For many, Oracle Arena is synonymous with the Golden State Warriors. Sure, they’ve played elsewhere - from San Francisco to San Jose - but nowhere has been home to quite the extent that Oakland has.
It’s the only home stadium that our core has known in the NBA. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and even youngsters like Jordan Bell have never called anything but Oracle “home” during their time in the NBA. So while ownership salivates at the glitzy prospects across the bay, a growing sense of melancholy and nostalgia is starting to well up out of the Warriors’ players and staff.
“Honestly, I haven’t even been to the Chase Center”
Nick Friedell wrote this awesome article for ESPN that touches on some of the themes above. One of the most interesting quotes to me was this gem from Curry. Curry, more than any other Warrior in franchise history probably, means a lot to Oakland. We’ve always loved our star players, but few started as humbly as Curry - or rose as high. After an astonishing post All-Star run in his rookie season, he weathered coaching changes, ankle injuries, and an ownership shakeup to become one of the leading faces of the entire league.
To understand what Curry and the fans mean to each other, you have to understand that we rose together. While fans get a lot of lip service for being the best in the NBA, it wasn’t always like that. The Dark ages (early 2000’s) were neither well attended, nor especially memorable - except for their deep-seeded mediocrity. Actually scratch that, being mediocre was our goal back then.
So it’s fitting that fans went crazy for We Believe, and even crazier for the rise of the Splash Brothers era. Curry understands the journey the fan base has taken to get where we are now because it mirrors a lot of what his own path to this point has looked like:
“But in terms of framing my specific journey in the last 10 years playing in Oakland ... why it’s important for me to reflect on what this season means, not just trying to win a championship, but doing it in the last year playing in front of a fan base on this side of the Bridge that supported us for the last 47-plus years. It’s just weird, the best way I can describe it.”
“I’d rather stay in Oakland...”
One aspect that I’ve struggled to adjust to with the impending move is the corporate vibe of it all. I know I should be excited to see the fancy new arena, but like Jordan Bell, I’d prefer to just keep the team in Oakland. It’s two-fold: for one, Oracle is just very personally convenient for me to get in and out of; but secondly, I feel like there’s history here. The sort of history you can’t replace (just ask the San Francisco 49ers about how they like the vibe of their new home). Again, from that ESPN article, here’s Jordan Bell talking about some of this:
...if you actually came to the game, even though they sucked, you wanted to see them play, the dedicated fans. So now I don’t know, I think it’s kind of putting people in a weird situation. ... It’s all business at the end of the day. [The owners] think it’s a better situation to move, I guess.”
Regardless of that next phase though, I think the underlying message here is that we are going to miss Oracle, and everything it has meant to the team and fans. If Curry has his way, then we will end this on the highest note possible. While this is certainly the goal, everything I know about Oracle crowds tells me that the team will get a very warm send off - whatever the circumstances may be. But behind all that cheering and well wishes, it’s ok to be sad about this.
“How cool of an experience it would be to walk off Oracle’s floor or wherever we’re playing, last season in Oakland, have one more parade in downtown and celebrate the right way? It’s a storybook [ending] to a great run in Oakland.”
Write that storybook ending for us please, Mr. Curry. But if you can’t, the fans are still honored to know you seem to care about this as much as we do. And we are going to miss this.