Happy Thanksgiving! I was reflecting on our BIG win last night vs. our Southern California neighbor Lakers. There’s nothing better than a well-earned Beat LA chant! How do we do it?
It really does seem like our Kings pull off frequent big wins against the big teams. Even Coach mentioned as much last night. I wondered if that’s all it was. Do they just rise to the occasion of the bigger challenge? Or, was it something more?
While my wife was diligently preparing our vegan Thanksgiving for 2 (it’s actually pretty yummy!), I decided to look into it. I had a hypothesis that it was more than just the marquee match up against a top team. In the three years I’ve been with the Kings, I felt like our best performances had been in front of the biggest crowds, which weren’t always just against the biggest teams. Was there something infections about our packed building that helped carry a young team with a little extra energy and swagger? Could it really be that the right crowd could make an impact on a Kings win? We’ve always felt it to be true, but how substantiated is it?
I started with an analysis of the last three years beginning in the 2009-10 season, where I think the core of this young team began to develop. What I found put a big smile on my face.
Since the 2009-10 season, the Kings have played in 51 home games with crowds of 14,000 or better. In those games, they have a win percentage of .412, marginally better than the win percentage of .380 in the games with attendance of less than 14,000. OK, not bad.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Look at what happens as the crowds get progressively larger:
There seems to be a clear correlation to wins as attendance increases.
As the Kings tipped-off to 12 home crowds of 17,000+ over the last 3 years, they have won an astounding 67% of those games! It should also be noted, that during those 12 games, 2 of the 4 losses came in overtime (Back to Back heart-breakers vs. LeBron and Kobe during Christmas week of 2009). Meaning the Kings were ahead or tied at the end of regulation in 10 out of these 12 games - 83% of the time! Unbelievable.
Photo Credit: Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images
But, maybe you’re thinking that this IS just a case of the Kings playing up to the level of the best competition and the crowd size is just a fortunate circumstance. After all, the big crowds come from big time opponents, right? Not so fast!
Of these 8 out of 12 games the Kings won with capacity crowds of 17,000+, their opponents had a combined year-end winning percentage of .487. Yes, we do beat more of the big teams than we typically do in front of a stuffed building and these wins included David over Goliath against the Lakers, Thunder & Celtics, but the Kings handled the majority of their business against teams coming in with less hype.
Our incredible fans have packed the house and represented for more than just the biggest opponents and our team has fed off of that! The point is, it appears the cause of the higher quality play may, in fact, be the large crowd more than the high caliber of the opponent. We play great teams and not-so-great teams equally better with a King-sized crowd.
The .667 winning percentage with capacity crowds is quite a contrast from our overall home winning percentage over the last 3 years of .393 vs. a similar caliber of cumulative opponents.
The tipping point of winning ball seems to hit around the 16,000 fans mark. In these games, playing teams with a .640 year-end winning percentage on average, we’ve pulled out over 50% of those victories. Again, we’re not just beating the best teams in this case. In fact, we’re doing more winning against lower performing opponents, but at a much better rate than we typically do with smaller crowds.
Here’s a look at the general data:
It’s clear that there’s some mysterious force at play inside Sleep Train Arena and I like it. If you’ve been in the seats for any of these games, you probably know what I’m talking about. The more 6th men you see standing at your side, the more inspired you feel to yell, stomp and provide our guys with a boost of hometown swagger. When the crowd is near capacity, the energy is exponential.
I think what I’m really thankful for is that we all make a difference in some way. To me, that’s the fun of working in professional sports. Not having the hops or 3-point range to get onto the actual court, I hope that we impact the outcome in some other positive way. As a fan, it’s the same for me. I believe that my voice and my passion make a difference when I’m in the stands.
We’ve heard it often from all of our guys in their post-game quotes or on their Twitter feeds - after so many of these games Tyreke, Marcus, JT, DeMarcus have all glowed about the energy they pull from the crowd. I’ve heard it behind the scenes. When they know a “Blackout” night is coming or they catch wind of big early attendance numbers, they get fired up. These guys feel your presence!
Looking at this data and being there to feel the contagious energy of our big crowd last night and over the last 3 years leaves me with no doubt that we all make a real impact on this team. We show up to work at the arena or we show up to cheer because we’re proud of our guys, and our community and we share their wins and losses. The elation, the sadness, the sweat and the tears. It’s all ours together.
The great sports statistician Bill James developed a formula and coined the term “Win Shares” for each player’s contribution towards a win. When the house is packed, Sacramento fans deserve credit for “win shares” and should feel pride and take ownership in sharing each win.
If you haven’t had a chance to get out to one of the BIG crowd games recently, we hope you can join us soon. It really is an amazing value for your entertainment dollar and is an awesome place to build lasting memories.
To make it easier for you, we’re launching our new Holiday Pack tonight. For as little as $49, you can get 3 tickets to Kings games that feature a few of those expected BIG crowds (Boston & Miami to name a few), plus we’re throwing in a free Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows lift ticket (valued at $98). If you buy on Black Friday, we’re even adding a complimentary 4th game vs. Utah this Saturday on 11/24! I know it sounds too good to be true, but it’s for real. It’s really the best ticket deal I’ve ever seen.
We want you in the building. We want you to cheer our team to a win. You can grab your Holiday Pack HERE starting at midnight on Black Friday. Happy Thanksgiving everyone and Go Kings!