"Kincheloe sports-crisis zone. Bring your own beer, sit down, and shut up. It's the Warriors, dammit."
My step-mother, Lisa, had a funny soft spot for the Warriors. Really, for sports in general. She gave us endless shit about watching too many games, and would fake-pout anytime we'd hunker down in front of a television.
But in the end, she always fell in love with one or two of the players.
"Oh, that's my boyfriend," she'd joke and bat her eyes.
During the insane "We Believe" run, she wrote a sign on a piece of dirty white construction paper that read, "Kincheloe sports-crisis zone. Bring your own beer, sit down, and shut up. It's the Warriors dammit," and taped it to the door that connected the garage to the kitchen. She grumbled about the yelling, laughed at our emotional need for the team to succeed. But, ultimately, she joined in, sat on the couch, arm around my father, and screamed at the TV just as loud as us every time something happened.
I hadn't thought about that sign until yesterday, when I heard the news that Jason Richardson was retiring.
Through all the ups and downs of Warrior-dom in the early part of this century, Jason Richardson was the one constant. He was our superstar. He was our savior. He was the one shining, athletically gifted light amongst a team full of Danny Fortsons, Eric Dampiers and Chris Millss. He jumped higher than anyone. He tried harder than anyone.
When the Warriors went on that fateful run in 2007, it was Richardson who carried the emotional burden of all those long years of failure. Sure, Monta Ellis was coming into his own. The trade for Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington had succeeded far beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Baron Davis was dunking on fools.
But J Rich was OUR GUY. Or, at least, he was my guy. He was my dad's guy. And he ended up being Lisa's guy too.
The house in San Mateo where we watched that miracle run still stands, but my dad was long ago priced out by rising rents. Too damn close to Silicon Valley.
The sign that Lisa made is somewhere, hopefully. Folded up in a box. Maybe in storage.
She died not too long after that. None of our lives have ever been the same.
It's funny how sports seep into your world. How they connect you to memories buried deep.
Thank you for everything, Jason. And thank you for making me remember such a happy time in my life.
Best of luck to you with whatever comes your way.
And for the rest of us, let's always remember to bring our own beer, sit down, and shut up.
It's the Warriors, dammit.