Finnerty's is a small bar on Second Avenue in New York City. Although owned by a couple of native New Yorkers, it has become the de facto home for all Bay Area ex pats.
"Yeah man, it's crazy. It started out with a couple of regulars -- just guys who were obsessed with the 49ers -- and just spiraled from there," Brian, one of the owners, told me as he bought me a delicious local San Francisco Bay Area IPA. "Now, I pay waaaay more attention to all the Bay Area teams. I hardly even check in with New York franchises. But I love it, the crowds are always amazing. It's been crazy the last, what, five, six years? Three World Series, the Super Bowl, two Warriors Finals. I love it!"
We talked about some of the logistics of the night.
"You got, like, a special twitter hashtag or something you want me to use?" I asked.
He thought briefly, "Yo, what about #RoaracleEast?"
I'd come to meet fellow GSOM writer Ivan Bettger, who was in town. I'd come to witness history (hopefully), I'd come to watch the Warriors game surrounded by other die hard fans, and I'd come to live tweet Game 6.
The doorman was a big, friendly dude. He let me charge my phone in an outlet by the door. Fans streamed in off the street. It was about an hour and a half until tip off. As they entered, he checked their ID's, shining a blacklight through, under, and around each license.
"You like working here?" I asked.
He took a young woman's license, checked it, handed it back, "Yeah man. For sure. Cali people are mad chill, you know?"
"But you're from here?"
"Yup. Born and raised in Bed Stuy. Live in Williamsburg now, though."
"So what is it about these Cali folks? I mean, I'm honestly curious. I've been in NY since I was 16, so I feel like I'm half and half, you know?"
"Word, well," he paused checked another ID. A cool breeze blew in off Second Avenue. "For one thing, "these folks is mad cool. Like, if they win, they just celebrate, you know? And if they lose, they just leave. No nothing. No fights. Nothing. New York m'fers, they try and get all up in you. Those dudes will straight fight each other just cuz."
"Word, I can see that. And you've never had a problem here?"
"Nah dog, not once. Cali people are a'ight."
Ivan showed up. Even after doing countless podcasts and speaking together for, quite literally, 20 hours or so, we'd still never actually met (the curse of the millennials, as Nate calls it). I took the opportunity to document the moment.
(Little did we know that these would be the exact same faces we'd make as the Warriors came out and crapped the bed in the first quarter)
Right before tip off, the DJ cut the music ceased and warmup sounds blared over the loudspeakers. Squeaking shoes as players went in for layups. The nervous anticipation of the Cleveland crowd. Suddenly, ABC cut to a close up of LeBron James.
People were yelling things that offended even me, which, okay I get it. I'm kind of soft when it comes to yelling horrible things at people. I mean, I've done it, just like everyone else. But that doesn't mean I'm proud of my past.
(I'm sorry bus driver dude on the L train shuttle bus at the Lorimer stop at 3 am five years ago when the L train was so f'ed up and we all tried to bum rush the first bus that had come in almost 45 minutes and we'd all been standing there sweating in the night time, sticky summer air and you were forcibly pushing people back as you tried to close the doors and I said some mean stuff and flicked you off as you closed the doors and drove away. That was my bad.)
However, as the game commenced, things seemed...off.
The Warriors still hadn't scored any points.
Some minutes in, still no points.
Still, some further minutes in, again, no points.
Wait, what was that?! POINTS????
The Warriors, with less than a minute left in the first quarter, had only scored nine total points. This seemed ill timed and non-fortuitous. Luckily, that bad situation was rectified right before the quarter ended.
DOUBLE DIGIT POINTS YALL EVERYTHING IS FINE— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) June 17, 2016
Things didn't really improve in the second quarter.
"Okay! They're only down by fifteen! They got some energy!" Aka, not something I expected to yell during the second quarter.— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) June 17, 2016
We sat, drinks in hand, trying to explain away the sadness. Where was Stephen Curry? Why were the Warriors sucking so much? How could this be happening?
But, suddenly, the Warriors made a move, opening up a massive run right as Team USA (apparently, I wasn't watching because, duh, Warriors) scored a goal in their Copa America Quarter Final match. I was feeling hella good and hella patriotic, in a delightfully non-political way.
