In late-July, I put out a call for writers with the intent of adding a couple of writers to help bolster our coverage.
As usual, we received a ton of applicants that offered a blend of analysis, humor, and, most importantly, passion for the Golden State Warriors. Ultimately, after considering our needs and the direction we’d like to move in, I selected a group of writers that I believe will enrich this community.
So to introduce the new group of writers, I asked each of them to answer a question that would help the community learn who they are as fans. Then Patrick came up with a second question: “When did you fall in love with the Warriors?”
Of course, as writers, they wrote ... and wrote ... and wrote ... so I’m starting with that second question and will post my original question tomorrow. Below, you can click on their names to see more about them in their author profiles (where you can also see any past FanPosts they’ve written) and check them out on Twitter by clicking the link in parentheses. And, of course, I hope all of you will add your answers to the question in the comments below.
So without further ado, please help me in welcoming Golden State of Mind’s new writers.
I grew up in Mendocino, a few hours north of the Bay Area, so I was always a fan of the Warriors. But my family didn’t have cable, which means I had to walk to my grandmother’s house any time I wanted to watch basketball. And her cable package only had occasional Warriors games. So I followed them primarily through the newspaper, while watching whatever other NBA games I could find on her TV.
In 2002, my dad took me to my first game at what is now Oracle. Sitting in the nosebleeds, I was mesmerized by the ambiance of the crowd, the size of the players, and the overall love of Warriors basketball that tore through the arena. I’ll never forget my pre-teen self, screaming, and voice cracking, as Larry Hughes passed back on a 2-on-0, paving the way for a flashy Antawn Jamison dunk. I was hooked.
And we always had a cable package that had 82 Warriors games after that.
My Warriors love story has to do with sheer happenstance, being born and raised in the Bay Area and also, when I was a kid, happening to be bigger and taller than everyone else my age, which made me an asset on the basketball court. Because of that, my first sports love was always basketball and the Warriors, playing just a few minutes down the road from my Alameda home, became the team I followed and cared about. In addition to this, my stepdad taking me to my first Warriors game during the 1994-1995 season really sealed the deal. He’d been a season ticket holder since 1978 so he went way back with following the team but, after watching the Warriors but never going to a game, I finally got to see them in person starting that season.
Now it also happened to be the beginning of the Warriors 12 season playoff drought so it wasn’t that my love for the team was the result of on-court success. But rather, going to games with my stepdad through the tolerable (the Gilbert Arenas-Jason Richardson team that nearly went .500 felt like a revelation) to the horrendous (driving down to San Jose to watch a 30 win team play while they remodelded the arena or watching so many sub-20 win teams in Oakland that I lost count) really created that bond with the team. By the time the team made it back to the playoffs, I’d moved away so I wasn’t going to games in person regularly anymore (save for over Christmas and making it back for a few playoff games each of the past 3 seasons) but I knew that this was the sport, the league, and the team I cared about the most and thus didn’t mind having to stay up until 1am on the east coast to watch games (at first, primarily on League Pass but now, since most Warriors games are nationally televised, on regular TV). But it all dates back to my stepdad taking me to games during that 1994-95 season and I knew that I was with this team for better or worse.
I've been watching the Warriors since the days of Eric Mussleman, which is a very hazy, distant memory. I can confidently say I really began to love them when they drafted Monta Ellis… he was awesome. Straight outta high school, he was a true baller. The We Believe Warriors were incredible. But I must admit, my favorite player growing up was Dwyane Wade, who still holds a special place in my heart. It wasn't until Steph Curry came along that someone started banging on the shrine of Wade in my heart. So my love for the Warriors has grown and grown since I was little, until it became the raging inferno it is now.
I first fell in love with the team during the Mark Jackson era. I enjoyed observing the process. I enjoyed seeing Steph overcoming injuries and looking like the dude I saw at Davidson. I enjoyed seeing how Dray and Klay evolved.
My relationship with the Warriors is very much like a family friend who I fell out of close contact with due to life, then reconvened after a few years, only to find out that they are now incredibly cool.
On a serious note, I’ve followed the Dubs since the days of what seems like a now forgotten past. Back when J-Rich dunk contests were the highlight of what were otherwise unremarkable seasons, I developed an unhealthy attachment to the game of basketball and with it an undying fandom for the Warriors. Sometimes this had incredible payoffs, such as that infamous “We Believe” run. Most times, it had less than favorable effects — I used to draft Eric Dampier in my fantasy leagues out of sheer loyalty. Either way, the game of basketball was always generally a big part of my life.
Then came my early twenties, when
I tried to expand my horizons and interests. That diversification came at a cost though, and I found myself with less and less time to follow sports as intently as I once had. I fully came back around the time we traded Ellis for Bogut, mostly to dispute the tears overflowing my social media feeds. Some of my friends felt like it was a terrible transaction. I saw it as more of the #lightyears variety. Ultimately though, I really have those petty comment section arguments to thank. Because of it, I was drawn back into the hoops world, which enabled me to see this incredible run we are now having from its infancy stages through to its current form as a possible dynasty.
Daniel “GoldBloodedKing” Hardee (@OriginalGBK)
Absentmindedly runs fingers across Larry O’Brien trophy replica.
When did I fall in love? When did my blood turn golden? Hmmmm.
I knew the Warriors from my early days as an Oakland youth. Once a year, a grandparent or uncle or family friend would tell my parents, “I wanna take Dan to the Warriors game. He likes basketball right?” The Warriors would usually lose, but I didn’t really care about the final score. At that age, any chance to be out at night with an adult while chomping down on a hot dog, listening to arena loudspeakers blasting WHOOMP! There It Is! was fine with me.
