If you wanted to know what it was like to be at the Sacramento Kings first playoff game in 17 years Saturday night, I can tell you the fans were so loud you couldn’t hear the player introductions. And for anyone who knows team announcer Scott Moak, he’s known for his loud, booming voice. Even star player De’Aaron Fox mouthed to Coach Michael Brown “I can’t hear you” when the coach tried to yell instructions.
Sports fans around the U.S. were introduced to Sacramento last weekend (the team had only two nationally televised games all season) and what they saw was a fan base that outrivaled the Golden State Warriors — which is saying a lot since the Warriors won the NBA championship last year and have won four altogether since 2014. On a perfect spring weekend afternoon, fans flooded the Downtown Commons area as early as noon for the 5:30 p.m. game. By 3 p.m., fans lucky enough to get tickets were standing in line outside the Golden 1 Center even though doors didn’t open until 4 p.m. Those without seats stood outside for three hours, watching the game projected on three giant screens in what the Kings called “Section 916” in DOCO.
“It was incredible all night. When guys ran out for layup line, I think how loud it got in there, I think everyone got chills. That was pretty special just for us, just to see the excitement everybody had,” said player Harrison Barnes, who scored 13 points, including a clutch 3-pointer in the final minutes. “Guys were playing off that adrenaline all night.”
Inside, the arena was awash in white as “Feel the Roar” T-shirts were distributed to fans, an opaque backdrop for a flood of purple lights and golden fireworks that lit up the arena right before tipoff. The next three hours were a fan frenzy as the team battled the champs. In the final four minutes, when the score was close, gunslinging broke out with the Warriors’ sharpshooter Steph Curry trading threes with the Kings’ Fox and Barnes. Fox finished with 38 points in his playoffs debut followed by Malik Monk off the bench with 32.
“Our fans were off the charts. It was deafening in there. It was extremely loud. So you’ve got to take your hat off to them, because they brought it,” Kings Coach Mike Brown said at the post-game news conference. “You could feel the energy.”
The Cinderella season had a storybook ending with the Kings winning their first playoff game in 17 years. Fans waved their arms and screamed “Light the Beam!” Fox and team owner Vivek Ranadive had the honors of lighting it, and DOCO became the biggest party in town Saturday night. But unlike other fairy tales, this one is not one and done. The Kings face the Warriors again tonight before heading to San Francisco for two more matchups there.
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