Folsom ticket holders reflect on “surreal” energy as Kings defeat Warriors to take playoff lead
The price of gas was $2.59, the iPhone hadn’t even seen its first generation, Twitter had just launched and King’s forward Keegan Murray was just six years old the last time the Sacramento Kings were amidst a playoff run.
Yes, it’s a fact that many things have changed since 2006 when Sacramento last experienced the thrill of the NBA playoffs. However, one key thing has undoubtedly stayed the same through the years – the purple pride of the local fans
That was evident once again Monday afternoon as the sold-out crowd and then some flocked to downtown Sacramento for game to of the NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors. A sold-out event, thousands didn’t even have tickets and they still showed up to show their support, packing areas of the Downton Commons and the streets around Golden 1 Center.
For the second time in less than a week, the street in front of Golden One Center was closed to traffic in an effort to accommodate the energized crowd and welcome them as they braved the chilly evening air to celebrate with fellow fans. Bannered as Section 916, the outdoor area featured large monitors to allow fans that couldn’t get inside the arena to still engage in the electric energy their beloved team has brought the community during the 2022-2023 season.
When it came to the action and energy inside the arena, the term electric would be an understatement. The last time the Sacramento Kings were amidst a playoff series was in 2006. Back then, the Sacramento fans were known as some of the loudest and most energized across the nation. Fast forward to today, a similar scene is playing out on a much bigger stage with the volume that is nearly 18,000 strong inside the arena alone.
P.J. Petersen of Folsom has been attending Sacramento Kings games for most of his adult life. Monday night, he was in awe of the crowd already surrounding the arena as he stood in line to attend his very first playoff game.
“Being there for a playoff game was on another level. From the crowd out front waiting for the doors to open, all the way through the fourth quarter horn going off, everyone was amped up and pumped to be there,” said Petersen. “The Kings definitely unite the city, and you can feel that in the Golden 1 Center.”
As if Saturday’s first game wasn’t enough when it game to fan enthusiasm and energy as the King’s faced the defending champion Golden State Warriors, Monday brought it to an entirely different level.
The King’s entered the game with a 1-0 lead in the series and faced a team that isn’t known to lay down when they find themselves on the lower end of a scoreboard. Fans watched a game that kept them on the edge of theirs seats, that was if they were among the few that weren’t standing on their feet to form a sea of white and purple, cheering with every play.
“You truly feel like every possession is the last possession of the game,” added Petersen. “It’s something to not be able to hear yourself think with 18,000 people going nuts and showing their passion.”
Bryan Greenwalt was another Folsom resident inside Golden 1 Arena Monday night. For Greenwalt, it wasn’t the first playoff game he was at. He recalls the emotional run he watched the Kings in their last playoff bout that seems like a lifetime ago for local fans.
“I was there for the1996 playoffs, Bibby’s game winner in the 2002 playoffs and remember sitting in my seat in tears after they lost game seven that same year,” said Greenwalt. “There have been a large number of amazing moments throughout the years.”
Greenwalt attends Sacramento Kings games on a regular basis as well as other games at other arenas. He has witnessed and been part of, the roar, the fans are known for, in the old arena and the new.
“It has always been and continues to be the loudest arena with passionate fans and it’s an emotional event like no other,” said Greenwalt, who was one row from the very top of the arena and said the energy is felt at all levels. “It’s just surreal to be a part of that energy. It was still one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever been able to give my daughters.”
Before the fourth quarter event came to a close Monday night, fans were loudly chanting to “Light the Beam” inside and outside the arena as their team powered its way to the top of a rollercoaster match up that ended with a 114-106 victory.
For those few in the region that may not known by now, at the end of every win, the Kings project a huge purple beam into the sky, in what has lately become a part of the King’s franchise culture and brought excitement across the city to even those that aren’t sports fans, even those that get up and go back to their elementary school in Folsom the day after their first night of screaming Sacrmento Kings fun.
“My five year old was chanting “Sac-ra-ment-o and my ten year old was yelling, “light the beam to everyone we walked by,” said Greenwalt. “They were exhausted and I was completely spent after that game, yet I couldn’t sleep until after 2am with the adrenaline.”
It’s not just the local fans that are reaping the rewards from seeing the team they have patiently believed in compete in the post season. Businesses around the arena and throughout the Sacramento region are finding themselves earning a little more “green,” thanks to the excitement surrounding the purple.
From light the beam donuts, beear and coffee being added to area menu’s, to the Mikuni “Fox Roll,” to candles that boast purple flames, local entrapenuers are engaged in the excitement the Kings have brought to the city. While they are cashing in on the opportunity, they are just are excited to be part of it all, all profits aside.
“The energy around the ‘Light the Beam’ and the team this year, you can feel it in the city,” said Justine Cabanilla, who has been making Kings cookies with his wife Candice in their family owned Sugar Sweetery in Rancho Cordova.
“It means the world to us that we get to celebrate, not just birthdays and wedding celebrations, but also our community, coming together, and possibly winning the playoffs,” said Candice.
During the local playoff games so far, Sacramento Police has been busy with an increased force and presence around the arena and throughout the downtown area.
Despite the size of the crowds, they have had very little issues during both of the games so far as the fans unite to celebrate. The friendliness of the fans is something Greenwalt noticed as well Monday night.
“Fans that have never met each other giving each other high fives, hugging each other, yelling light the beam,” said Greenwalt. “It’s just surreal.”
The Sacramento Kings now travel to San Francisco to play the Warriors for game three on Thursday and game four on Sunday. A game five will bring the team back home to Golden 1 on Wednesday, April 26.