“The Warriors are insufferable. The fans are bandwagon chumps. They are this stacked team and nobody likes how they’ve destroyed parity.”
I don’t care.
I grew up a Warriors fan in the mid 1990s when Run TMC had already disbanded and the team was going to endure a pretty pathetic playoff drought. For over a decade, I didn’t know what good quality basketball was all about. I only saw it occasionally when it was a nationally televised game featuring the good teams with Michael Jordan, Reggie Miller, Shaquille O’Neal and so on.
It was never ever in my belief that the Warriors could reach that level. Why not? The team gave me no reason after head coaching changes every couple of years and poor draft picks over and over again. Nobody wanted to sign with this team and worst of all, the NBA didn’t care about the Warriors either. I remember watching the NBA on NBC games and they would have their tag line video with the voiceover that went like this: “This copyrighted telecast is presented by authority of the National Basketball Association. It may not be reproduced or retransmitted in any form, and the accounts and descriptions of this game may not be disseminated, without express written consent of the NBA.”
And in that video package, they would show their top stars in the background with their dunks, blocks, etc. Never did they feature a Warriors player. It was only the best players from the top eight teams in the league. It wasn’t until years later when the graphic featured a player from every team — I was so happy to see Jason Richardson dunk in that clip.
But that was the NBA for me. It was the elite teams and then the bottom of the ladder Warriors.
So when the Warriors made the playoffs in 2007, I believed. I was there. It felt like we belonged.
When the Warriors made their return to the playoffs in 2013, I was there. We belonged.
When they made it back again the following year, I went to see them on the road to face the Clippers. People were talking about this team.
Then when they won it all in 2015, I was there too. And finally, the Warriors were the true talk of the league.
Having been a Warriors fan all my life and going through those dark years as the start of my NBA fandom was not easy. Unlike fans in Chicago who were blessed with the Jordan era or millennials who experienced the Lakers dynasty at the turn of the century, I didn’t know what good basketball was for half my life.
But as the world turns, the landscape shifted. My team now is one of the elite teams. What I thought would never happen is really here.
Yeah, there are people who will always dislike the top dogs of the league for whatever reason. They hate Stephen Curry for no good reason. They think Draymond Green is a thug. Kevin Durant is this lazy player who took the easy route. Their style of ball is too different.
There is all that noise and if I was not a Warriors fan, I’d probably want to join that train. But I am not. I am a loyal fan. I know the hard journey it took to get to this NBA Finals appearance. The first time was special. The second time ended in heartbreak. This third time means a lot. I didn’t take any of this for granted. After suffering through all those years of ugly, how could I not cherish every single step of this journey?
For all those haters, let them hate. Their reason for hate isn’t a logical one. The Warriors played who was presented to them. They drafted the players that were available to them. They signed the players that were available to them. The Warriors are doing what the rest of the league has done for years. It’s just that they have done it well — a complete turnaround from what the team was like 15 years ago. You haters want to hate on the team for being on top finally? You don’t know what the team has been through. They deserve their time in the spotlight and the team has earned it.
I am cherishing this. There is no guarantee they will win the championship this year. There is no guarantee that they will return next year. Nothing is certain. The only thing certain is that I am enjoying this run right now.
Loyal Warriors fans will remember their slogan “It’s a Great Time Out” during their ugliest years in the late 1990s. That slogan is perfect for this era. It’s a great time out to see the team. It may cost you more now with the team’s success. But if you do get in, it will be great. Because this era is the first time ever in my lifetime where I truly feel like we are on top of the world after being ignored by the league for so long.
To hell with that noise from the outside. I rather listen to the noise inside Oracle Arena. Bring on the Cavs!