The Golden State Warriors’ matchup against the Sacramento Kings tonight has been dubbed “Hello Kitty Night.” The first 10,000 fans to enter the Chase Center tonight will be rewarded with a Hello Kitty plushie wearing a Warriors jersey — a gift I almost considered boarding a plane for.
Hello Kitty is an incredibly popular character created in the 1970s by the Japanese design and merchandise company Sanrio. The brand has grown quite the following around the world since skyrocketing in popularity outside of Japan in the late 1990s and early 2000s, leading to the phenomenon of ‘Sanrio girls’ — girls and women who collect merchandise of the characters and say “that’s soooo me” when they see an especially cute drawing or screenshot of a character they identify with. As a Sanrio girl myself (My Melody is literally me), I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to tag every rotational Warriors player as a Sanrio character.
Steph Curry: Cinnamoroll
Cinnamoroll is a playful, sporty puppy who’s always down for an adventure, and like Steph, is one of the most popular characters in his franchise. Like Steph revolutionized the three-pointer, Cinnamoroll revolutionized the future of Sanrio as the company rang in the 2000s with a new crop of ultra-kawaii characters.
Klay Thompson: Pankunchi
Pankunchi is a lovable panda who, according to his page on the Sanrio Wiki, left home in search of some bread to eat, but ended up becoming best friends with the bread instead. This may remind one of a toaster from years of old, or just Klay’s peaceful nature and ability to make friends wherever he goes.
Draymond Green: Badtz-Maru
Badtz-Maru is a penguin with an attitude. If any Sanrio character were to get suspended for beating people up, it would be Badtz-Maru. Notably, he’s the only protagonist to have a grumpy demeanor first and foremost, not unlike Draymond’s reputation as a bit of a bad boy. However, like Draymond, Badtz-Maru is a softie at heart, and would go to great lengths to support his friends.
According to his page on the Sanrio Wiki, Badtz-Maru was also the official mascot of the 2006 FIBA tournament hosted in Japan!
Kevon Looney: Big Challenges
Chomp chomp. I can’t say Looney hasn’t had some big challenges throughout his career — but regardless of what is thrown his way, he always stays smiling.
Moses Moody: Chococat
Just a cutie pie with a ton of potential. Chococat is energetic and scatterbrained, but always ‘in the know.’ Although Chococat is a fan-favorite Sanrio character, he’s still incredibly underrated, and rarely stars in promotional material these days. This echoes Moody’s popularity among fans and his ability to pull the Warriors out of tough spots every once in a while. Hopefully, we see a Chococat renaissance sometime soon, just like we might all be hoping for a big night from Moody.
Dario Šarić: Pompompurin
Much like Dario, Pompompurin is a large sweetheart who likes to take things slow. Pompompurin also collects shoes, and Dario has spoken at length about his collection of Air Force Ones. Plus, I mean, just look at him.
Chris Paul: Muffin
Muffin is a small hamster who is Pompompurin’s best friend. In theory, being a hamster, he’s also vegan! Muffin is reliable and always there for Pompompurin and their other friends, just like Chris Paul can always show up when needed. Muffin and Pompompurin complete each other and have been best friends forever, just like how Dario and Chris have been teammates for almost five years now and work incredibly well together.
Jonathan Kuminga: Keroppi
“And-a one! And-a two! And-a you know what to do!”
—Keroppi prepares to play his trumpet during the episode Keroppi Faces the Music (Sanrio Wiki)
Keroppi is a little frog who always puts his best foot forward to bring joy and success to whatever the gang is trying to achieve. Much like Kuminga, you can always count on him when things get tough.
Andrew Wiggins: Tuxedo Sam
Just a dapper boy. One of Tuxedo Sam’s skills is his fashion sense, and we all know how well Wiggs can get a fit off. Plus, Tuxedo Sam is athletic, swimming and playing football, among other things. It’s not hard to imagine this penguin hooping.
Brandin Podziemski: Usahana
Niche but lovable, Podz’s recent surge is indicative of a great career ahead of him, just like Usahana’s increasing popularity signifies a resurgence in the character’s presence among the Sanrio gang. Usahana is a fantastic character who I’d love to see more of, and I know I speak for a lot of Warriors fans when I say I want to see more Podz on the floor.
Gary Payton II: Gudetama
This self-described lazy egg is a fan-favorite character, being voted into Sanrio’s character lineup in 2013. Although he didn’t initially win the vote, he eventually surpassed the winner, Kirimichan (a smiling salmon fillet), in popularity, and became a permanent and prominent part of the crew. Gary Payton II was brought back to Golden State as a fan-favorite after winning a ring with them in 2022.
Trayce Jackson-Davis: Hangyodon
According to the Sanrio Wiki, “Hangyodon is a nice guy who loves to make others laugh, but has a soft spot and doesn’t like being alone. He desires to be a hero but his plans of heroism often go awry.” If that’s not a way to refer to Trayce’s rookie season, I really don’t know what is.
Cory Joseph: Chai (upper left corner)
Chai is an energetic red panda who “sometimes gets a little too excited and makes a mistake. He doesn’t let mistakes get him down though.” (Sanrio Wiki) Although some fans criticize Cory Joseph on bad nights, when he’s good, he’s good, and can be instrumental in important wins.
Lester Quinones: Landry
Landry is an underrated raccoon who hasn’t been seen much often. Quinones has only played in 9 games for the Warriors this season, but with 6 points in 18 minutes last week, could provide some much-needed help.
Gui Santos: Pochacco
Pochacco is a floppy-eared puppy from Brazil who likes playing basketball. Much like Gui, many fans think he’s underrated. This parallel was too good to pass up.
The Warriors’ Hello Kitty Night promotion is just one in a long list of specialty nights to bring fans together. The NBA’s adoption of Sanrio is a sign of a diversifying fandom, as Sanrio is most popular with young women, as well as fans in East Asia, a region the NBA has been investing a ton of capital in. Overall, it’s wonderful that the NBA is starting to do crossovers with the franchise, as fans around the world hope to get their hands on that Warriors Hello Kitty plushie.