We sat down with the Director of Entertainment and Merchandising for the Stockton Kings, Kavita Dhillon.
What are your responsibilities as Game Director for the Stockton Kings?
There’s a lot of planning and coordinating for the entertainment that will be in our games. So, for Stockton Kings games, I schedule out when different partnership activations will happen, who our anthem singer will be for the evening, what our halftime entertainment will look like, and I also coordinate with basketball operations for our postgame autographs.
I work with vendors to activate different types of activities on our concourse. For example, on our country theme night in March last year, I worked with a company to bring out different fun games including an inflatable mechanical bull. I also work with the arena so that they understand everything that’s going on during a game day as we are tenants there.
It doesn’t end there. I also run rehearsals with our entertainment team, as well as work with the control room to make sure that they understand how the run of show will go from doors open till the end of the game. I’m usually stationed at the courtside table directing the show during the game.
That is a lot of responsibility! Would you say that what you do on a day-to-day is different than on a game day?
Yes! My day-to-day is different! I’m more often at my desk working through emails and other projects than on a game day. I am mostly on my feet between meetings and rehearsals getting things done for the game.
How did you get your start into game directing?
Wow, my friend and Kings Emcee, Scott Freshour, helped me with my first opportunity. I started with this [Sacramento Kings] organization in 2015. I went from Youth Sports to the membership development and sales campaign team, now sales operations, within the Kings organization. In the summer after the full season internship ended, Scott reached out and asked if I was interested in being a talent or stage manager. I was happy to accept a role in a department that I hadn’t worked in yet within the sports industry. I was very excited to learn new things and learn more about how the run of show works for basketball, and I absolutely loved it.
I had the time of my life being a stage manager. Getting to run around and tell Scott where he needed to be for each of his live hits, the adrenaline rush that I got in that first season was amazing. It actually made me feel like I was running my own basketball game next to the NBA court when I was 10 years old. I always said that I wanted to be in the NBA, so this was a really cool role that allowed me to play or work fairly close to the court.
So, through stage managing here with the Sacramento Kings, I realized that I really enjoyed entertainment for sports events. And when the opportunity opened up when the Stockton Kings moved to Stockton, it was kind of a natural progression from being a stage manager for the Sacramento Kings into a more leadership role for entertainment for the Stockton Kings.
What is your favorite part of the job?
Oh, I love being part of the creative process, getting to come up with new ideas, trying new things to entertain the crowd. I have a very strong customer service background, so very much being able to create magical moments through the entertainment at games is probably one of my favorite parts.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to break into the industry?
Definitely networking. Find people who are already in a role that you are interested in on LinkedIn and find a way to reach out and connect that way. Ask questions. Everyone in the sport industry is always happy to lend a helping hand.
What are your long-term goals within the Kings organization?
Just continue to grow and progress into a higher leadership role within the Sacramento Kings organization. I also have an interest in just being part of more NBA events or G League events. The bigger ones, like NBA All-Star Weekend, how can I be a part of that and contribute to the entertainment there?