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Why we are Warriors fans

SB Nation asked each site in the network to share stories about why they are fans of the team they write about. While many people complain that Golden State Warriors fans are just a bunch of bandwagoners, I think you’ll find that we at Golden State of Mind have slightly different motivations. 

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the refreshed Golden State of Mind! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. And we’re offering a little incentive for those of you who would like to share your stories in our FanPost section.

If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts section to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well.

To give you some ideas, Bram, Tamryn and I have shared our stories in response to the question we were given: Why are you a Golden State Warriors fan?

We look forward to reading your stories as well.

Bram: The simplest answer may be that I happened to be born in San Francisco, California in 1986 to parents who were both (converted) Warriors fans. Actually, for the record, I became a Warriors fan May 24th, 1986, which means as of today I have been a fan for exactly 31 years. But of course, answers are never that easy.

Why did I love a team that was so, so dreadful for most of my childhood? Why did I agonize over the Joe Smith draft, even as it happened? I wanted Jerry Stackhouse, but any of the next four guys would have been SOOOOO MUUUUUUCH BETTTTTTTER it makes my heart hurt, even to this day.

Why did I feel hurt and lonely when Stephen Curry couldn’t seem to get over his ankle injuries? Why did I actually cry with one of my best friends when the Warriors finally won the championship in 2015? Why did I jump out of my chair, run laps around the outside of my parent-in-law’s house, and scream into the sky when Kevin Durant announced he was coming west? I don’t know. That’s the beauty of sports.

Asking someone why they are a fan of their hometown team is like asking someone why they have dreams of flying. I mean, you can’t explain it. None of us have ever (seriously if you have, I need your secrets) learned how to actually fly. And yet, we’ve all had vivid, strange dreams in which we are floating high above the earth, serene in our detachment or skyrocketing towards the furthest corners of the horizon. Loving a team is much the same. If it’s true — if it is a true part of your core being — you have no way to break down the why/how/where of your fandom. It’s just a part of you that has always been there, and will always be there, no matter what happens with your team.

That’s why it’s been frustrating and downright depressing watching the nation and the world turn against the Warriors since last summer’s 3-1 debacle. I mean, I get it, people love to watch the world burn, love to watch successful people crash and fail. I mean, why else have things in our lives like Britney Spears? But, as a fan of this team that y’all so deeply love to mock, it still surprises me that you even care. I mean, this is the Warriors that we’re talking about. Not the Lakers or the whoever or really any other team. After 30 plus years of mostly horrible basketball, I’m trained to expect heartache and disappointment from my favorite team. It’s amazing — to this day — how quickly they’ve turned into a world-ending powerhouse. It unnerves me, almost.

So, get off your jokes while you can. I’m just happy that my team — my hometown Warriors!! are even relevant, let alone the best team in the universe.

Tamryn: I grew up in the Carolinas and lived in Charlotte for a time, as an adult. Anyone who follows college basketball knows that North Carolina is the center of the college hoops universe. Instead of having employees completing brackets and making wagers on the clock, it might be better to just make the entire month of March a state holiday and shut everything down.

Before I was a college hoops fan, I was Magic-era Lakers fan and then a Jordan-era Bulls fan. I watched the game with my dad and pretty much cheered for whoever he did -- at first. But when Jordan entered his prime, I began to understand the artistry of the game and from that point forward was obsessed with the beautiful sport of basketball.

As much as I loved some of the superstar teams, I also am a fan of underdogs. They appear on my radar even when I’m not looking for them and I can’t help but throw my full energy into cheering them on. During the Sweet Sixteen round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament, an undersized sharpshooter named Stephen Curry tallied 33 points to propel Davidson into the Elite Eight -- the first time the Wildcats advanced that far in tournament play since the late-1960s! The Wildcats lost the Elite Eight game by just two points. But making it that far as a tenth-seed small school was quite an accomplishment.

When it was time for Curry to go to the NBA, he was counted out before he even began. Everyone by now is familiar with language on his scouting reports about his so-called lack of leadership to “quarterback” a team and his being an undersized guard, resulting in him being picked seventh overall in the 2009 NBA Draft, after the likes of Jonny Flynn, Tyreke Evans and Ricky Rubio. So, Curry was an underdog in college and he entered the NBA an underdog, too ... which made me root for him and the Warriors even harder.

Like many, I feared Curry’s recurring ankle injuries would derail his career. But once he got the ankles right, the underdog began to reach his potential, smash records, win awards and a championship and, summarily, put all the doubters to shame.

Nate P.: I am a Golden State Warriors fan because I am a sucker who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I was actually a sports fan before I became a basketball fan and a NBA fan before I became a Warriors fan. As much as it pains me to admit it now, I was enamored with the Showtime Lakers while watching games with my dad as a kid and, eventually, both my younger brother and I became a fan of the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons … because any team that could challenge the hated Boston Celtics AND stop Michael Jordan has to be something special, right? Plus, I wasn’t especially tall so watching Isiah Thomas do his thing in a game of giants was nothing short of inspirational (the first number I ever wore in basketball was #10 — #11 was unavailable so I went with Dennis Rodman’s number instead).