During summertime my parents would drop me off at some random Warriors basketball camp. One year Adonal Foyle was the guest of honor. I stared at the Warriors starting center, in a wheelchair, with a cast on his leg… telling kids to follow their dreams. Wow. Every child there was staring at him with a mixture of sympathy and resigned disappointment. (Only the Warriors would be represented by a player that COULDN’T STAND UP!) I was just grateful for the opportunity to have an actual basketball team, no matter how garbage, in my hometown. I did not, however, invest myself in whether they won or lost.
I didn’t love the Warriors until I went to Georgia for college and was set ablaze by the disrespectful razzing and condescending insults from the basketball fans on campus. You know the scene in “Deadpool” where Ryan Reynolds is tortured and genetically transformed? Yeah, that was me in 2006 whenever my buddies and I talked about “our teams”. I quickly became known as the dude from Cali whose lame ass team wasn’t the Lakers or Kings. I literally remember one dude telling me, “You would think coming from a ghetto city like Oakland their team would be able to shoot ...”
When the Warriors broke Dirk’s back in the magical 2007 “We Believe” upset, I was a militant, raging, sh*t-talking Warriors fanatic. When my mom mailed me a “We Believe” shirt, I wore it like 50 Cent rocked bulletproof vests. I was going on dates to sports bars just to be able to keep a watchful eye on my Warriors.…I was obsessed, I was over protective, I was….in love.
My journey to the Warriors is a long and winding road. It began with the Dream Team bringing basketball into the consciousness of a 12-year-old kid in Oxford, England. Pre-Internet and pre-League Pass, back then there wasn't much opportunity to follow the NBA. One game a week in the middle of the night, invariably Jordan’s Bulls and a highlights show on Saturday mornings. Being a contrary sod, I plumped for the Knicks, who seemed as good a rival as anyone else. I loved that defensive toughness and intensity they brought.
But man those Knicks were U-G-L-Y. I hungered for a faster, flashier style. And the Run-TMC segments on various mixtapes and highlight shows satisfied my thirst. Tim Hardaway’s killer crossover was something I could at least attempt to bust out on the playground outside my house, which now sported two basketball hoops put up to cater for American students.
After a few years away from the game I came back with the advent of league pass in 2007. Nash’s Suns were at their peak, changing the game and elevating it as an art form. But the “We Believe” Warriors made me well… believe. I hadn’t felt like that since the ‘99 Knicks went to the Finals. At the same time another revolution began: YouTube clips of a skinny kid from a tiny college setting nets ablaze reached these shores. I’d never seen anything like it. The seeds were planted.
But all seeds need watering to come to life. On February 28, 2013, Steph near enough burned down Madison Square Garden. A couple of months later, he would take down the Nuggets and push the Spurs to the brink.
In the end, it took the third game of the 2014-15 season for me to fully realise what was coming. By that point, I was a full on raging Steph Curry fan thanks to his transcendent shooting and ball-handling harking back to Jason ‘White Chocolate’ Williams. But as the Warriors dismantled the Clippers it hit me in the face: for all the individual brilliance, this was a team like nothing I’d ever seen. The pace and flair of the ‘07 Suns, the ball movement and teamwork of the ‘14 Spurs, and the snarling defense and intensity of the early 90’s Knicks.
To put it simply, this was the revolution. And this time it would be televised. As Draymond Green near enough licked the salty tears off Blake Griffin’s face, all I could think was ‘mmm tasty’.
I've lived in the Bay Area my whole life but only until the Lakers have recently fallen from grace, I've recently joined the Warriors bandwagon.
Haha, naw — just kidding.
I became tied to the Warriors as early as 2000. I was born in the late ‘80s, but growing up in the 90’s, I hadn't really built a strong allegiance to my hometown team as a young kid. I was a big fan of Shaq & Penny and the mid-90’s Magic, but still in search of my sports identity. One of my cousins bought me a rookie Chris Webber Jersey for my 7th birthday but I didn't know who he was at the time so he returned it and got me a collection of pogs (I doubt few know what pogs are, Google it).
Fast forward to the early 00’s and the first Dubs team I swooned over was the backcourt of J-Rich & Gilbert Arenas, who were drafted together. We didn't win a whole lot, but they were very exciting, high energy players along with Antawn Jamison & Eric Dampier. I'd like to think that if we could have kept Arenas, that team could have made a playoff push. The highlights during that time were the epic Slam Dunk competitions involving J-Rich and anticipating the draft lottery to see where we would land.
Mike Dunleavy was supposed to be our savior!
Errm, well kinda sorta. It was a struggle in those early years to say the least. But all the losing seasons were worth it to see the We Believe team come alive. In what felt like a steal, we end up trading for this new sexy point guard in Baron Davis and the remains of the Pacers in Stack Jack & Big Al Harrington. At that point I was convinced this was the pinnacle for the franchise and I was totally happy with that.
Now fast forward again to present day. We have been blessed with the current squad and it's still surreal to see this franchise being compared with some of the greatest teams of all-time.
I grew up in Chicago and have always loved hoops, but my path to Warriors fandom was somewhat unconventional. I’ve always watched North Carolina basketball. After the Dubs drafted Harrison Barnes, I began following the team regularly to track HB's career.
For the past five years, I haven't stopped watching the Dubs as they've become the most interesting team in professional sports. RIP HB. It didn't hurt that my partner of five years is a Berkeley native and frequent East Bay visits entailed trips to Oracle. I like to think I became a fan before it was cool, but people don't really believe me when I say Harrison Barnes is the foundation of my Warriors fandom.
Whatever. Post-HB, I still try to catch every game.
Steph Curry has quickly become my favorite athlete in professional sports and Steve Kerr is also part of an elite group of professional coaches whose personal story and professional style transcends basketball.