'Playing To Win' Debuts in Sacramento

The story of Sacramento’s relentless effort to save the Kings premiered in the Capital City on Wednesday night in front of a packed theater.
by Jason Wise
Director, Digital

“The hair still stands up on the back of my neck,” said KHTK 1140 radio personality and diehard Kings fan Carmichael Dave after watching Playing To Win.

The film, which chronicles the team’s relocation saga, debuted to a sold-out audience at the Esquire IMAX Theater in downtown Sacramento on Wednesday.

The event was attended by many of the biggest players in the story, including Mayor Kevin Johnson, Dave, Grant Napear, Jerry Reynolds, Gary Gerould and more.

Following a short introduction, the film opens with a litany of news reports from the morning of Jan. 9, 2013, following a Tweet by food blogger Diana Falk, daughter of NBA agent David Falk, “confirming” the team’s sale to a Seattle-based investment group led by Chris Hansen.

However, to tell the entire story, Playing to Win backtracked to two years prior and the rumored intention of the team to leave Sacramento for Anaheim following the 2010-11 season.

After Sacramento’s 2010-11 season finale – during a fan orchestrated “sit in” which lasted an extended timeframe following the final horn – Carmichael Dave literally and figuratively ascended to become the de facto leader of fans during the Sacramento Kings relocation saga.

Standing on a ladder at center court, wearing a Kings hockey-style jersey and customary backwards hat, Dave produced a prophetic moment that will be etched into the history of the franchise, stating “Who knows what the future holds except this – this thing is not over by a long shot.”

And history has since proven it wasn’t over.

Dave mentions early in the film that he cannot sit around and wait for the story to unfold.

So, near the end of the 2012-13 season, he set out on a “Playing to Win Tour” that would span the width of the country, ultimately arriving in New York for the NBA’s Relocation Committee meeting.

Meanwhile, Mayor Kevin Johnson was determined to find a way in which he could help keep the team in his hometown, starting with the search for a new ownership group.

The film tells the parallel stories of Mayor Johnson and Dave, bouncing back and forth from Dave's travels across the country to drive awareness and share Sacramento’s story to NBA boardrooms, Relocation Committee press conferences and stories of Mayor Johnson's all-encompassing strategy sessions.

A month later, following the “Playing to Win Tour’s" return home and weeks of rampant online rumor and speculation, Carmichael Dave is shown in the film laying on his couch reading Twitter, when a magical post surfaces.

The relocation committee submitted its recommendation for the Kings to remain in Sacramento.

Overcome with joy and relief, the scope of the moment finally hits him as he breaks down in tears, simultaneously as he joins a call with Napear, who is also in tears.

Even though fans know the story and outcome, the phone call shared between two colleagues and friends is a powerful moment in the film and encapsulates the sentiment fans share for their beloved team and relief it was finally all over.

“[The film] really was a love letter,” Dave said, “Not just to the city and the Mayor, but to all the different grassroots movements that really played a vital role in keeping the spirit in the city ignited.”

Production Notes:

  • Playing to Win Producer Elliot Sisson spent a month on the road with Dave and Tour member Sean Thomas to catalog the journey. “The passion both of them have for the city of Sacramento and the Kings made me more excited to be a part of the tour every day,” said Sisson.
  • The group visited a handful of cities throughout the country. “I had no idea how many Kings fans there were all across America,” recalled Sisson.
  • Dave made special mention of the people who are fans of other teams, but came out to show their support for Sacramento. “Even in L.A,” he said. “To see all of the Lakers fans show up and say we’ve got your back really brought it home."
  • “We had 12 terabytes of footage on this project, which is an insane amount to sift through.” said Dave Prevatt, one of the film's producers. Prevatt and his two postproduction teammates spent a collective 2,200 hours editing Playing To Win.

For information on screenings and more, visit the Playing To Win website.



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