OAKLAND, Calif. — Fans at a January NBA game between the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings saw more than a riveting overtime contest. They also learned about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Close to 1,200 Latter-day Saints were among the 18,000 fans present at the Jan. 21, 2011, contest. Church members were there to participate in the Warriors-sponsored "LDS Family and Friends Night."
As the large crowd in the Oakland Coliseum waited for tip-off, Elder Robert N. Packer, an Area Seventy for Northern California, and Tom Holmoe, BYU's athletic director, presented Warriors head coach Keith Smart with his framed family tree and a binder filled with supporting family history documents. During this presentation, the announcer read a 30-second public service announcement about the importance of families and the Oakland Family History Center located on temple grounds in the area.
Following their performance at last year's "LDS Family and Friends Night," full-time missionaries from the California Oakland-San Francisco Mission were invited back to sing the national anthem at the start of the game. Thirty missionaries marched to center court and provided a stellar rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner."
A pregame program also highlighted youths of the LDS Church and its ongoing friendship with the Catholic Church. Twenty young Latter-day Saint men scrimmaged with a team made up of players from a local Catholic parish. This Latter-day Saint vs. Catholic scrimmage highlighted the fact that the West Coast Conference will now feature several match-ups between BYU and Bay Area Catholic universities.
After the game, hundreds of the Latter-day Saint fans remained at the Oakland Coliseum to participate in a "Chalk Talk" with Holmoe. He provided information and answered questions from interested fans about BYU going independent for football and into the West Coast Conference for other sports.
This event was organized by the Oakland-San Francisco Public Affairs Council of the LDS Church. Linnea Weller of the Danville Stake, assisted by Amy McNeil of the San Francisco West Stake, worked closely with the Warriors and is planning similar events with the Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants major league baseball teams. Not only do these "LDS Family and Friends Nights" provide a fun and affordable evening out for families, but the sports organizations and their fans leave with a much better understanding of who members of the church are and the values they hold.