• NBA team Sacramento Kings has been hosting a Bollywood theme night for the last three years. The Kings is the only franchise in the league with an Indian-born majority owner in Vivek Ranadivé.
  • The game was telecast live in India on 8th January 2016 on Sony Six and Sony Six HD and nationally across the US on TNT, as the Kings beat the Lakers 118-115.
  • Throughout the night, Indian dance, singing, and other performance groups played to a capacity crowd.
  • Lakers’ retiring legend Kobe Bryant played well in his last game at Sleep Train Arena with a 28 point scoring performance.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – 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. 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.

“Bollywood Nights”- Now A Regular Fixture

Bhangra Dance Troupe Ankhiley Gabroo during the 2016 Bollywood Night. Image credit- Luke Cheng.

Bhangra Dance Troupe Ankhiley Gabroo during the 2016 Bollywood Night. Image credit- Luke Cheng.

Ever since the Kings 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 continue to take steps to build basketball as the premier global sport of the 21st century by 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 is among many franchise outreach initiatives led by the Kings that embodies 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 utilizing cutting-edge technology to enhance the fan experience, acting as a positive agent of change in the community, and expanding the team’s and the region’s global brand.

Celebrating India’s cross-over appeal

Kings' star centre DeMarcus Cousins seen wearing a Kings warm up t-shirt written in Hindi. Image credit- Luke Cheng.

Kings’ star centre DeMarcus Cousins seen wearing a Kings warm up t-shirt written in Hindi. Image credit- Luke Cheng.

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 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 halftime performance from Indian-American artist, Anjali World. Indo-Fijian Sacramento artist Pam Shankar sang the American National Anthem to commence proceedings.

Other pregame 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.

About the Sacramento Kings & Vivek Ranadivé

Sacramento Kings' majority owner Mr Vivek Ranadive being interviewed during the 2016 Bollywood Night. Image credit- Luke Cheng.

Sacramento Kings’ majority owner Mr Vivek Ranadive being interviewed during the 2016 Bollywood Night. Image credit- Luke Cheng.

In May 2013, Vivek Ranadivé led a dynamic and diverse ownership group comprised of leaders in technology, business, sports, marketing and real estate to purchase the Sacramento Kings. Under the new ownership, 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 utilizing cutting-edge technology to enhance the fan experience, acting as a positive agent of change in the community, and expanding the team’s and the region’s global brand. For more information, please visit www.Kings.com.

About the National Basketball Association (NBA)

The NBA is a global sports and media business built around three professional sports leagues: the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, and the NBA Development League.  The league has established a major international presence with games and programming in 215 countries and territories in 49 languages, and NBA merchandise for sale in more than 125,000 stores in 100 countries on 6 continents.  NBA rosters at the start of the 2015-16 season featured 100 international players from 37 countries and territories.  NBA Digital’s assets include NBA.com and NBA Mobile, which achieved record traffic during the 2014-15 season, as well as NBA TV.  The NBA has created one of the largest social media communities in the world, with more than 915 million likes and followers globally across all league, team, and player platforms.  Through NBA Cares, the league addresses important social issues by working with internationally recognized youth-serving organizations that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes.

Gopalakrishnan R
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