The equipment manager for the Sacramento Kings shares the inside scoop on everything his job entails, from player superstitions to whether Kings fans can expect to see more of the black uniform.
With 17 years of experience, Sacramento Kings Equipment Manager Dwayne Wilson has seen a lot during his time in the NBA. From picking up and washing opponents’ uniforms to contacting shoe representatives, Wilson is an expert in the field of equipment management.
Shortly after finishing his first season in Sacramento, Wilson sat down with The Kings Blog to discuss his everyday duties, the time his team’s uniforms were stolen and whether Kings fans can expect to see more of the team’s popular alternate jersey.
How would you characterize your first season in Sacramento?
“It was good. The nice thing was that (I’m experienced) so I knew what needed to be done. (Also), (former Kings Equipment Manager Rob Pimental) was good (at his job) so everything was pretty much in order and it was just a matter of stepping in and going to work. There wasn’t anything that surprised me or anything – it was definitely fun, I enjoyed it. It was also a good experience because I’m from the West Coast so getting back out here was (great).”
How long have you been working as an equipment manager in the NBA?
“Prior to the 2011-12 season, I was with the Milwaukee Bucks for six seasons and before that I was with the Dallas Mavericks for 10 seasons.”
What is a typical workday like for you during the season?
“During the season, it’s either a practice day or a game day. Usually, game days are a lot longer. On home game days, my responsibilities are going to include our team plus the visiting team – setting up their shootaround. Sometimes away teams may have players who are injured and need to see a doctor, so I will coordinate it with our (Director of Sports Medicine Pete Youngman) and our team doctors. For a game, (I have) to get the visiting locker room ready and they may have laundry coming in from a previous road game where their uniforms are still dirty, so I have to get that taken care of for them, too. Usually, on a home game day, I get to the arena by 7:30 a.m. and don’t leave until after the game. Once the game ends, I’m probably still here for another couple of hours.
“When you’re on the road, all you have to do is worry about the game. You have a block of time after shootaround (until) you go back for the game and then you’re done. It’s a lot easier on the road as opposed to at home.”
Do you often talk with opposing team equipment managers?
“I’m familiar with all of them. There are maybe four or five that I would consider good friends, so I talk and joke around with those guys on a daily basis for the most part.”
How do you clean equipment on the road?
“If you’re the visiting team, the home team basically takes care of all it. The first game (of a road trip), say we’re coming in from Sacramento, we’ll roll into town and we’re (all set). Usually, we’ll have a shootaround before that first game so the gear that the guys wear during shootaround I’ll take to the game and the opposing team will do the laundry. We’ll put the uniforms out and they’ll play. Then, that night, we’ll just take our dirty uniforms to the next city. For example, when teams come to Sacramento, I’ll go to the hotel and meet them there and pick up their stuff. Sometimes I’ll do the laundry that night, or at least get it started, other times I’ll wait until the morning to do it.”
What is your role when the team acquires a new player?
“Usually when the team acquires a player, I will call and find out what kind of shoes they are wearing, or sometimes, I will go online and see what they are wearing. After figuring out the (player’s shoe affiliation), I’ll call that shoe company’s representative. Then, they’ll send whatever they need to get him started to me and I’ll give it to the player.
“The other area I’ll work on for a new player is his (uniform) number. Usually someone in the front office will talk to the new player, so after the conversation, I’ll call to see what number has been requested and (coordinate to) get the jersey made up, and we’re good to go.”
The Kings black alternate uniform was very popular with players and fans last season – can we expect to see more of it in the future?
“Yes, but as of now, we can only wear the black uniform 15 or 16 times through the season.”
Who chooses the games in which the team wears the black uniforms?
“(The Marketing and Branding Departments) pick some of the games. Last year, there were maybe six games where the team kind of made the decision so sometimes I would just do it or I would check with the players. I know when we went to New Orleans Marcus Thornton is from there so he wanted to wear the black uniform. In some cases, we wore them at home, too.”
How many uniforms and shoes does an average player go through in a typical season?
“If we’re just looking at the starters’ uniforms, the road uniforms aren’t too bad because they’re dark colors so they don’t show the wear or stains as much. Whereas the home uniforms, those get dirty, so I switch those out a lot more often. Basically, in any given season, the starters or the guys that are playing the most minutes may wear four or five (home and road) jerseys at the most. It kind of varies. Some guys want to switch it out more often. DeMarcus (Cousins) wears two jerseys and changes at halftime, so in his case you’ll bump that up a little bit. On the road, I’ll carry a back-up uniform and at home there are (extra) jerseys hanging in their locker.”
Are you in charge of putting player names and numbers on the jersey?
“(No), if I was doing the stitching, the numbers would be all over the place! There is a local company here in Sacramento that does it if (it’s a tight turnaround). Most of our jerseys are made up in Portland through adidas. With them, we just make a call and they next-day air it anywhere in the country.”
How many towels does the team go through in a game?
“Usually, on the benches, you’re going to have at least 100 towels for the home team and the visiting team. On our home side, we may cut that easily in half, but on the visiting side they’ll still get the 100 towels, just to make sure they’re covered. Then, after the game, we have to get all that stuff washed and folded.”
Is it part of your role to make sure players are in-line with the NBA’s uniform policy?
“As the season goes on and as you get to know guys, you’ll learn the guys you need to keep an eye on. Here, we haven’t had too much of a problem. I like the League’s idea of kind of keeping it uniform because it eliminates all the other things that players could be taking on the court. Most of the guys, it’s not a big issue – they just want to get out there between the lines and play the game.”
Are any of the players on the team superstitious about their gear?
“Jason Thompson only wore like three different pairs of shoes the whole season and Marcus Thornton wore two, so you literally cannot get them out of their shoes. That’s fine, but sometimes it just surprises me how long they’ll play in them”
Have you ever forgotten or misplaced anything?
“Truthfully, I’ve been lucky. When I was with Dallas, our game pants and game jerseys were stolen in Indianapolis. When I went to shootaround to take the gear to get it washed, I was looking for the bag and I couldn’t find it. We called Detroit, where we played earlier to make sure it wasn’t in their arena, but they didn’t have anything there. We (ultimately) knew it was (in Indianapolis) when we came in because we stacked them all. The good thing is – we had backups.”
Do you have a checklist of things you go through during a given home or away game day?
“Yes, especially during the beginning of the season, I keep a list. Now it’s on my iPhone, which makes it a lot easier. I keep a list of what every player needs or wants for a game and keep it with me.”
What do you do during the offseason?
“I come into (the office) as little as possible! No, there are still a lot of things going on, but it’s just a little bit slower. It’s not like a full day. You put in a full season so you’re putting in a lot of time. During the offseason, they kind of schedule things so you have a block of time and then you’re done. I’ll make sure my orders are going to be taken care of and I’m going to go through everything I’m going to need for the season, make sure everything is going to be ready and that’s really it. There is also a lot of cleanup and re-organizing of some things.”