Two or three times a year, I tell my friends (and myself) that this season will be my last as a Warriors fan. It’s like a pathetic, tri-annual, tradition full of gross self-pity and empty promises. But as a beleaguered Dubs fan of 23ish years, empty promises sort of come with the membership. “I’m done! It’s just too difficult,” I usually say. And it is. Especially when you live away from the Bay Area and have to pay $40/month for the pleasure of seeing your guys suck on NBA League Pass.
As any transplanted sports fan can attest, it’s really, really hard following your favorite lousy basketball team year in and year out without the catharsis of shared misery that living in a hometown so readily provides. With no hopeful fans deluding each other en masse or homer TV announcers and sports talk radio hosts rationalizing away ineptitude, you’re forced to see your team, and your favorite players, unemotionally -- boiled down to silly things like win-loss records, box scores and stat lines. Y’know? Quantifiable data?
What makes this infinitely worse for me is that I live and work in Los Angeles. You just have to believe me when I tell you there is no worse place for a Warrior fan than LA, where we, the long-suffering (who also happen to hate the Lakers and Clippers on principle), have to listen to pseudo sports fans with ironic mustaches and cold weather beanies in 85-degree weather pontificate about the greatness of Kobe Bryant and the possibility of one day signing LeBron Fucking James all year long.
Last year sucked. After “the trade,” what felt like the Warriors’ 9,875th multi-game-losing streak and the mockery our owner and fans, alike, made of the great Chris Mullin’s jersey retirement ceremony, I thought it might actually be a good time to finally pull the plug. But, as I have done so often in the past, I talked myself down by remembering that Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are good – potentially great – young players, that Jerry West is marginally involved in the Warrior front office (as if that still means something) and that better days have to – I repeat: HAVE TO – be in the offing.
Like all masochistic Warriors fans, I read the comprehensive column Bill Simmons wrote for Grantland chronicling just how thoroughly the Warriors had fucked me – and every other fan – with their institutional incompetence for the last three decades. Long forgotten names like Todd Fuller, Victor Alexander, and Alton Listor, among countless others, came rushing back into my brain the same way I imagine repressed memories of alone time with creepy Uncle Stanley resurface for folks in deep psychotherapy.
I was overcome with determination to end this abusive, one-sided, farce of a relationship once and for all. I referenced my good pals Google and Basketball-Reference.com to confirm the long list of on-court and front office travesties I had stored in my head over the years, looking up exact dates and details like an angry wife digging up dirt on her philandering husband before a divorce proceeding. My mission to break up with the Warriors was going swimmingly. And then the 2012-2013 season began.
There was something about the way this team carried itself – with a weird combination of youthful swagger and, at times, youthful ineptitude – that sucked me back into paying for yet another expensive season of NBA League Pass. I reveled in the great start, the emergence of Steph Curry into a genuine superstar and the development of the three rookies – Barnes, Green and Ezeli – as legit contributors on a (hopefully) playoff-bound team. Not that there weren’t the usual bouts of frustration –with Klay Thompson’s maddening fits of low confidence play, with the back court’s collective allergy to the free throw line and the team’s inability to beat the goddamn Rockets. But all in all, this was a hugely entertaining Warriors season. And the best part? It’s still going.
Before the playoffs began, I thought about the euphoria that swept the Bay Area in 2007 after the Warriors clinched their first playoff seed in thirteen years. I remembered how for two weeks that spring, there was not a single thing I would’ve rather done than watch the Warriors dismantle the Dallas Mavericks with the most exciting alley-oops, and-ones and ill-advised three pointers imaginable. Forty five minutes later, my YouTube viewing history had been populated with clips of Timmy Hardaway’s killer crossover, Chris Mullin’s sweet lefty jumper, Sarunas Marciulionis’ bull-headed drives and even Gilbert Arenas’ proud Warrior-jersey-popping after winning the 2003 Rookie/Sophomore Game’s MVP award.
It suddenly became as clear to me as the wretched plastic surgery performed on Meg Ryan’s face: there was no way I could ever truly abandon the Warriors. Because being a Warrior fan, regardless of how herculean an endeavor that may be at times, means wearing the scarlet letter of failure proudly, always maintaining hope for basketball redemption despite history, logic and a city-full of douchebag Laker fans screaming “your team sucks balls!” right in your face. So go ahead, mock my team. Mock me. I can take it. I’m a Warrior fan; I can take anything. At least until next season, when I decide to quit the team for good. Again. Probably.