By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer

Lee Smith

Nearly everyone who enters the front entrance of Golden 1 Center (G1C) during a Sacramento Kings game knows who Lee Smith is just by his rambunctious character and energetic smile. 

For his commitment to exceptional guest services and fan experience for the last seven years, Smith recently earned the prestigious 2022 National Basketball Association Pete Winemiller Guest Experience Innovation Award, the Kings announced.  

“I am honored to be recognized with the Pete Winemiller Guest Experience Innovation Award,” Smith said. “The seven years I have spent with Kings fans and staff have been filled with joy. It is a pleasure to walk through the doors of Golden 1 Center for each event and be immersed in the energy that fills the building.”

The award, announced as part of the NBA Annual Sales and Marketing Awards, honors team staff who innovate to create a world-class experience for fans. 

The award was inspired by the late Pete Winemiller, former Senior Vice President of Guest Relations for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who pioneered a comprehensive approach to guest relations that set standards for the NBA.

“We are thrilled that Lee Smith has been recognized with the 2022 NBA Pete Winemiller Guest Experience Innovation Award,” said Sacramento Kings President of Business Operations John Rinehart. “With his contagious energy and infectious smile, Lee knows how to make fans and guests feel right at home in Golden 1 Center and this well-deserved award truly acknowledges his hard work and unmatched dedication.”

Lee is a member of the Kings’ customer-service program, CLICK (Communicate courteously. Listen to learn. Initiate immediately. Create connections. Know your stuff).

As Ambassadors in the CLICK program, Lee and his colleagues consistently listen to concerns, address them quickly and identify opportunities to enhance the fan experience. 

G1C’s Ambassadors help create a safe, fun and seamless experience for all. Lee leads by example, inspiring those around him and has no issues of going beyond his typical responsibilities. He’s always accessible.

“I love what I am doing and that’s why I am doing it,” Lee once told The OBSERVER before a Kings game. 

In addition to working games and events, Lee assists with special projects, including the training and on-boarding of ambassadors and Sacramento Kings staff. 

His commitment to the Kings and Golden 1 Center goes beyond the workday, with Lee organizing surprises for coworkers, assisting fans while he is a guest in the arena and giving back to the community in his spare time.

“Everyone loves him,” Brenda Alexandra Josan said in a Facebook posting in regard to Smith’s recognition. “He always brings the energy before every single game. Always so full of positivity, too.”