Warriors Fans Dream of Oakland's First Championship in 26 Years
Forty years, 26 losing seasons, 3,232 regular-season games. Most of those -- 1,793 -- losses.
That’s how long it’s been since the Golden State Warriors won an NBA Championship. But now they're just four wins away from being crowned NBA champions and ending a decades-long title drought for the city of Oakland.
Along with the A’s and Raiders, it has been a rough stretch for Oakland sports. The city has not seen a championship victory since the A’s bashed their way to a World Series win (over the Giants) in 1989 -- 26 years ago.
The Raiders were the last Oakland team to play in a championship game, in 2003, when they were drubbed 48-21 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII, a loss that kicked off a dismal stretch of 12 seasons without a winning record.
The A’s and Warriors have both had moments of respectability over the last few years, but this Warriors team is different. They’ve been the absolute class of the NBA all year, seen a breakout MVP season from superstar Stephen Curry and are the odds-on favorite to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals.
For all the losing that Oakland sports fans have endured, they will find no sympathy from their counterparts in Cleveland. The Cavs have never won a championship and the once-proud sports town hasn’t seen a professional sports title since 1964, when the Browns won the (pre-Super Bowl) NFL Championship. It has been a brutal 51-year stretch for Cleveland sports fans.
But if Steph Curry and company have anything to say about it, Cleveland's wait will continue and LeBron James’ savior act will be postponed for another year.
In the Oracle Arena parking lot before Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals last week, Warriors fan Robert Palimore said an NBA title would mean a lot to Oakland.
“We haven’t had a team take it this far in a while. The Raiders haven’t been there in a minute. The A’s haven’t been there in a minute. So the Warriors are lifting the city up right now. ‘We Believe,' right?”
More precisely, Palimore believes the Warriors “are going to make it look interesting” until they ultimately sweep the Cavs in four games. “Championship, easy. Steph Curry with the shot.”
Should that come to pass, lifetime Warriors fan Steve Pastryk said, “It would be great. It’d be something for everyone to celebrate. [Fans are] always looking for something to celebrate, instead of marching across the freeways and all of that. It’d be awesome, everyone would be pumped up.”
If nothing else, this Warriors run is a distraction from the prevailing narratives about Oakland revolving around late-night protests and those Brooklyn comparisons.
But, for all the Warriors-yellow car flags fluttering throughout the Bay Area, the banners hanging from Oakland streetlights and buses flashing "Go Warriors," the team’s eventual departure from the city (lowercase "c") still looms in the not-so-distant future.
A “North Bay guy” from Rohnert Park, Pastryk isn’t a fan of a potential move mainly because of logistics. “I like the Warriors being over here in Oakland. ... This is pretty easy for me to get to, easy on and off the freeway over here.”
Pastryk wore a San Francisco Giants hat to Game 5 at Oracle Arena last week, and described a potential Warriors title as “icing on the cake” to go along with three Giants’ World Series wins. In the same parking lot not far away, Warriors fans in Oakland A’s gear drank beers and tossed a football – hints that the Warriors are a unifying force in Bay Area sports (sorry, Sharks fans).
“This is the yin-and-yang of Bay Area sports, in which one side openly despises the other, and that other side pretends not to care or notice (even if they most certainly do). It's fun, it's annoying, it's sports, it's life. It's also the pool from which all Warriors fans are drawn. That weird team is the nexus of the two, the annoyed and the entitled ...
This is a franchise at the end of a transition from spunky underdog to shiny favorite, and they're moving to the land of shiny favorites."
The fact that this team’s success is happening now and not at a time “when Antawn Jamison was the marquee player, or when it was a moral victory if the team finished over .500,” fits perfectly into the San Francisco-Oakland dynamic:
"It's happening now, when the Warriors are the It Team. Of course they're getting swallowed up by the place that fancies itself the It City."