‘The heart is here’: why the Warriors’ success is more bitter than sweet

Although the teams move to San Francisco is only across the Bay, longtime Warriors fans based in Oakland are feeling left behind

As fans streamed into the Oracle Arena in Oakland for the third game of the NBA Finals, the excitement for the Golden State Warriors was tinged with melancholy a victory parade that could feel, at times, like a funeral march.

In a few weeks, the team will no longer call Oakland home, moving across the Bay to the $1bn Chase Center in San Francisco. The move is only 16 miles by car but for many fans of the Warriors, who have been playing in Oakland for 47 years, it feels much farther representing a betrayal of the city that made them.

Its wack, said Miss Q, a performer who has spent the last four years attending every Warriors home game with drums, a plastic bucket and a whistle, drumming in the tunnels of the stadium as the fans enter. Their heart is this town. Moving to San Francisco will serve another kind of clientele, but the heart is here.

Brian Jackson, left, and Miss Q attend every Warriors game at the Oracle Arena in Oakland with plastic buckets, drums and a whistle. Photograph: Kari Paul/The Guardian

Mike Haley, who lives in the Central Valley three hours north of Oakland, has been a fan his whole life going to sleep each night as a child in a bed below a hand-painted Warriors logo. He attends several games a year with his friend John Stevens, who said he still remembers seeing Michael Jordan in action when the Warriors played the Chicago Bulls in 1984. Between the two of them, Haley and Stevens have been to more than 100 games at the Oracle Arena.

John Stevens, left, and Mike Haley attend a Warriors game at Oracle Arena in Oakland. Photograph: Kari Paul/The Guardian

The move will definitely change the vibe it will be more corporate than ever, Stevens said. But I dont know if its a bad thing. The Giants did it, and its worked out great for them. Its definitely going to be different.

The Warriors move to San Francisco comes as another loss to the city of Oakland, after NFL team the Raiders announced it would depart for Las Vegas in 2020. Some longtime Warriors fans feel left behind by the move: as the team got better, ticket prices went up as more bandwagon fans came on board, said Deanna Haley, a woman born and raised in Oakland who sported a custom-made dress covered in images of her friends and family wearing Warriors gear.

She has been coming to games since 1987, when she saw Eric Sleepy Floyd set an NBA playoff record by scoring 29 points in a quarter and 39 in a half of game 4 of the semifinals. The record still stands, and Haley is still coming to games. She said she isnt fazed by the relocation.

Its still going to be the same team, we will always be the Warriors, said Deanna Haley, who born and raised in Oakland. Photograph: Kari Paul/The Guardian

The energy has completely changed, but its a good thing, she said. Im excited and nervous to see what will happen. Its still going to be the same team, we will always be the Warriors.

Shaochuan Yu and Yishu Wang, two Chinese engineering students living in Boston, are new fans who flew to Oakland just for the game. They dont have money to buy tickets, but wanted to come to the stadium just to feel the energy, they said.

Yu said she just started watching basketball this year and loves Kevin Durant, a forward for the Warriors and a star player on the team. She cradled a giant cardboard cutout of Durants head and gushed about him, saying hes so awesome, so special, so tall.

Shaochuan Yu, right, and Yishu Wang flew all the way from Boston just to come to Oracle Arena in Oakland. Photograph: Kari Paul/The Guardian

Durant, who is 6ft 9in, has been a star player for the Warriors and is likely to leave the team after this season.

Joe, a local fan, who declined to share his last name, said he had gone to nearly every game at the Oracle Arena since 2000. After more than two decades and hundreds of games, he wont be watching the Warriors in person any more.

Its a terrible move, its a terrible decision, they gave up on the people of Oakland, he said, adding that he was perplexed by the decision. Why would they do this to us?

Ill tell you why, said his friend Carlos Milkway, who has been attending games since 2000. They started winning. And people who were not interested became interested. Milkway said he probably would not be coming to games after the team moves.

The move is also said to be an inconvenience for many of the players: most of the Warriors besides Durant, who lives in downtown San Francisco, will now have to commute into San Francisco for the more than 40 home games per year.

Nate Payne says hes been coming to Warriors games since they were terrible and now brings along his son Nikko, 9. Photograph: Kari Paul/The Guardian

The city of San Francisco has announced it may provide a ferry service from the east bay into the city for events at the new Chase Center arena, and could start the service by 1 October in time for the next NBA season. But most players and fans will be taking the Bay Bridge, known locally for its traffic backups.

Supserstar point guard Steph Curry has even commented on the struggle the new commute presents, saying he might have to pull a Kobe, and take a helicopter in. That commute on the bridge he said, his voice trailing off. If I had to bet, someone is going to be late to a game.

Nate Payne, who was at the game with his nine-year-old son Nikko is a diehard Warriors fan and has been coming to games since they were terrible and tickets werent so expensive. He and Nikko carried matching anti-Drake signs, a reference to the rapper and Toronto superfan who has been making headlines with his courtside antics throughout the Finals and who is rumored to be a curse for any team he endorses. Payne said his father used to take him to Warriors games in the 1990s in the Run TMC days, when Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin were the NBAs highest-scoring trio.

This is a Bay Area tradition, he said. My dad took me to games, and now its coming back full circle. Its going to be lonely now that the Warriors arent in Oakland.

Jawad, a food vendor who declined to share his last name, has been selling food and drinks to Warriors fans at the Coliseum Bart station for 17 years. Photograph: Kari Paul/The Guardian

As tip-off for Game Three came and went, the stream of traffic through the entryway of the Coliseum Bart stop outside Oracle Arena slowed to a crawl. Food vendor Jawad, who declined to share his last name, took the opportunity to wipe down the outside of his hot dog stand with a wet rag. He has been selling food and drinks to fans in the same location for 17 years.

He is at the station every day, but said game days he makes thousands more dollars than usual. The move will be a devastating loss to his business as he doesnt have a permit to vend in other Bart stations.

I wont be able to sell food in the city, so what can I do? he said. Of course I am very sad. The city of Oakland will lose money, Bart will lose money, everyone will lose money. Its a bad decision.

Although he is upset to see the team go, when asked if he is still cheering for the team, Jawad cracked a smile and unzipped his jacket to reveal a yellow and blue Warriors T-shirt.

Of course I am still a Warriors fan, he said. How could I not be?

Original Article : HERE ; The Ultimate Survival Food: The Lost Ways


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