SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – As the Sacramento Kings took on the Golden State Warriors for their final preseason game Thursday evening, the crowd looked a little different than it did this time last year.
“Yeah, it’s strange for sure. There’s some crowd noise, but then the crowd is just cardboard cutouts,” said Kings head coach Luke Walton.
Thursday’s crowd was comprised of cardboard cutouts, including former Kings players and a whole section dedicated to the many faces of Jerry Reynolds.
The Kings dancers and Slamson the Lion have been grounded by the pandemic as well.
“There’s some strange feel to the building for sure,” Walton told FOX40.
Strange or not, there are real people inside the Golden 1 Center whose job is to make it sound and feel real to the players and to the fans at home.
“It’s actually a pretty well-coordinated effort,” said audio engineer Martin Potter.
A team of two handles the canned crowd noise, the idea being to follow the flow of the game action.
“As the play develops my job is to kind of feel it out, feel how the crowd would react, and then build up for a shot attempt,” Potter explained. “It’s a lot of control at your fingertips.”
It’s the same system that debuted last summer in the NBA bubble in Orlando.
It does the job, just not as well as 17,000-plus screaming Kings fans do during a normal season.
“It’s not going to feel the same, you know, you’re can’t get everyone banging on the bleachers giving that rumble,” Potter told FOX40. “But I think it does help, and I think it will help the players to have something to play off of and respond to.”