Although it’s technically a holiday for workers, Labor Day generally heralds the end of summer. But it isn’t the end of summer. This holiday is special in that it memorializes an ending while still allowing the broader reality to go on existing. Even as we look back on the halcyon days of backyard BBQs and lazy evenings, we get to spend today creating new memories, like this one before packing the kids off to school tomorrow.
As we approach the beginning of the season (with the first preseason game commencing in just about four weeks), I sit here sipping my beer out of a frosty mug and snacking on some chips, drawing a lot of parallels between Labor Day and what could be the Warriors’ penultimate season at Oracle Arena.
As we all know, the Warriors are currently working on a shiny new arena on the silicone-gilded shores of San Francisco, slated to be ready in time for the 2019 season. And, much like my IPA, there’s a hint of bitterness about the Warriors’ imminent departure from Oracle, even as I enjoy these final sips of both.
I am not exactly sure when I first attended a game at Oracle. Maybe fifth grade? I do remember that it was during the Run TMC days, so at least we have the general timing. My dad, my big brother, and I made the long drive down from Sonoma County. As excited children do, I kept asking about any large building, “Is that Oracle!?” … “No son, that’s a warehouse.”
The coolest part of this memory for me is how long-standing the emotions are. I may not remember the final score, or even the opponent, but what I do remember is looking up those long stairs at the entrance. It was like a castle (and I was/am obsessed with wizards and knights). It felt like I was ascending into some magical world. We got in through the door and I ran straight ahead. That’s not where our seats were but I just had to get a look!
It was a pretty sweet payoff. Maybe it’s the yellow all around, or maybe there really is some magic in there, but I swear that there was a certain glow as I gazed down at the court. You can see the stadium seats spread out like some kind of Olympic arena And waaaay down there, somehow too small and at the same time too large, were all my favorite basketball players. Shooting around, warming up and stretching, a couple of them just chatting it up with a teammate. It hit me hard: I was there.
And I think what seeded that day still lives strong inside me now. Every single time I get to Oracle I find myself walking extra fast as I approach. And just like that first time, I always take a moment at the bottom of that gigantic flight of stairs leading up to the arena to let it all soak in. I still walk straight across from the door to steal a peek at the court below
,. And, damn it all, if it still doesn’t feel magical to me.
Now, much like my little bowl of chips, our time at Oracle is just about done. And also, like my beer, there’s still something left there for us. Probably some of the greatest memories we’ll have as Warriors’ fans are likely to occur at Oracle before the Warriors pack up and head across the bridge that they made into their team logo.
So, savor this upcoming season, my fellow Warriors’ fans! As you enjoy this holiday with your family and/or friends, I hope you will spare a thought or two to the final chapters of the Oracle story. I don’t know what the new SF stadium is going to be like, but the team has got to create its own memories there. For now, let’s savor the dregs of our time at Oracle.
There are still memories to be made, history to be written, and we are all going to be a part of it all! Not a Labor Day, but more of a Labor Season (or two). This upcoming season feels like a special time for all of us Warriors fans. So enjoy it like a BBQ on a warm sunny afternoon, savoring not just the memories, but the historical inertia of our time watching this team play at Oracle. There’s a special magic that can only happen on the tail end of an experience. And, I for one, am ready for summer to end already so we can watch the magic happen.