The primal chant reverberated throughout the O Arena as the time wound down on the deciding game four of the 2018 NBA Finals. I sat in my seat alongside a stadium chock-full of basketball fans and took in the moment. Yet again, our Golden State Warriors had brought home the ultimate prize, and an arena full of delirious supporters celebrated a back-to-back world championship. Our team had just swept their nemesis, Cleveland Cavs, and in doing so, further cemented themselves in the dynasty discussion.
As I rose from my seat I looked intently at the makeup of the revelers around me. To my immediate left, a huge Samoan man with shoulder length braids, donned a white Draymond Green jersey. His massive biceps were decorated wit
h a variety of tattoos, the most prominent of which was an old school Warriors logo underscored by the words; Town Biz.
I glanced behind me and grinned as I observed an adorable older Black couple (they appeared to be in their seventies) steer through the crush of the excited throng. The couple both wore Warriors hats, and the man wore a blue Warriors Starters jacket. The petite woman had a “We Believe” button pinned to her blue sweater. The couple held hands, small smiles stretched across their faces, which probably held stories of decades of Warriors fandom.
My fiancé, her girlfriend, my sister and her two girlfriends pressed into the jam packed main concourse. All around us, a sea of electric blue and gold danced around in merriment. The ethnicities, genders and ages of the merrymakers were incredibly diverse, the one similarity being their love and devotion to their favorite team, the Bay's team, the Golden State Warriors.
For most people, sports represents a release, an escape if you will. Sports franchises possess a unique ability to take those who follow them on a journey. For myself, my attachment to sports always functioned as a social outlet, in my youth and adulthood. I've hosted parties around numerous sporting events. My Super Bowl parties are legendary, and during the Mike Tyson era, I held boisterous fight parties. And most recently, for the past
several years, I’ve attended intimate watch parties with nineteen thousand, of my closest friends.
And therein lies the magic you find when you devote yourself to a sports team; the quality to take most of us away from the struggle of everyday life and catapult us into relatively comfortable social settings. Even when our teams are not that good (reference The Golden State Warriors for most of my life), they have a wonderful ability to remove us from the mundane routines of our existence. Sports teams have a way of galvanizing a community, uniting races, connecting long-time fans and creating new fans.
A few moments later, I walked into the quad area, the concrete area that linked the stadium (where the A's play) and the arena (where the Warriors play) as a DJ spun Bay themed music. There was plenty of Mac Dre, a heavy dose of E-40, Too Short was in rotation, and everybody in the quad ‘went stupid’.
As I wafted through the crowd, I had to navigate around a semi-circle of fifteen white college hipsters doing the Bernie dance. One of the guys asked me to ‘shake dem dreads.’ I obliged, and we laughed and shared a heartfelt embrace.
The Asian community showed up in full force. Everywhere I turned I saw Koreans, Filipinos, Chinese and others laughing and socializing. I pass
ed by a circle of guys who posed for a group picture, and they all wore their Thizz face. (*reference: Steph Curry during the '15 Championship after he put Matthew Dellavedova in the spin cycle. The face Steph made was the Thizz face).
I continued to push through the crowd, hi-fiving and sharing hugs every few feet. The crowd outside Oracle was lit. Black men and women danced, yelled and partied alongside everyone else.
To see so many diverse people partying together was breathtaking. The scene was beautiful. My heart swelled with Oakland pride. But this was bigger than Oakland.
"Yo! Young Attles."
I turned to my left, while a tall guy, with dreads and a
gold grill, motioned me towards him. He took a hit of a huge... um... cigar. After blowing out a cloud of smoke, he held the... um... cigar towards me.
"Wanna hit this?" He asked.
"Naw, I'm good. Thanks fam." I answered
"Champs again baby. Swept em. Just like yo daddy and nem did."
"Oh you go way back," I laughed.
"Yep. Rick Barry. Keith Wilkes! Filmo' Phil Smith was my dude."
"That's what's up" I said, as the two of us shared a quick hug.
"Stay up Attles"
"You too fam."
I replied. I continued walking, smiling as I realized that I had just shared another exchange with a guy I'd never met before and most likely would never see again.
As I've gotten older and had children, I've learned to prioritize my love for the Warriors, but deep in my core, I still love interactions like the ones I just described. I continued down the ramp towards the E parking lot. My phone vibrated incessantly. I pulled it from my pocket and held it in the light to see what was happening. I shook m
y head as I realized I had thirty-six text messages, eleven missed calls and a ton of Facebook notifications.
I checked a few of my messages first:
· My niece Italia Reeves (Brooklyn) sent me a GIF of Steph Curry
· My cousin Vernon Attles (Boston) sent a message: The NBA has no answer for us cuz. If the team stays healthy they can win it (chip) for two more years.
