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I'm not going to lie: after attending Kings game in recent years and watching a lot of NBA basketball on TV, I remain pretty convinced that there is a Muzak station called "NBA Arenas," and all teams use it for their in-arena music. In heavy rotation it has "Seven Nation Army," various hip hop beats and the unavoidable CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP. My kingdom for a game in which the familiar "Everybody clap your hands!" rings out and everybody just offers a brief round of appropriate applause before going back to paying attention to the game.
I know why NBA teams thrust so much music at us: they don't want us to be bored for even a second. But I'm a stickler type that thinks there's no reason to be bored while the ball is in play. And if you are bored -- like, if you're not a huge basketball fan but are attending a game -- you have a smartphone, in all likelihood. Let's allow for individual entertainment during those moments of in-play ennui instead of thrusting overstimulation at everyone in the gym. (I'll allow an exception for "de-fense!" chants.)
So this is my thought on music at Sleep Train: there's an awful lot of it. I'm all for filling the idle seconds during timeouts, reviews, intermissions. But I really could do without so much of it during play. That said, I don't think in-play music is going away, so some suggestions.
1. "De-fense!" chants are part and parcel of the basketball experience. It's almost basketball's "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." We get up to 20 seconds to really encourage our team to put in the effort and execution necessary to deny the other team points. It's a beautiful thing! But I do wonder if the steady heartbeat that an arena bellowing the chant helps the opposing offense. Couldn't we really throw them off not by screaming rhythmically, but by screaming arrhythmically? Like, just random AAAAAAAAAAAHS during their offensive possessions? Maybe play the screaming bits from Kanye's new song "I Am a God." (Actually, play anything from Kanye's new album. That will throw them off.) It's almost like Mark Cuban's theory that the thundersticks proffered during opponent free throws don't hurt much; it'd be much better to do something disruptive. That can apply to the normal defense chant.
2. Get more geeks interested in the sport by using Final Fantasy themes as intro music. Sorry, Scott Moak, but you're going to have to introduce Jason Thompson over a violin solo.
3. No more "Seven Nation Army." Please.
4. I'm dubious that live music is feasible inside the arena on a gameday -- the Maloofs' experiment with using a band for player intros didn't go well, and the halftime musical acts tend to be treacly pop that require little to no set-up and prep. But what about outside the arena before the game? Having a local band out there jamming might get people out to the gym a little early and build a different vibe. Plus, the bands get exposure with a group that would rather be at a basketball game than a bar concert. (And it doesn't have to be "a band" -- a local DJ or hip hop group would work, too.
5. I know it's a longshot, but a college-style pep band would be amazing. One of the pro teams is going to have to try this out eventually, right?
These are my thoughts on music at Sleep Train Arena. What are yours?