Over the past few years, I've been privileged to be a part of many great events put together by Here We Stay and other local grassroots movements to keep the team here. Saturday night was up there among the best of them.
I arrived at the game around 5 to already find a bunch of fans gathered in the parking lot for a tailgate. To an outside observer who had no idea what was going on, it must have looked like fans were prepping for a playoff game, not a matchup between a 17 win Kings team and a good but not great Jazz club. Most prominent among the fans at the event were StR's own Kevin Fippin, Ed Montes and Mike Tavares. Kevin and Ed were everywhere, doing media interviews everywhere, from 1140 to News10 to even KQED in San Francisco. Kevin and Ed were HUGELY responsible for putting this event together, especially the donation drive where we raised almost $10,000 to send over 600 kids to the game. I know they don't do it for praise or attention, but I'm going to give it to them anyway because they deserve it.
I also got to meet a lot of great people from StR at the event, some that I had met before (Muff209, Chris the Greek, KingsFanInPortland, VenomySnicket, ChristinaJ, vfettke) and some I met for the first time (Crocoduck, jveesy, swoosh91, thantsblants). Many people that I talked to had come from great distances just to be at the game. It was awesome seeing all of you.
Mike was great with rallying the Crown Downtown folks as well and organizing them into a big contingent in Sections 117/118, which made starting chants a lot easier. The chants both before, during and after the game were awesome. The whole crowd got into it, and it's something that needs to keep happening each and every game for the rest of the season, and hopefully, for many more seasons.
The crowd was electric right from the beginning, starting off the game with a raucous "SAC-RA-MEN-TO" chant around the arena. The team fed off that energy from the get go and got off to a great start, which just fired up the crowd even more. Most games have their highs and lows for fan energy, but not this night. From tip-off to 30 minutes AFTER the game, the crowd wouldn't, and couldn't stop. When Thornton threw that alley-oop to JT for the monster slam and-one, I thought the roof was going to blow off. It gave me deja vu of the first Here We Stay night back in 2011, when Thornton threw this alley-oop to Omri Casspi.
Despite the structure to the game that we as organizers were providing (chants, signs, etc.) it was the impromptu and unforced acts that stood out. For instance, the wave in the fourth quarter. Normally, I detest the wave, so the first couple times it went around the stadium, I ignored it and cringed a little bit. But it gained a life of its own and at the end, I was doing it, the Kings players on the bench were doing it, and it lasted a good 5+ minutes before it petered out. Then, to add to it, the crowd broke out into some of the loudest "HERE WE STAY" chants of the night.
It didn't stop after the game was over either. A sizable amount of fans stayed in their seats and kept up the chants for a good long while. Ed quipped on twitter that he didn't think Grant and Jerry were going to be able to do their post-game show because of all the fans standing and cheering behind them. I could still hear chants from those still in attendance during the radio post-game, and hear the smile in Gary Gerould's voice.
Unlike some in the national media may think, Here We Buy night was not fans coming out thinking that with this one night we were going to save the Kings. It was about coming together as a community, showing our support of the team we love, and showing the nation that despite everything, we're still here and as passionate as ever. We know we still need an arena plan and buyers to be announced. We know that in the end it will be the money that talks, but we're not going to sit idly by and do nothing. Saturday night was proof that Sacramento's fans are still the best in the league and we're not going anywhere.
Please feel free to share your own stories from the night in the comments below.