· My son, Isaiah left me a message which si
mply said: Easy
· Keith Powell (CEO of Attles Group) left a message: This game is over. Get ready for the parade.
Behind me my sister Ericka, who goes by the moniker, ORC (original Riley Curry) screamed and yelled excitedly into her phone. Apparently, she was on FB Live. I'm not that advanced yet. But I stood next to her and screamed into her phone with what little voice I had left.
As I am a writer, I like to find a quiet place to express my thoughts. The night of the championship, I crept downstairs and sat with a pencil and thought more about my journey, our journey, a fan's journey with the Golden State Warriors.
And that brings us to the latest iteration of the GSW. The back-to-back championships has vaulted our sports reality into a realm that is seems improbable to most die-hard fans. To be honest, ten years ago, I would've told you that I had more faith in a Tyrannosaurus Rex destroying Oakland than I would seeing the team I've gro
wn up with destroying the rest of the NBA on a regular basis.
Fans of other teams now bemoan our fans, label them as bandwagon and frontrunners. I laugh because some of that might be true but understand this, to be a bandwagon fan, your team has to be good. I saw firsthand, droves of bandwagon fans affix themselves to the showtime Lakers. I watched fans pop up with Black and Red gear after Michael Jordan morphed into Air Jordan. And Lebron James has created legions of bandwagon fans who were Cleveland fans, then became Miami Heat fans, then became Cleveland fans again and soon will be…who knows? But I digress. I'm a long time, die-hard fan, so the bandwagon label doesn't offend me, nor does it apply to most Warriors fans. And we've been here during the bleak days, loud and proud cheering for our Warriors.
In fact, long before we debated how tall our feisty power forward Draymond Green, really is, we had the same debate about the true height of Byron Houston. Decades before KD captivated us with his incredible one-on-one prowess, we marveled at the moves of one World B. Free (Prince in mid-air). For every pure shooting guard like Klay, I'll raise you a Mitch Richmond and Jeff Mullins. Heck, I might give you an Anthony Morrow. Steph sure can handle and shoot it, can't he? True fans remember Guy Rogers, Mark Price and, my favorite Tim Hardaway.
In life, anytime you struggle you appreciate the successes that much more. And the success that our Warriors are having is not being taken for granted. This team has given us three championships to celebrate within the last four years. This is an unprecedented run for Warriors' fans. It also gives us long-time fans a lens to look throughout the years an
d celebrate our past.
Some of us may remember Nate Thurmond notching forty rebounds in the Cow Palace. Some of us still remember Rick Barry's several 50-point outbursts. Who remembers Chris Webber going around his back and dunking on Charles Barkley? Remember how the fans would go crazy when Joel Hassett knocked down a couple three pointers in a row? And we would go crazier still when Manute Bol threw a twenty-six footer in, off the glass.
I sat with my eyes closed for a moment and let the torrent of Warriors memories flood through my mind. We were the champs, yet again. Coach Steve Kerr led his team to a 4-0 sweep, just like my father did in '75. The '75 team was as big an underdog as this year's team was a prohibitive favorite. That might make a difference to the bookies in Vegas, but it makes no difference to us, the true Warriors fans. They are the NBA Champions. They are our champions!
We don't look the same, we don’t act the same. We come in different c
olors, ethnicities, ages and genders. But, we all have one thing in common; WE LOVE OUR TEAM.
"Everybody say Warriors. Warriors!"
I have no idea what the future holds on the court, as championships are not easy to come by. But I know this, I have the memories both good and not so good to draw on for the rest of my days. As I put my pencil down, I glance over at the clock. It reads 3:45 AM.
What a day it has been. What a journey this has been. Maybe, I’ll sit here and smoke myself a cigar.
I’m looking forward to making some more friends at the parade. If you see me Tuesday, holler at me. I’ll be the one with the long hair and the huge smile. The Golden State Warriors are back-to-back Champions! That’s reason for all of us to smile.
In closing, Thank you Mr. Lacob. Thank you Mr. Guber. Thank you Mr. Cohan. Thank you Mr. Mieuli. You have given us a sports team that will always be a championship team in our hea
rts. Over the years they've thrilled us and uplifted us. They've frustrated us on more than one occasion. Hell, they've even broken our hearts. But we are survivors, we are BELIEVERS, and we are die hard Warriors fans.
*Please take the time to pray for the family and friends of Mr. Sadiki Fuller (Warriors mascot, “Thunder”). Sadiki and I were extremely close and we spoke almost every day until his untimely demise. As fate would have it, we met through my favorite team. Rest in paradise my friend. Our squad did it again!