We sat down with Emcee of the Stockton Kings, Tony Gladney, immediately after fulfilling his Emcee duties for night 2 of California Classic at Golden 1 Center.
You just finished emceeing your first NBA game! How do you feel?
It almost feels surreal. It was electrifying and super exciting. I’m just pumped to be able to do it. It’s not just the noise. There’s such a feeling that Sacramento has and I hope that will spill over into Stockton.
What do you think was the highlight of the night for you?
The highlight of tonight was definitely doing the crowd pumps. I just really enjoyed going out there and being able to own it and be big and bold and all of myself. Yelling out at the crowd and really getting that response back not only pumps up the crowd but it also pumps me up.
You grew up in Stockton. Have you always been a basketball fan?
I grew up a Kings fan. My dad was a die-hard fan, so I initially became a fan because of that. But, I didn’t really get into it until I took the Emcee gig with the Stockton Kings. That’s when I was really able to appreciate the sport. In my eyes, basketball is such a growing sport and it’s so fun. If you ask me, it’s one of the only sports that is even more fun to watch when you come in person. It’s fine at home watching it on TV, but it’s way more fun when you come in person.
How did you get into the entertainment business?
I’ve always been this charismatic person in general. I used to always announce for a lot of little things like car shows and different community events. And then the Stockton Kings posted on their Instagram one day that they were looking for a local emcee. One of my friends reached out to me and said, “Bro, this is all you.” I was like, “Yeah, whatever.” It just seemed bigger than me.
But, then I went home that night and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I just stayed up and thought of all the clips I could send in for my audition. And, I wasn’t wrong—it is bigger than me. But, it’s a role that I just felt like I could mold myself to fit into. I realized that if a role isn’t bigger than you, then it’s not worth it.
Do you have any rituals you perform before a game or any hype songs you listen to to get yourself ready to go?
Oh my God, yes. “Amili” by Lil Wayne. It gets me so hype. Shoutout to Dj Louie in Stockton who always plays that song for me for the second half pumps at Stockton Kings games. And then I also drink Pure Boost Energy drinks. I got that from [Scott] Fresh[our]. That’s my secret. I’m not sure if it’s Scott’s secret. I feel like Scott taught me all I know but know all that he knows, if that makes sense.
What’s your favorite memory from your time emceeing in Stockton thus far?
So, we started off the season trying to do a “209” chant. For those of us who are from Stockton, it is so huge to be able to get a group of people out for a positive event and cheer together because of different barriers in our culture. Stockton is such a diverse and beautiful place, but sometimes we have a rough time coming together and being integrated with one another. So, all the best ball games in general offer that.
But at the end of the season, it was a hyped game, a packed house. And the fans had finally started a “209” chant. So, I hopped on. We had been trying to start that all season long. We would just yell, “209! 209!” but it was like pulling teeth to get people to join in. So, when we finally got that chant, I remember looking around and thinking, “Wow. This is it.” It was a huge moment for me.
How would you convince someone who has yet to go to a Stockton game to get out there and buy a ticket this season?
People can give their own thoughts and their own views on Stockton. You can hear thoughts and views and stories about the team from other people and the media, but nothing is better than the story that we can tell ourselves.
We want people in Stockton to be proud of something. This team is right here in our backyard and I do believe that Stockton’s basketball culture will grow 100%. It’s just going to take some time for the Stockton community to truly buy into it and be there. We will be a basketball city.
The Stockton Kings team isn’t just about basketball. We also want [the team] to add positivity to the city. We want the youth in our community to have people to look up to and a positive place to go and have fun. They can look at the players and think, “That could be me. It’s right here in my city.”
If you could use one word to describe the energy you feel when you get out on the court to emcee, whether it be here at California Classic or back in Stockton, what would it be?
“Exhilarating” is the word for sure. It is such an exhilarating experience every single time.