From 1957-1972, the Royals called Cincinnati home. During their first year in the Queen City, they ended a two-year playoff drought and landed third place with a record of 33-39. That same year, in their last regular season game, the force to be reckoned with rebounder Maurice Stokes suffered a serious head injury, which eventually led to his permanent hospitalization at age 24. Royals teammate Jack Twyman went on to become Stokes’ legal guardian, organizing benefit games to help pay the medical bills as Stokes adjusted to life as a quadriplegic. Stokes died in 1970, and in 2004, Twyman was granted the honor of inducting him into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2013, the NBA created the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award in honor of their noteworthy friendship that extended far beyond the court.
In addition to the cornerstone of brotherhood and perseverance the team was built upon, the Royals represent homegrown talent. In 1960, University of Cincinnati graduate Oscar Robertson was drafted to the team and was later named Rookie of the Year. Robertson was elected to the All-NBA First Team every year during his first nine seasons with the Royals. In the 1961-62 season, he became the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season, with 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists. Robertson was a Royal powerhouse, and rightly earned his title as NBA MVP in 1964.
Although the team boasted eight hall-of-famers, five All-Star Game MVPs, and seven playoff appearances, the Royals never won a championship. The team was eventually moved to Kansas City, where they became the Omaha Kings. The first and only child of Cincinnati’s NBA lifespan, the Royals left behind a short yet powerful history deserving of commemoration.