This week’s theme at SB Nation is “Sports Moments that Made You Cry.”
And let me tell you, when I heard that news my brain got to racing, because I’m not ashamed to admit that sports have made me cry a lot.
Many teams and athletes have made me cry, and the Golden State Warriors have done so numerous times. So let’s talk about those times.
The Warriors have made me cry happy tears. Drafting Steph Curry and winning three titles will do that.
But if I’m being honest, it’s the sad tears that are a lot more interesting.
There are two distinct moments where I can remember the Warriors making me cry — no, not cry, bawl. I’m sure you can guess one of them. Let’s dive in.
June 19, 2016
Yes, the obvious one. Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. A game I hardly remember because of how much alcohol I consumed to survive trying to watch it without melting into a pool of emotions and anxieties, and a game I’ve yet to rewatch, even though the final minutes seem to pop up on ESPN and YouTube on a weekly basis.
I’m OK with losses. I’m not the most competitive person. I’d never cried before when the Warriors had been eliminated, and I didn’t cry last year. Losses happen. They’re part of the story, and part of why the wins are so damn fun.
This wasn’t about the loss. It was about the destruction of perhaps the most special sports creation I had ever witnessed.
The Warriors weren’t supposed to be contenders in 2014-15, and they won a championship. Then they were supposed to be contenders but not dominant in 2015-16, and they set record for regular season wins, besting a Michael Jordan era Chicago Bulls record that many thought would stand forever.
The season was magical every direction you turned. 24 straight wins to open the season. Bounces and rolls going the Warriors way as though the basketball gods and goddesses were all donning Dubs jerseys. Curry doing things we’d never seen — literally never seen — en route to becoming the first player in NBA history to unanimously win an MVP award.
And of course, 73 wins.
When the playoffs started, a title seemed almost certain. It was just a matter of going through the motions.
But then the injuries started to occur. Then the dance with the devil in Oklahoma City where they miraculously avoided elimination. Then more injuries and a suspension.
Through it all I never expected them to lose. It felt destined, ordained. After seemingly getting through a historic regular season with ease, they’d have to climb every possible obstacle in the postseason, but they’d be able to.
And we all knew what awaited them at the end of the journey, should they succeed. The title of greatest season in NBA history. A legitimate claim to the throne of greatest team the sport has ever seen. They weren’t playing for rings and trophies anymore. They were playing for their seat at the NBA royalty table. For their nook in the corner of Springfield.
For legend status.
And it all came crashing down with a LeBron James block, a Kyrie Irving three-pointer, and a Kevin Love defensive sequence.
It shouldn’t wash or mouths clean of just how fun that regular season was. But it took something that was so close to being forever stored in our memory banks as the greatest year in our sports fandom, and crushed it before our eyes.
And holy hell did I ever cry.
June 29, 2007
We all have a few moments that, for whatever reason, felt bigger than they really were, and we remember them distinctly. This is one for me.
I was at a cabin in Yosemite National Park, an annual vacation for me and my family. I was still riding the high of the We Believe Warriors from a few months prior, and had fooled myself into thinking that this was the start of something special. Monta Ellis was headed for stardom and, alongside Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, and Jason Richardson, the Warriors had the core of a future contender. Or so I told myself.
Given the year and location, my only way of getting sports news was through the San Francisco Chronicle. So the day after the 2007 NBA Draft I grabbed some quarters from my mom, ran to the newspaper dispenser, and grabbed an issue of that day’s paper. I was excited to see who the Warriors selected with the 18th pick in the draft.
My heart sank as I unfolded the Sporting Green and saw the news: The Warriors traded Richardson to the Charlotte Bobcats for Brandan Wright. I didn’t get it. I didn’t get it one bit.
Maybe I would have tried to understand it were Richardson not my favorite player. The guy who had given his heart and soul to so many horrible Warriors team, and had only a few months ago seen it result in success. The guy who had the heart of every Dubs fans. The guy who embodied the soul of We Believe more than anyone else.
But he was that player, and I had no desire to try and understand it. The Warriors had traded my favorite player, and one of their best players, for a raw rookie, right as they were finally climbing up the NBA pecking order.
I sat on the porch of a Yosemite cabin, sports paper folded in my lap, and I cried.
Almost all of us have been moved to tears — of joy or sadness — by sports. What’s a moment when the Warriors made you cry?