'Bollywood Night' by Sacramento Kings has turned into an international success
On a night when the off-court entertainment would have sufficed, the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers added yet another chapter to their storied rivalry with a unique offering for the fans. Before a sold-out arena, the Kings, led by inspirational performances from All-Star prospects – center DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins and point guard Rajon Rondo – held off the Lakers for the 118-115 victory. But that wasn't the only entertainment of the night.
“Bollywood Nights” – Now A Regular Fixture
Ever since the franchise was bought over by a consortium led by Indian-born Vivek Ranadive in 2013, the Kings have looked to deepen ties with the Indian community in the US as well as in India. Mumbai-born Ranadive himself has orchestrated the Bollywood nights, and the latest Lakers-Kings game could in fact be considered a Bollywood Night rematch, after their first head-to-head on the same occasion in 2014.
“I’m proud to welcome fans from all over the world to participate and celebrate Indian culture and traditions,” Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé had said prior to tip-off. “The Kings connecting with not only fans in India, but from all over the globe. Here at home, we encourage and challenge the loudest fans in the NBA to experience a new culture, and welcome them with open arms.”
The Bollywood Night and the celebration of Indian culture are among many franchise outreach initiatives led by the Kings, all of which embody Ranadive’s vision. Under his stewardship, the Kings have implemented a forward-looking “NBA 3.0” philosophy focused on making the Kings the premier sports franchise of the 21st century.
NBA 3.0 is driven by cutting-edge technology to enhance the fan experience, which in turn acts as a positive agent of change in the community and expands the team’s and the region’s global brand.
Celebrating India’s cross-over appeal
In the frenetic hours leading up to Bollywood Night at the Sleep Train Arena, colourful fabric sheets were made to hang from the catwalks over the bowl, rally towels were placed on seats for all fans, a mehendi stall was set up on the concourse, and mouth-watering kebabs were roasting away on barbeques. Even the Kings Business operations staff at the game joined in by wearing traditional Indian attire.
Tapping into the global appeal of Bollywood, on the merchandising front, Bollywood scarves and t-shirts were on sale in the team store, and Kings’ players did their pre-game warmups in jerseys with “KINGS” emblazoned in Hindi.
On the entertainment side, the first Miss America of Indian descent Nina Davuluri was all smiles as she joined the Sacramento Kings dancers for a special Bollywood-themed dance routine. Bollywood dance cams trained their lenses on different segments of the crowd to get them on their feet and dance to peppy desi pop numbers.
The starting line-ups for the Kings and the Lakers were introduced by a special guest announcer in Hindi, followed by a special half-time performance from Indian-American artist Anjali World. Indo-Fijian Sacramento artist Pam Shankar sang the American National Anthem to commence the proceedings.
Other pre-game and in-game highlights included Punjabi sword fighting, dance performances by the California-based Ankhiley Gabroo dance group and coordinated pyrotechnics. Hollywood A-Lister Jamie Foxx was seen courtside enjoying a friendly conversation with Ranadive.