Oh snap, this was getting close! The Warriors, though down 22 points eeeeearly in the game, had pulled to within eight. They were gonna do this we were gonna be champions, again!
But then, the Cavaliers reasserted dominance. LeBron had some insane dunks. Tristan Thompson decided to rebound every rebound. Even though they'd closed the gap at one point to eight points, the Warriors entered the half trailing by 16 (remember this for later).
Suddenly, it was time for our inaugural halftime show. I whipped out my phone, we got a few more drinks, and away we went. I would apologize for the sound, but, you know... We were in a loud ass bar.
That's what you get here at SB Nation. Pure, unfiltered takes. Straight from the source.
My favorite comment on the video feed. I'm really bummed I didn't catch this live:
Dammit Seth. I AM NOT A CROOK! (yet)
Second Favorite question:
"What's the score?"
My answer: "Honestly, I don't remember [Ivan cackles manically]. They're losing by 13, I don't remember what the exact score is."
Ivan: "It's less than ideal, is how I would describe it."
Me: "It's 13...it's 13 points?
Ivan: "I think it was 16. We were in by eight, now we're down by 16. [I clap and start to walk away laughing] But I like your optimism. I like your optimism."
We got more drinks and geared up for the second half.
Things, again, did not start well.
Warriors down 21.— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) June 17, 2016
Strange occurrences started popping up. Curry missed a shot he hits with alarming regularity, Irving was grimacing and hobbling around momentarily, and Andre had to leave the game to receive quick treatment on his ailing back.
But then... But then!!! The Warriors made their run!! Alright, we had this! Only down nine points headed into the fourth! This is gonna happen! WGBC again!
Alright. Warriors only trail 80-71 headed into the fourth quarter. 10-0 run by the Dubs.— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) June 17, 2016
Somewhere in the crowd, I found Nate Parham's best friend. "Yeah man, this jersey is from when I was kid!!" he said. "Not sure how it still fits but it's rad!!"
But -- dammit Nate you were right all along -- I think that dude jinxed everything, because shortly thereafter, this happened:
Soon thereafter, LeBron crashed into Curry, somehow drew the foul on him (ending Curry’s night with six fouls), and then made a point to make sure the refs saw he’d thrown his mouthpiece.
That was a great flop by LeBron too, make sure he came down on Curry's back to get the call— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) June 17, 2016
Hey man, if you're gonna get tossed... F it. Go after a dude.— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) June 17, 2016
Favorite part of that whole exchange?
That dude basically crapped himself as Curry's tiny little mouthguard hurtled towards him.
Other best part of that? The stupid [expletive deleted] is the son of one of the Cavaliers’ minority owners. Well played Steph, well played.
But, regardless of how much satisfaction I took in Steph getting ejected for the first time in his career, going after a ref, and hitting a rich kid with his nasty mouth guard, the game was over by that point, no matter how you sliced it.
We still had to wrap things up though, some undetermined amount of gin and tonics deeper into the night than at the outset.
So what did we learn (other than that if you receive a phone call and multiple texts from a dude looking to gloat and say "I told you so!" halfway through a facebook live session, your phone is liable to go ape and stop working in any sort of functional manner)?
If you're going to watch the Warriors lose, and you have to be in a large, crowded room, you might as well be at Finnerty's. Even though there were a few Cavaliers fans in attendance (which, c'mon, really? Why? Why would you do that? There are literally a thousand bars outside. You're just creating mischief in that situation), nothing more than a few choice words were exchanged. Warriors fans handled themselves with dignity and class, even in defeat. Sure, people were f'ing bummed. But so was I after watching the Warriors drop their second consecutive potential close out game.
What else did we learn?
Ivan is a good dude. Y'all should continue to listen to our podcasts. I can only imagine they will get even wilder now that we've actually officially met for the first time and shared some laughs, some tears, and some drinks.
Dammit I am nervous about this upcoming Game 7. I really thought the Warriors would win in Cleveland the other night. Hell, I thought they'd win in Oakland before that. But here we are.
Either way, we'll witness history tomorrow night. Either the Warriors will win, and become potentially the greatest team in history. Or, the Cavaliers will win and become the only team to ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals. Either way, the NBA season will come to an end. It has been a hell of a ride. One more game. All the cards are on the table. All the moves have been made. It's come down to this.
I can't wait.