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I convey to our staff that we are responsible for creating wow moments, an engaging and fun-filled environment for fans of all ages and backgrounds. Overall, fans like to feel united, have that feeling of “we are in this together.”

Maurice Brazelton

Senior Director of Entertainment

Sacramento Kings

× The interview with Maurice Brazelton was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

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1Tell us about your role as Senior Director of Entertainment with the Sacramento Kings. What does a typical day look like for you?

I oversee the Sacramento Kings Entertainment Department. On a typical game-day, I work to update the script and rundown and then participate in a staff meeting we call “Papertech” where we all talk through the entire show. This meeting is composed of our Mascot, performance teams manager, stage manager, host, Technical Director, Graphics Manager, and audio-video staff. We ensure we are all in agreement with the content, flow, and plan for each part of our show.

Our department works closely with most departments in the company including Partnerships, Group Sales, Marketing, Public Relations, Community Impact, Merchandise, Digital/Content, Basketball Ops, and Events. After the Papertech, I make the necessary edits to the run down of the show and script and we then locked in for the game that night. In the early afternoon, from 3-3:30 p.m., I do a graphic check in the arena looking over each graphic/screen that will be in our show to ensure correct spelling and timing.

Between 4-4:45 p.m. we conduct game-day rehearsals, going over the elements that go into our game including the National Anthem, Pre-game Entertainment, Halftime act, performance teams, Mascot skits, any on-court/in-stadium partner contests, presentation blocking, and sound checks for our in-arena hosts. Between 4:45-5:15 p.m. the entertainment team takes a dinner break to gear up. At 5:30 p.m. arena doors open for a 7:10 p.m. tip-off. We are show ready and begin our programming for fans. The game typically runs for 2-2 ½ hours. I usually leave the arena by 10:30 p.m.

2Fans turn on their tv’s to watch games, but the in-game entertainment is an added incentive to actually attend live. What have you found are the keys to keeping a crowd engaged?

There is a big emphasis on in-game entertainment league-wide. Of the 4 major sports (NFL/MLB/MLS/NBA) in NBA arenas, the proximity of the fans to the action is so close and the game is fast. In addition, the structure of the NBA game allows for several stoppage points, timeouts, a minimum of 10 timeouts and it is our job as Entertainment teams to fill those breaks with meaningful, fun, and interactive content to keep our fans engaged throughout.

I convey to our staff that we are responsible for creating wow moments, an engaging and fun-filled environment for fans of all ages and backgrounds. Overall, fans like to feel united, have that feeling of “we are in this together.” The more we can give them that unity of power together the more effective we can be in creating a maintaining a special home-court advantage of often being known as the most passionate and loudest fans in the NBA.

My philosophy for maintaining crowd engagement is keeping fans connected to the game and entertain as much as you can and in as many ways as possible. When programming the game, I keep this in mind including brainstorming ideas on partner in-game contest, for example, how can we have 500 people win as opposed to just one, to giving direction to our video/camera operators to show as many fans as possible from the time the doors open to the time the game is over. Also, fans LOVE free stuff, so keeping that in mind when our partners come to us with ideas and prizes.

I work to ensure our street team is trying to reach as many fans in the upper deck as they are in the lower deck. And when programming and setting the rundown for the game, I keep in mind, to “ride the wave.” This is done by creating a run of show, that allows us to be flexible and react to the game and to the emotion of our fans. I program all of our “activations” in the first half of the game, often when the game is not yet decided.

I purposely keep the 4th quarter open in terms of content. This allows us to react to the excitement of the game whether the Kings hit a shot and take the lead, the visiting team calls a timeout, the arena is full of excitement and cheers, we “ride that wave,” we cue a song(s) they can dance to, high 5 each other and most importantly, we show them having fun on the video board, we show them in “unity.” We take it to another level by adding more intense music and video board prompts (“I can’t hear you,” “NOISE meter,” “Louder”) to get them even louder and excited creating an environment that benefits our team.

