Light the beam! Vivek tells story behind Kings’ purple spectacle originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Three new words have loudly and repeatedly echoed throughout the city of Sacramento this fall:
Light. The. Beam.
The Kings’ victory beam, powered by four purple lasers that sit atop Golden 1 Center’s grand entrance and light up the sky above the downtown Sacramento skyline after every team win, was unveiled earlier this season, and has taken on a life of its own with fans.
“I just like the notion that this just goes into outer space,” Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé said in a Thursday interview with NBC Sports California. “It goes farther than the human eye can see. As a tech guy, having four lasers beaming into outer space is kind of cool.
“I want aliens to see it,” Ranadivé jokingly added. “I want it to go so far out that everyone can see it.”
The beam first was introduced on Sept. 16 — celebrated as “916 Day” in Sacramento — and lit up the sky for the first time on Oct. 29 after the Kings’ first win of the 2022-23 NBA season, a 119-113 home triumph over the Miami Heat. Its lasers will point up to the stars after every Kings win this season and beyond. Home or away, the constellations will be greeted by a hint of Kings purple.
The beam is the brainchild of Kings president of business operations John Rinehart, and was inspired by the Los Angeles Angels’ “Big A” sign in the parking lot of Angel Stadium in Anaheim. After every Angels win, the halo at the top of the “Big A” lights up to let people passing by know that their favorite baseball team was victorious that night.
Rinehart brought the concept back to Northern California, 400 miles up Interstate 5. But for Ranadivé, having a spectacle — and, more specifically, a purple spectacle — for Kings fans to share and rally behind always was in the plans.
Ranadivé purchased the Kings franchise in May 2013. Seventeen months later, construction officially broke ground in downtown Sacramento, and Golden 1 Center made its grand opening before the 2016-17 NBA season.
As plans for the world-class arena were being drawn up, Ranadivé reached out to David Kelley, a mutual friend of Steve Jobs and the CEO of design and consulting firm IDEO. Kelley planted a new anecdote in Ranadivé’s mind that turned into his new mission.
“When I went to see David Kelley, he said, ‘Look, you’ve got to figure out what your purple lights are,’ ” Ranadivé told NBC Sports California. “I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said, ‘Well, if you ever go on Virgin [Airlines], you step on the plane and you sit down and you see these purple lights. You immediately know that this is going to be different from any other experience you’ve ever had on any other airline. It’s going to be unique, it’s going to be special, and you look forward to it.’ “
Ranadivé went back and figured out what the Kings’ “purple lights” attraction would be: The unique design of Golden 1 Center, a basketball cathedral equally beautiful inside and out.
As the Kings tipped off their seventh season at Golden 1 Center on Oct. 19, Ranadivé and Co. found their new “purple lights.” Literally. In the form of 1,000 watts of RGB laser power, the brightest full-color laser equipment in the world. And the only thing of its kind in the NBA.
“’Hey, I’m going to do better than the purple lights,’ “ Ranadivé recalled Rinehart saying. “‘I’m going to do this laser.’
“We toyed with different ideas. Do we light up the Capitol building? Do we light up [Tower Bridge]? What do we do? But we really wanted it emanating from our building. So, there you have it. We now have the purple lights in form of a beam that shoots into outer space.”
Unsurprisingly, Kings fans immediately fell in love with the beam. The players did, too.
On Tuesday night, when the Kings handily defeated the Brooklyn Nets 153-121 after scoring the second-most points in a single game since the franchise moved from Kansas City, they improved to 7-6 on the season. The NBA world took notice. And the beam took center stage.
NBA Twitter, which largely hasn’t been kind to the Kings (or anyone, really) over the franchise’s recent struggles, nearly unanimously fell in love with the purple lasers lighting up the Sacramento night sky.
“I think we might be emerging as everybody’s second [favorite] team in a way because we have had such a long [playoff] drought,” Ranadivé said. “The number of people that have called me and said, ‘I’m really happy that you are experiencing some success. And that beam really is great and symbolic of it.’
“It’s always been my vision to create a spectacle. That’s what we did. This is that fireplace — we light the fire, and everyone can just gather around it.
“This is like a huge fire that goes into outer space.”
Kevin Huerter, acquired in a July trade with the Atlanta Hawks, already has made a massive impact on the franchise, mostly with his lights-out 3-point shooting. But Huerter’s social-media savviness started another trend among Kings fans.
“Still OMW,” Huerter wrote in a recent Instagram post caption. “#BeamTeam.”
The basketball world has cheered on and watched documentaries on the “Dream Team” and “Redeem Team.” But now it has its “Beam Team” — a young, fast, explosive and exciting Kings squad that has the entire city of Sacramento behind it.
The “Beam Team” nickname, by the way, is Ranadivé-approved.
“I think it’s great,” Ranadivé told NBC Sports California. “Anything that gets people together. Kevin, he’s been amazing for the team. I got to travel with the team — if you just see the chemistry that they have, you can see that there’s something brewing there. Kevin is new, and he’s already beloved by everyone.
“So, I think that calling it the ‘Beam Team’ is kind of cool.”
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Sixteen long seasons have passed since the Kings last reached the NBA’s postseason bracket. And eight wins in their first 16 games this season doesn’t make a playoff appearance a guarantee.
The path, though is easy to see. One that is lit by a team with a dynamic young core, a fun personality, a coach with championship experience and, of course, four purple lasers fired from atop Golden 1 Center.