Oracle fans, fandom and why bandwagoning isn't so bad

USA TODAY Sports

It's playoff time in the Bay Area and so there's your usual complaints about bandwagoners and how us "true fans" hate them and how they have no place cheering for OUR team. It's time to toss in a little stream-of-consciousness stuff.

Oracle Arena played host to Game 3 and Game 4 of the Golden State Warriors-Denver Nuggets series. And just like they did four years ago, the place was a cosmic boom emanating from every nook and cranny in the building, and throughout the Bay Area.

Fans who arrived early, and there were thousands, stood and cheered during pre-game introductions, crescending into a roar that has aptly named the crowd "Roaracle".

This may not be the same atmosphere as the one in 2007—that one was unique and felt different in its own way—when the Baron Davis-led team sparked the Warriors to an epic upset against the Dallas Mavericks, but it's lived up to the hype. This is becoming a bit of a Bay Area feature in the early 2000s; upstart team makes the playoffs and the world is tuned into a crowd that's unlike anything they've ever heard or witnessed.

(video courtesy of @poormanscommish 's youtube channel)

What about those so-called laid-back Californians? Screw the surfboards and volleyballs, the crowds are a throbbing mass of screams and pure elation. The San Francisco Giants did it in 2010 en route to its World Series, orange-ing out its crowd and providing unbridled joy from the pent-up frustrations of a struggling franchise. Then the Giants did it again in 2012, albiet a less spontaneous storyline, but with the same excitement reverberating through AT&T Park and the city.

The Oakland A's enjoyed the same scene and probably should have gained more notoriety if they hadn't lost in the first round. Even the San Jose Sharks have enjoyed success through their numerous playoff chokejobs. And just wait until the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers play their last game at Candlestick Park this year.

But all this is a long-winded approach in probing through the mindset of most fans in the Bay Area. I remember walking through the streets and into AT&T Park in their first playoff run and hearing people complain of "bandwagon fans". If you don't know what that means (then you're probably one yourself but thanks for reading!), it's the definition of people who don't necessarily have a vested interest in the local sports team but come out in droves when the games matter a bit more—rocking their freshly bought Stephen Curry jerseys and Instagramming their first time at a ballgame.

"Who do these people think they are? Do they even know who Mike Dunleavy is? Ike Diogu used to be an untouchable trade piece! And wait, you were mad that the Warriors traded Monta Ellis? Why is Jessica Alba here?"

Though I highly doubt anyone argued against more Jessica Alba screen time in 2007.

Maybe some of these examples aren't as dated as it seems—you'll have to excuse my age if I don't remember the adventures of P.J. Carlesimo—but it doesn't deter the nature of these exclamations tossed around come playoff time. Us fans who stayed up late at night looking up the Euroleague statistics of Marco Belinelli after draft night sure aren't happy about the people who show up to games that may not remember what college Curry attended, or so it seems.

That's normal. Long-suffering fans band together, like Jack and John Locke on Lost, and refuse the ventures of anyone that isn't in our "inner circle". That used to be me; I was that guy, amongst others, that rejected the outpouring of support for our favorite sports team. There was a faux special connection between the team and those fans who've stuck with them through the woeful times. At least, that's what we told ourselves. Through the stubbornness of my fandom, I felt that cheering for a 21-44 team on a Friday night made me a "better" fan that deserved the ability to belittle others who chose to go out for a beer instead.

But after going through the first wave of Warriors' relative playoff success in 2007, the Giants, 49ers and now in 2013, I've come across one thought: who cares? Let people who've never watched basketball and don't understand a pick-and-roll enjoy the game. I've always wondered why soccer fans hate it when Americans try to learn the sport or make statements pertaining to their beloved game; it's the same reason why some of the blog-happy "hardcore fans" resent others who aren't suffering in the same tight-knit community they've grown accustomed to.

It may feel counterintuitive as to why some fans might want to keep their long-suffering team all to themselves but trust me, it makes sense.

It's a unique situation with this franchise because the Warriors have struggled to find an identity that's superficially reflective of the fans that fill the seats on a nightly basis. I may be narrowing this piece towards a selective minority of a fanbase that dislikes bandwagon fans but I'd advocate extrapolating this towards the term as a whole.

If the team is good, people will show up—well, unless you're in Atlanta.

The sense of fandom is a fickle thing; we tend to get a prickly when ESPN refuses to lede their show with another Stephen Curry nuclear explosion , instead tossing out another Tim Tebow headline first. We refuse to allow ourselves the awkwardness of objectivity, instead anointing our team as the problem. Why did Jarrett Jack miss that layup? It definitely wasn't the great defense but just the poor decision he made.

Anger, depression and frustration are all common traits of your standard Golden State Warriors fan.

And on Friday and Sunday night, even though I couldn't make it to the games, I felt the frustration during the earlier regimes spill out, over and over again. Did some of them boo Joe Lacob for trading Monta Ellis? Probably. Did any of them recall the trials and tribulations of Don Nelson's last run as a head coach? Maybe not.

But it doesn't matter. The decibel level and fan frenzy felt so intense that it made Draymond Green and Kent Bazemore's celebrations feel muted. The team played. But the fans put on a show.

Categorize fans however you may but there's no disputing this; you all came together over the weekend to form the best crowd in the NBA. And if the Warriors don't play the Denver Nuggets at home this week, we'd like to do this fan stuff again against the San Antonio Spurs.

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