MUMBAI, India -- Never has 4,000 kids screaming at the same time sounded so good.
The Kings' NBA preseason loss to the Pacers on Friday night was unique for several reasons. It was the first NBA game ever played on Indian soil. The game was played in a venue that was not designed for basketball. Instead of selling the tickets for the historic game to the general public, thousands of kids from the surrounding Jr. NBA programs were bused to the NSCI Dome to watch the game.
Roughly 75 buses were needed to bring all the aspiring basketball players to Mumbai.
What happened once the game started was something that no one has ever seen or heard.
Those 4,000 youth went crazy with every single basket. It didn't matter whether it was the Kings or Pacers filling it up. There was screaming. Lots and lots of screaming.
The kids at the NSCI Dome had so much energy. pic.twitter.com/WRstXXtVFG— Ali Thanawalla (@Ali_Thanawalla) October 4, 2019
But in this rare instance, no one was annoyed by the screaming. In this case, it made for an incredible scene.
"I thought it was amazing. It was awesome," Kings coach Luke Walton said after the game. "What a cool event to be a part of … NBA basketball. We talked about it as a team before the game, but NBA basketball in the middle of India and a crowd full of kids that have come through Jr. NBA, and then we got out to the court, like you said, whoever scores, they were cheering for.
"I heard Kings chants, I heard Pacers chants, so it was a lot of fun."
Buddy Hield, who led the Kings with 28 points in the preseason opener, loved the scene.
"When the Pacers were losing, they were going for the Pacers and when we started losing, they went for the Kings," Hield said. "It was a great atmosphere and those kids will remember it for the rest of their lives. Us coming down here playing the game of basketball at the highest level, in India, it’s big time. I enjoyed myself, I’m still enjoying myself here. The people of India are very welcoming and they treat you with a lot of respect."
After Indiana's T.J. Warren tied the game 118-118 with 7.8 seconds remaining in regulation, Hield had a chance to win the game at the buzzer, but missed.
Kings fans behind their bench didn’t like this shot. pic.twitter.com/39y2wLEig9— Ali Thanawalla (@Ali_Thanawalla) October 4, 2019
Those same kids cheered as loud as ever, but not because they were rooting against the Kings. It meant they got to see five minutes of NBA basketball.
"To be in this new environment, it was very, very humbling," Warren said. "To be able to come out and compete in front of the kids, in front of India means a lot. We’re very grateful for this."
The Pacers trailed the Kings by 13 at halftime, but they turned things around in the second half.
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Coach Nate McMillan gave an assist to the kids in attendance.
"It was good energy out there. The kids were loud. Kids are loud anyway," McMillan said. "They were good, they were into the game. I wasn’t sure if they were going to be pulling for the Pacers or the Kings. It was somewhat of a mixed crowd. But good energy and the guys fed off that. When you have a crowd that’s into the game, it was intense. There’s no doubt the players fed off of that and they started compete even harder to try to win the game."
No matter how the Kings-Pacers game goes on Saturday, it's unlikely to top the atmosphere created by those 4,000 screaming kids.