Then my dad eventually decided to take us to a Warriors game to see the NBA in person. And the first game I remember seeing in person was a 121-116 overtime loss to the Seattle Supersonics on March 8, 1988. I can’t really remember a thing about that game or that roster now — or even if it was the first game my dad took me to — but I can tell you that I got hooked on the experience of being at the arena, yelling for my hometown team, and the rush of watching a game go to overtime.

As my dad took us to more and more games, I started actually falling in love with that familiar team led by Chris Mullin instead of the visiting attraction. And though the team was never especially dominant or anything, they played at a relatively fast pace, Mullin was becoming a bigger star locally, and MANUTE BOL..THEY HAD A 7-FOOT-7 DUDE FROM AFRICA. I mean, what wasn’t there to like about these guys?

That was all before Run TMC came along.

As a kid, Run TMC just seemed like they could do anything together. Of course, there was absolutely no evidence to prove any of that. But when they advanced to the second round of the 1991 playoffs against the Lakers — they were on the same stage as SHOWTIME — I was convinced this would be the next big thing. One more piece, a little more experience, and this team would eventually have to overtake the Lakers as the best thing since sliced bread, right? They kept getting better and more exciting so they had to get better, right?

Again, I don’t have any specific memories of Run TMC in the way I do of the 80’s San Francisco Niners or the Oakland A’s, who were already competing for championships annually at that time. But I also started to really take to basketball and the fact that I felt I was watching something big unfold in front of my eyes whenever I went to the Coliseum.

Then my family’s house burned down in the 1991 Oakland Hills fire and my relationship to basketball intensified dramatically.

When you literally lose everything except the clothes on your back and the car you fled in at 12-years-old — two weeks after I lost the only grandmother I knew, who also helped raise me — you’re suddenly left looking to make sense of what life is without material things just as you’re trying to figure out why the hell your voice is cracking. For me, I began to lose myself in basketball.

We had never lived in a neighborhood with a basketball court before that point, but now I had a court in walking distance from my house. With my growing interest in basketball being one of the few things that I had left aside from friends and family (there’s a deeper conversation about religion to be had here that I’ll withhold for these purposes), the court became my refuge. I would stay at the courts until they turned the lights out imagining I was this player or that and just sort of ignoring that my life was otherwise in turmoil. The Warriors simply became an extension of that refuge.I began coaching my brother’s team at the community center with my dad and we would talk for hours after the games about what went wrong and what we could do better. And it’s not at all exaggeration to say that I poured all my hopes, dreams, and imaginative energy into that team because dreaming makes a lot of sense when reality really doesn’t.

By the time the Warriors drafted Chris Webber there was no turning back for me. I watched the draft with dad, was excited to go to games, and knew my investment in this team was deeper than ever. Basketball was something that I felt I couldn't live without in the years following the fire and the Warriors became my outlet when I wasn't playing, coaching my younger brother’s team with my dad, or reading about the game. It was, and still is, very much an obsession but something I’m not exactly ashamed of. As years went by and I went off to college and began my adult life, the Warriors became that one tether to childhood and, of course, probably the biggest line of connection between me and my dad.

That continued until my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s around my senior year of college. The Warriors were particularly bad at that time and, with me being away, it became more and more difficult to have a conversation about anything, much less a game. But in his final hours, it ended up coming back to basketball.

Dad went through a rather long bout with Alzheimer’s and in November 2015 the doctors told us that the end was near. I took off work, visited him for the majority of two weeks and then sat with him every day in his hospice room for the final week. And the last thing I “did” with dad was watch the Warriors play the Minnesota Timberwolves on November 12, 2015.

It's probably an exaggeration to say I “watched” the game with him — he gave no indication that he was aware of what was playing on his TV screen — but watching that game in his presence brought some sense of normalcy to an inevitable outcome that I simply was not ready to accept despite the prolonged struggle with the disease. It was that night that I realized why I loved the game so much: it was something my dad gave me that nobody could ever take away. No matter what has happened, basketball has been my refuge and connection to the quiet strength of my dad with the Warriors always at the center of our conversations since I was old enough for him to half-respect my opinions.

In a weird kind of coincidence, I stepped out briefly to record a podcast with Bram and Ivan that night after that Timberwolves game and came back to see dad sound asleep. He passed away as I drove home.

I not-so-briefly considered quitting GSoM and basketball blogging altogether after my dad passed that night. That’s dramatic, yeah, but it just didn’t seem right that basketball would go on without him in the world — it was hard to even imagine a world existing without him. But after a few days weeks of tears, my mom found a box of tickets stubs from the games we went to in the years shortly after the fire. Of course, I cried like a baby. But it was also a reminder of how much those father-son moments must’ve meant to him.

I never really think too much about why I love the Warriors, why I spent years hoping this team would find their way, or why We Believe still remains one of the most memorable times in life. I think it’s mostly just that the relationship with my dad, an otherwise reserved and somewhat stoic man, grew along with my Warriors fandom and the two are so inextricably linked that I wouldn’t imagine letting it go.

If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts section to write your own post.

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