The fans were so crazy about basketball and excited about having a professional team in Sacramento. The relationship we had with the community there was enormous. It’s an honor to be asked to be part of the event.”