Get a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process behind the symbolic relic. Plus, find out how players, broadcasters and fans have embraced the shield.
Shortly before Kings players stepped on the court in front of a sellout crowd on Monday, a new tradition originated in Sacramento.
The Shield of Defiance was unveiled on the concourse outside Section 101, giving fans the unique opportunity to touch the emblematic artifact for luck prior to every game.
“Tradition is one of the things that makes sports so great and so connective from generation to generation,” says Kings Senior Vice President of Broadcasting, New Media and Brand Development Craig Amazeen, the visionary behind the re-branding of the Kings.
Amazeen, along with his creative team and local design firm Elevendy, spent the past year-and-a-half crafting and perfecting the re-branding initiative that includes the 36-by-52-inch iron shield. And he’s hopeful the tradition of touching the Shield of Defiance can organically grow into the likes of the “Lambeau Leap” in Green Bay, Wis. or singing of “Sweet Caroline” during the eighth inning of Boston Red Sox games at Fenway Park.
“I think this is going to be a really special tradition, where hopefully 20, 30, 40 years from now,” he says. “Dads are walking on the concourse, taking their kids and saying, ‘I touched the Shield of Defiance 20 years ago.’”
At the official unveiling, Kings Radio Broadcaster Gary Gerould and Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reynolds – each of whom has been with the organization since the team’s inaugural season in The River City – placed their hands on the relic as P.A. Announcer Scott Moak recited an introduction for all forthcoming fans.
“I think it’s really, really cool – it’s a nice tradition to start and hopefully it carries over,” said Reynolds. “I’m thrilled to be part of it.”
Gerould, who afterward posed for photos with numerous excited fans in front of the shield, was equally honored to join Reynolds at the presentation.
“I really hope fans get into this because I love sports traditions and I love little things that bond fans together, and I think this can absolutely do that,” he said.
“I’m impressed with the creativity and artwork that went into making (the shield) – it’s a piece of art, and it’s really cool!”
Striving for authenticity in the final product and its representation, Amazeen and his creative group sought skilled artists to capture the emotional connection between fans and the team.
“We came up with the Spirit King, representing the embodiment of all Kings fans, players, coaches – anyone connected to or cares about the team,” he says. “With that, we defined six relics, all of which have something special to do with what we stand for and who are we.”
The Shield of Defiance immediately resonated with Kings personnel and players – who’ve commonly placed their hands on the identical symbolic entity outside the locker room.
“Everyone comes out and at least touches it right before a game,” says guard Marcus Thornton. “I hope it gives us some magical powers to get a win (on a given night).”
Forward James Johnson views the relic as a good luck charm and has embraced its background and meaning.
“For me, it just represents what we’re protecting,” says No. 52. “It’s a big shield and it’s protecting our locker room and our house, and that’s just like how a warrior or a knight would use his shield for protection in a big fight or a big war.”
To create the final artifact, Amazeen and Kings Director of Creative Services Casey Catlett brought in local artist Terrence Martin of Jagged Edge Metal Art to create the shield from scratch.
“We wanted it to be as realistic as possible and also represent all of the elements within our branding,” says Catlett. “There are a lot of little icons on there, such as the six rivets, which represent our Sixth Man.
“There’s also the lion, which is not one of our relics, but is an icon we created to represent how brave-hearted our fans are. Plus, since Slamson is the team’s mascot, we put a heraldic lion on there.”
“The Shield of Defiance is really the connective, iconic brand principle of our city,” adds Amazeen. “We are a city that just stands up and, as a small market, we defy the odds all the time.”
Catlett explains the shield’s intricate design includes elements of the team’s purple and black color scheme, while maintaining its authentic presentation.
“We have a little bit of a purple hue in there, which was created from a tint that was applied to the metal,” he says. “Also, Terrence Martin used a torch to burnish the edges and give it a really rich gradient on the edge of the metal.”
In order to give the 48-pound relic the look of a battled-tested shield from the Middle Ages, the creative team used hammers and chains to ding and indent the metal, while also attaching era-specific leather straps on the back.
“Our actual primary logo is referred to as a shield, and our logo designer, Tom O’Grady, was inspired by a shield and a lot of heraldic flags and elements of the day,” says Catlett. “So when we were trying to figure out what kind of piece we wanted our primary mark to live on, it felt appropriate for it to be a shield.”
For Amazeen, the chance to collaborate on an exciting project with top designers has proven to be one of the most rewarding experiences of his career.
“The ability to unify all of the extremely talented, creative people we have in the building on all the different teams with incredibly talented artists who we brought into the mix has been special,” he says. “It’s one of the first times we’ve had a comprehensive team effort among all of these different creative departments that brought everyone together.”
Amazeen and Co. began shaping the story and mythology in July 2011 – prior to releasing the team’s alternate black Jersey of Prestige on opening night in December – and plan to launch each of the remaining relics over the course of time.
“We’ve completed the Helmet of Fortitude, and we have the Sword of Thunder and Book of Honor in the making,” says the Kings senior vice president. “But the ring will not be made until we win the championship.
“It’s the Ring of Hope, and everyone’s ultimate hope – while it starts with just hoping you’re going to have fun at the game to hoping you’re going to watch the team win – is a championship. Someday, we’ll find the Ring of Hope, align all six relics and have Kings utopia.”
Attending an upcoming Kings home game? Tag your Twitter or Instagram photo with the team’s sacred relic on the concourse near Section 101 with #ShieldofDefiance for a chance to be featured on Kings TV, Kings.com and team social media channels!