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Remembering Sam Lacey, Part Of Kansas City's First NBA Team

Cincinnati Royals
© 1971

At a time when the name "Cinderella" will be tossed around in association with teams pulling upsets in the NCAA tournament this week, Sam Lacey was part of what was the biggest Cinderella story in Kansas City pro-basketball history.

Lacey, who would have turned 66 later this month, died last week in Kansas City. A memorial tribute will take place Thursday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Loretto on 39th Street.

When the Kings moved from Cincinnati to Kansas City in 1972, Lacey was part of that first NBA team in Kansas City. His finest hour came in his final full season with the Kings.

After finishing the regular season with a 40-42 record, the Kings upset the Phoenix Suns in the playoffs to reach the Western Conference finals.  Only one more series win and the Kings would make their first appearance in the NBA finals.

But the Houston Rockets denied the Kings the opportunity. Instead, the Rockets played the Boston Celtics in the NBA finals, which the Celtics eventually won in six games in the best-of-seven series.

For Lacey that was the last shot. The next year he was part of a team that was dismantled.  Lacey spent his final two years with the New Jersey Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Lacey, a 6'10" center, is the second key member of the 1980-81 Kings to pass away in the last year.

Joe C. Meriweather, another member of the Kings frontline at 6'10", died on October 13.

Sports have an economic and social impact on our community and, as a sports reporter, I go beyond the scores and statistics. I also bring the human element to the sports figures who have a hand in shaping the future of not only their respective teams but our town. Reach me at gregechlin@aol.com.
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