The Kings are back, and so is Scott Moak.
The team's public address announcer for 11 seasons still cannot fathom his good fortune. He has the best view midcourt at Power Balance Pavilion for Kings home games. He is encouraged and paid to be loud, to add flavor to the product. And he does without overhyping or blowing your eardrums to bits, though he jokes that his mother, Suzan, will offer an exasperated expression of, "Son, do you have to yell in the house?"
Well, yes, mom. This is a big house.
Moak has belted out Kings names "Chris Wwwwwwebber" to "Isaiaaaaaaaaaah Thomas." No tongue twisters there. Imagine Moak's relief at no longer having to smooth over extra vowels for Nikoloz Tskitishvili or Martynas Andriuskevicius, both gone from the NBA.
"I'll do my homework by watching the 11 o'clock 'SportsCenter' at night to hear name pronunciation, then the 2 a.m. one," Moak said.
Most kids who grew up around sports dreamed of becoming athletes. Moak fantasized about retiring his gear to talk to audiences. He attended Kennedy High School basketball games in the early 1980s and was transfixed by P.A. announcer Hasan Hanks.
"I thought he had a golden voice," Moak recalled. "This dude, a teacher, was so cool, so suave. I emailed him awhile ago and told him I do his shtick how to announce fouls. Huge influence."
Moak was a captain for his football and baseball playoff teams at Kennedy in the early 1990s, and he played baseball at Cosumnes River College. By the time he got to UC Davis, his back was shot, and he was finished as an athlete.
But the voice? He was just warming up.
By the mid-1990s, Moak was the P.A. announcer for Sacramento State football, volleyball and basketball. He used his pipes for the Monarchs and two U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at Sac State. And he started a love affair with high school championship events for the CIF that continues to this day.
Moak, who works as a marketing director for 3fold Communications in Sacramento, is modest when he suggested that timing, not talent, was the key to landing the coveted Kings P.A. spot.
Moak was one of 167 who tried out during an open-mike competition in 2000. He didn't get the job. But he was called back in the summer of 2002 "after the Robert Horry shot," he recalled to test a new sound system. It was an informal tryout that became a formal one when the right folks liked what they heard.
The NBA has noticed Moak's sound, too.
Over the summer in Las Vegas, he emceed the news conference to announce the 12-man roster for the U.S. Olympic team. He also hosted a Q&A with NBA legend Bill Russell and a round-table discussion with 1992 Dream Team members Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen and Clyde Drexler.
But Kings games are still his favorite.
"By the middle of the second quarter of every home game, it happens," Moak said. "I'm sitting there, and I think, 'I seriously can't believe I get to do this. Really?' "