Like life teaches us, all good things must come to an end. Don’t be sad it’s over, be glad it happened.
As the Golden State Warriors lost to the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals Thursday night, not only did they drop the curtain on their season, they also ended the final act on what made the Warriors special in the first place – their humble beginnings.
The end of the Warriors’ first season without a title since 2017 signals the official beginning of a move across the Bay to San Francisco as they’ll tip off the 2019-2020 season in the brand-new Chase Center in October, just up 3rd St. from Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.
For those who are outside of the Bay Area, moving just 11 miles in the same general area may not seem like much. But for many here, especially for those who grew up with the Warriors through the good and the bad times in Oakland – the “Run TMC” years to the struggles in the late ’90s and early 2000’s where the mascot Thunder was the lone highlight of a night best described and advertised as “A Great Time Out” as people came to see the other teams like the Lakers play the Warriors, to the “We Believe” 2007 run, back to the struggles and now to the current “Strength in Numbers” dynasty – those 11 miles might as well seem like the other side of the country rather than the other side of the Bay Bridge.
In ways, the Warriors have “made it” to the big time from Oakland, simply because you just don’t make it to the big time by staying in an overlooked city like Oakland. At least, that’s the thought (hell, even the Raiders are leaving).
Since the turn of the decade, the Dubs struggled, they scraped by, they got themselves together, they got theirs, and now they got their way out.
They became just the second team in NBA history to reach five straight NBA Finals, winning three of them, a feat in itself. They’ve transformed from the afterthought and doormat of the NBA to its current royal family, all while thriving within their humble confines of Oracle Arena, an outdated concrete-looking circle easily reachable for the public by BART and just a 10-minute walk from the BART train station, around the Coliseum to the doors.
It wasn’t perfect, state-of-the-art, or pretty to look at from the outside or inside, but for the generations of Warriors fans and the team’s alumni, it was home – full of memories, moments, and especially since 2014, excitement.
Even through all of the recent success, media attention and overall massive increase in international popularity, the team still practices and holds its offices on the top floors of the Marriott hotel at the Oakland convention center.
No non-basketball fan knew much if anything about the Warriors before 2014. They couldn’t tell you who Jason Richardson was, or Andris Biedrins, and they probably didn’t know Chris Webber started his career with the Warriors, or that the winningest coach in NBA history, Don Nelson, coached, – you guessed it – the Warriors (twice) and led them to one of the biggest upsets in NBA history toward the end of his career.
Nowadays, a Stephen Curry Warriors jersey can be spotted anywhere around the world outside of the Bay Area, from the subways of New York City to as far as China and the Philippines. The Warriors now are what the Lakers were in the 2000’s and the Bulls the decade before them. They officially made it.
The Warriors have an interesting history when it comes to San Francisco. The move across the Bay is and isn’t new for the franchise. They first moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco in 1962 after the NBA-ABA merger and were originally called the San Francisco Warriors, although they played no home games in San Francisco. They played games in mostly Oakland and a few in San Diego, Bakersfield, and even San Jose before calling Oracle home in 1971.
To their credit, since the Warriors broke ground on the Chase Center in 2017, they’ve tried to do their best to pay homage to Oakland. They have special black jerseys that have “The Town” on the front, Stephen Curry has an ad campaign at the Coliseum BART station that thanks Oakland for his 10 years there, his first decade in the NBA, and Thursday night’s Game 6 featured a rally towel giveaway that pays tribute to Oakland and Kevin Durant with a design that reads “For KD. For Oakland.”
Their new palace of the Chase Center is fitting for a team that went from no true stars to a superteam that signed two of the game’s biggest stars in recent years in Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, thus “ruining” the game. In ways, it’s poetic that the final game at Oracle could see the beginning of the end of Golden State’s golden era.
It also marks the change to elitism the Warriors have grown into due to their success. What was once accessible and local is no longer that. What was once humble and exciting has become a show full of stars in the bright lights coming soon to a state of the art, billion-dollar arena right by the Bay. Like just about every other sport, real fans that used to enjoy every game were priced out by those who can afford to go to games, who are there almost solely for their Instagram moment.
Numerous staff members from the arena won’t be making the move across the Bay due to commuting reasons, costing people jobs, many fans won’t be making the trips to the new Chase Center not just because of the cost of tickets, but also beause of the commute. The Chase Center isn’t as accessible as Oracle – fans would have to take BART to Embarcadero and switch to the MUNI train to take another 15-20 minute ride past Oracle Park and to the Chase Center, adding more cost to traveling to the arena, pending where you’re commuting from, roughly $20 round trip, give or take. Driving to the arena is a hassle as well as Chase Center isn’t easily accessible by car, then when you toss in typical Bay Area traffic and parking costs, driving to San Francisco for games seems like a non-option.
The Warriors’ history will always remain inside the confines and within the grounds of the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. They will start a new chapter in franchise history in San Francisco. The colors will remain the same, the team, more or less, will remain the same, but the memories of Warriors great and worst moments are now backstage, packed away in boxes and crates after the curtain dropped one last time Thursday night.
“Roaracle” had one last roar in a losing effort. It was a roar proud of its culture, its humble beginnings and was better than any great time out.