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On the Sacramento Kings’ to-do list of creating interest in this year’s team, the first was a rip-roaring good time this past Saturday at Arco Arena.
The “Box Office Party” was the opening salvo in a barrage of activities the Kings are planning for community outreach and awareness during the upcoming season. And with the Kings Dance Team, some players and a free hot dog on tap for anyone purchasing a ticket for a future game, the preseason optimism, compared to recent years, is sky high.
The word of the day was “exciting,” and it seemed to be gushing out of everyone’s mouths: fans, players and Kings’ personnel alike.
Joe Crawford, a second-year guard out of Kentucky who is trying to make this year’s roster, was happy to be there, with a message for the remarkable Kings fans.
“We just came out here to show people we are excited about the upcoming year, and we are going to give it our all,” he said.
Crawford’s enthusiasm was easy to see as he was one of several Kings players who signed autographs, mingled with the crowd and even served hot dogs to some hungry fans.
Joseph Smith is a long-time Kings fan who has been a season ticket holder since 2002. Smith, who normally has his wife Rhonda and son Steven with him when involved in anything Kings, had to come out alone. Even though he was on a solo mission, it was the least he could do to show his appreciation for a team that he is very much looking forward to seeing perform.
“I came to celebrate the new team and meet some of the new players, the Kings dance squad and get to know the team better,” Smith said. “We’ve got a good group of young players now, a good core, and I know they are going in the right direction. I’m looking forward to the excitement and the anticipation of the new season. They’re going to do well this year.”
Paul Kornowski is another fan with a positive outlook. When asked why he was in attentance, he was quick to respond.
“Kings tickets, baby!” Kornowski exclaimed. “(Geoff) Petrie has done everything he can in rebuilding this team. You try and get the best players and the best bang for the buck.”
Sacramento resident Joyce Bezazian was hoping to see one of the new giants on the team in DeMarcus Cousins. Even though Cousins wasn’t available for her perusal, she still had a great time in coming out to support her team.
“I already have my tickets, so I thought I would check it out,” she said.
Mitch Germann, the Kings vice president of marketing and communications, discussed how the day shaped up.
“It’s a nice turnout,” he said. “There was a long line of people when we got here this morning. We started selling tickets at noon, but had people lining up outside at 9:30 or 10 today. People are excited about the upcoming season, and it’s translating into a good turnout at an event like the one today.”
Germann was right. The positive vibe was felt throughout the crowd, and the players in attendance were energized about what they saw.
Antoine Wright, another of the players on the training camp roster hoping to be on the final roster going into opening day, has been through this before. And given he is gearing up for his sixth season in the league, he is still eager to show the dedicated Sacramento fan base what this team can offer.
“It shows the fans that you want to give back and that you are excited about the upcoming season and to show them we care that they are here supporting us,” Wright said.
Excited. It kept creeping out of people’s mouths. So much so that Wright had a hard time containing his eagerness to show what this team has to offer.
“I’m excited about it,” Wright said about the fans’ first chance to see the team play on Sunday. “It’s going to be the first open practice for the public so they can get a look and see the improvements we’ve made as a team.”
Connor Atchley, a rookie out of Texas who is trying to make the team based on his outstanding perimeter shooting, truly understands the effect the fans can have on the entire situation and thinks this stop on the tour was an important one.
“You want to make sure you get to know the people because they are the ones that will be you and come support you,” Atchley said. “Without them, you really don’t have a Sacramento Kings team.”
Pooh Jeter, a player oozing with positive energy, could hardly contain himself again on this day.
“This is great!” Jeter exclaimed. “It’s a good time for us to mingle and get to know our fans because it’s going to be a long year. We will be able to see each other all year, and I like to know faces and be familiar with people.”
This event is just one in a long line of promotions the Kings management will stage for the die-hard fans of the community. After Sunday’s open practice, there are 23 scheduled stops that the “Kings Karavan,” a Kings-branded bus carrying the Kings Dance Team members, the Kings Breakers, Slamson and occasional special guests, will make across the area. With the first stop at a Subway restaurant in Stockton on Sunday, the expedition will continue all the way until Oct. 27 when the tour is scheduled for its last stop at a Carl’s Jr. in Woodland.
With events scheduled all month long, even before the regular season has begun, the Kings continue to lead the way in embracing the fans of the region and finding ways to extract the most enthusiasm out of this community.
For the full schedule of the Kings Karavan, check out the Kings website here.
Photos courtesy of Mark Needham
#1 Omri Casspi w/ fan
#2 Carol Dean, Tamera Howard & Lula English
#3 Joe Crawford & Connor Atchley w/ fan
#4 Beno Udrih signing for fan
#5 Udrih, Donald Sloan & Tyreke Evans
#6 Joyce Bezazian
#7 Lining up early for tickets
#8 Kings Dance Team
#9 "At the Window"
#10 Kings television play-by-play man Grant Napear
#11 Kings Game Night Host Scott Freshour
#12 Curtis Anderson w/ family
#13 Andrew MacDonald
#14 Udrih & Sloan
#15 "Come Inside"
#16 Crawford signing
#17 Evans signing
#18 Kings Karavan Bus