SACRAMENTO — With the Kings moving to their new arena at the start of the 2016 season, Ryan Anderson can now count on one hand how many times he’ll get to play in the building that’s provided him so many fond memories growing up.
He was born and raised in Sacramento, and being a basketball fan in this city meant all roads led to Sleep Train Arena, formerly known as ARCO Arena.
When he was a kid, Anderson got to witness one of the most famous eras in Kings history during the late 1990s and early 2000s, referred to as “The Greatest Show on Court.”
Sacramento made the playoffs eight straight years, and the franchise was built around Chris Webber — one of Anderson’s all-time favorites.
“When I was young — probably junior high — my buddy had a Chris Webber T-shirt on, and after one of the games, we stayed back,” Anderson said. “Chris had an interview and was walking through the tunnel, and everybody was waiting for an autograph. He walked right past everybody, so we started chanting, ‘Webber! Webber! Webber!’ He came back and signed all of our autographs, and I thought that was so cool. It’s just kind of funny just to be walking through that same tunnel right now. I don’t have the crowd of people chanting my name, but it’s still cool walking through the tunnel.”
He didn’t have to wait until he reached the NBA to walk through that tunnel, though.
Anderson put Oak Ridge High School in nearby El Dorado Hills on his back when he was in high school and led the Trojans to some of their most successful years in school history. In 2004-05, he led the team with 17.4 points per game and helped secure the Division II California State Championship.
One of the more notable games of that playoff run came against now San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, in the first round when he played for John H. Pitman High School. It was a two-man show, as Anderson put up 50 points and Kaepernick netted 34 of his own.
“This is always going to be ARCO Arena to me,” Anderson said. “For me growing up, I had so many amazing memories. This is just a special place, and it will always be near and dear to my heart.”
Every offseason, Sacramento is the first place he goes. His parents, grandparents, sister, brother-in-law, and his newly arrived nephew still call California’s state capital their home.
Assuming New Orleans and Sacramento don’t meet in the playoffs any time over the next two seasons, Anderson has only three games left on the hardwood of his hometown arena.
And like the loyal Sacramento native that he is, he’s excited for what the new downtown arena will do for his hometown.
“It’s a great opportunity with this new arena to have a new spark for this city,” Anderson said. “It’s really a positive and amazing thing, and there are only good things coming.”