“And then someone said, ‘Well, maybe we can play a game there,’” said Heverling, who oversees the day-to-day operations of the AT&T Center, where the Spurs now play their home games. “And then someone else said, ‘Does anyone know what the largest attendance is for an N.B.A. game?’”
The answer was 62,046 for a game on March 27, 1998, when Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls faced the Atlanta Hawks at the Georgia Dome. One caveat: The 2010 N.B.A. All-Star Game at Cowboys Stadium, a retractable-roof colossus in Arlington, Texas, now known as AT&T Stadium, drew an announced crowd of 108,713. But the attendance record for a regular-season game seemed possible to Spurs officials.
“I’m convinced there’s no other community in the country that would show up like San Antonio has shown up for this team,” said Becky Kimbro, the team’s senior vice president for brand engagement.
Still, any fears that Kimbro might have had about fans’ showing up were eased in early September, when the Spurs sold nearly 25,000 tickets on the day they were made available to the general public. In recent weeks, the team unleashed a final advertising blitz by flooding the airwaves and social media. (Props to anyone from San Antonio who somehow avoided hearing about the game.)
“We pulled pretty much every lever in the marketing handbook,” Kimbro said.
On Thursday, Golden State practiced at the Alamodome to get used to the environment. Coach Steve Kerr, who used to play for the Spurs there, said it was a bit “draftier” than a normal arena. At least two of his players, however, were familiar with its unusual atmosphere. DiVincenzo and Jordan Poole faced each other at the Alamodome in the 2018 N.C.A.A. men’s championship game. DiVincenzo scored 31 points to lead Villanova past Michigan (and Poole) in front of 67,831 fans.
“It put me on the radar,” DiVincenzo said.
One of the oddest parts of that experience, he said, was running out from the locker room to take the court — because it took forever. The court might as well have been in a different city.