Sacramento Kings

The Kings’ preseason is heavy on international flavor, and not just the trip to India

The Kings’ five-game preseason schedule this year will include two games at Golden 1 Center and two in India.
The Kings’ five-game preseason schedule this year will include two games at Golden 1 Center and two in India. Sacramento Bee file

Ask most sports fans and they’ll say preseason games don’t matter. Just don’t tell that the world’s second-most populous nation.

For the first time, the people of India will be treated to a live sporting event between North American teams when the Kings play two games in Mumbai.

Sacramento will open its 2019 preseason with two contests against the Indiana Pacers on Oct. 4 and 5 at NSCI Dome. First announced in December, Kings owner and chairman Vivek Ranadive is excited to bring the NBA to his homeland.

“The Sacramento Kings are proud to be playing in the first NBA games ever held in India,” Ranadive said when the games were announced. “As an Indian-American, it is an honor to help bring this historic moment to the country where I was raised. The sport is experiencing tremendous growth in India and we are excited about continuing to expand the NBA’s reach to fans across the globe.”

One Kings player has already visited the country in preparation for the historic trip. Forward Harrison Barnes, who returns to the Kings this season on a four-year deal, went to India in late April to speak to youth about the sport while representing the league as part of the Jr. NBA Global Championship, which will hold its finals this month in Orlando, Fla.

“India was a phenomenal experience. It gave me a chance to see the game growing over there,” Barnes told The Bee in May. “Seeing the excitement of the kids who were there that were going to come to the States to play in Orlando and represent their country, that was a big thing.”

The Kings will also host the Phoenix Suns and visit the Utah Jazz. They beat the Suns in Phoenix and lost to the Jazz at Golden 1 Center during last year’s preseason.

Sacramento will close this year’s five-game schedule by hosting Melbourne United of Australia’s National Basketball League, marking the first time the Kings have played an opponent from that continent. It’s the second consecutive season the team has faced international competition in the preseason – the Kings beat Maccabi Haifa of Israel at Golden 1 Center last year.

The Kings went 2-4 last year in preseason play. Included in their six-game schedule was the NBA’s first game in Seattle in 10 years, a 122-94 loss to the Golden State Warriors at KeyArena. The building was the home of the Seattle SuperSonics before the franchise moved in 2008 from the Pacific Northwest city after 44 seasons and became the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Sacramento Kings 2019 preseason schedule

Here is the Kings’ full schedule for the 2019 preseason. All times Pacific.

Friday, Oct. 4: vs. Indiana Pacers in Mumbai, India, 6:30 a.m.

Saturday, Oct. 5: vs. Indiana Pacers in Mumbai, India, 6:30 a.m.

Thursday, Oct. 10: vs. Phoenix Suns, 7 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 14: at Utah Jazz, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 16: vs. Melbourne United, 7 p.m.

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Noel Harris is a sports reporter for The Sacramento Bee, with a focus on the Kings. He’s been in professional journalism for more than 18 years. His roles have included sports editor at The Modesto Bee and news editor at two smaller California newspapers, as well as online producer and copy editor.