3One thing I personally love about sport is that it has the ability to bring an entire city together. How do you try to incorporate the people and culture of Sacramento?

We make a conscious effort to incorporate and use the voice of the people and culture of our city in as much of our program as possible. Our Intro video often highlights shots and images of our city and the people who live, work and play here. We include fans from Sacramento in our “fan conduct video” that runs every game and in our marketing videos that also run in-game. Our city is very proud of our team, we use the words PROUD and LOUD a lot in both marketing and in-game assets. The fans of Sacramento are authentic and very loyal, standing by their team for decades (even though we're currently in a 15-year playoff drought—the longest in the NBA).

4I could imagine your job can be quite stressful at times while trying to ensure everything goes as planned. In your opinion, what makes a good leader during major sports event?

My position is very challenging and stressful as I have to often maneuver and make audibles to the show based on last-second situations. Often times things don’t go as planned and we have mistakes that most fans do not see or recognize, but I am aware of them. Early on in my career, that would really run me nuts and I would dwell on it until the next game. I’ve learned over the years, to just “let it go,” to move on, and be ready for the next part of the show.

Regardless of what happens, I remind my staff that end of the day, we are not saving lives. It’s entertainment and with many moving parts, things happen. I constantly keep them engaged with words of support and encouragement. A good leader doesn’t blame others or speak to them in a way that makes them feel any less when things don’t go the way they were expected to go. A strong manager will take notes during the event and then at the right time post-event/game/concert/show sit-down and relay those notes for “opportunities of improvement”. A good leader hires the right people, provides them with the necessary tools, and supports them to do their job. I once worked for a supervisor, that did just this and told me “he would be the shit umbrella”—in reference to “he would take on the executive team and filter the stuff from the top getting to me/staff.”

5You started as an intern with the Kings, throwing t-shirts to the crowd, setting up in-games contests and more. How did these experiences help you get where you are today and what should aspiring sport entertainment directors be doing to get a level up?

I started as a game-day intern with the Sacramento Kings, specifically their 2000 WNBA team, the Sacramento Monarchs.

I started as a game-night, part-time intern. Among other duties, I was tasked with rolling hundreds of t-shirts, blowing up thousands of balloons, learning how to select contestants, assembling props for contests, advancing contests, wrangling the mascot, assisting with the game night hosts, and clearly communicating to our stage managers and game directors. Often times we would be asked to adjust and pivot on the fly; scrapping/holding an activation to work on something else. I believe this ultimately gave me the knowledge of how the overall show worked, though all is prior planned, game play dictates our movements.

I astutely learned each position in the entertainment department and the importance of each as it contributes to the show. In addition, I've selected music and understand what goes into that process, I know what is involved in building out graphics and how the camera director positions work. I know what a camera person has to go through to get a shot, what a camera shader does in the control room to adjust lighting for shots, how quickly and precisely a replay operator has to be on it so when the director calls for a shot, etc.In my position as the Senior Director of Entertainment/Game Director, having the knowledge of all of the positions immensely helps me and provides me an advantage in being able to clearly understand and talk-through any issues.

In addition, I officiate college basketball and I know what it takes to be an official. I study and know the NBA rules of the game as well. I feel this helps me a ton as I can clearly and effectively communicate replay challenges and help our control room show clear angles that help our team/fans see what happened on any particular review.

Emma Greer Emma's Final Thoughts

Going to a live sports event and feeling like you're apart of a community that all has the same goal (winning) is such an amazing experience. Maurice Brazelton helps create those moments. He has taken the skills he's learned from his internships and part-time roles to get a level-up on many aspects of in-game operations. Maurice's philosophy behind engaging fans is truly rooted in the meaning of sport... ambition, unity, and pure entertainment. He is clearly very passionate about his work and his management style is something I think is super important in creating an equally fun and unified work environment. Maurice and his team not only create entertaining moments and memories but have their hand in representing their city, their culture, and their team. 

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