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Murph: There is Warrior playoff life after Oracle

© Stan Szeto | 2021 Dec 4

I came, I saw, I Chased.

Wednesday night was my Chase Center playoff debut, 15 years after attending my first Warriors playoff game in Oakland.

That’s right, kids. This salt-and-pepper-haired Jock Blogger is old enough to own a “We Believe” tee shirt.

(Also, how about the fact that there were *NO* Warriors playoff games from 1994-2007? Holy Chris Cohan, Batman!)

At any rate, I’m here to tell, with Joe Lacob and God (in that order), as my witnesses: There is playoff life after Oracle.

I know, I know. May the ghosts of the old Coliseum Plaza post-playoff DJ parties throw lightning bolts from the old Thunder mascot’s hands and strike me down.

Oakland playoff basketball was, to paraphrase a sound bite you may or may not have heard on the ‘Murph and Mac Show’, “beautiful basketball.” There was an organic quality to the 2007 and 2015 crowds that will, frankly, never be replicated.

And I have news for the Oracle diehards: the 2007/2015 energy was not being replicated in Oakland by 2017-18-19. 

It’s only natural. Fans can’t be raw and insane and scream to the heavens in soul-releasing joy every year. They can be loud and knowledgable and passionate, yes. But they can’t produce the sort of mania that was created when the late, great Dwight Clark pulled down a miracle from the sky in January 1982; or when Tim Lincecum emerged from the dugout to start the 9th inning of Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS; or, yes, when Baron Davis reached deep into his competitive heart and tore out Andrei Kirilenko’s in one giant swoop in the spring of 2007.

What’s always been great about Warriors games is the full Bay experience involved. When Tim Roye said “The Bay’s team . . . is the best team!” in 2015 in Cleveland, he wasn’t parsing between Giants and A’s or 49ers and Raiders. The Warriors are our only NBA entry, and from Santa Rosa to Gilroy to Livermore to The City and Oakland and back, it’s one love. I was on the Muni light rail after Game 5 and it stopped in front of Oracle Park. A’s and Giants fans clambered aboard and some Giants-A’s jocular banter burst out until one cooler head said, “Go Warriors! Let’s talk about something we can all agree on!” Peace and joy reigned on the S Train.

So Chase Center on Wednesday night was several things: it was expensive (so was Oracle later in the playoff years); it was full of the same Warriors fans who had been at Oracle (nice to see everyone); and it was probably a little too quiet for the first three quarters. Was that because Chase Center fans are soft? Or because the Nuggets had successfully destroyed the Warriors on the glass and drained the water from the Poole Party? 

It was because of the latter, sports fans. Not too many arenas fire up when Nikola Jokic continues to feather in 6-footers and Aaron Gordon repeatedly takes you to the rim. 

Because I am here to tell you that when Gary Payton II took a cross-court pass from Otto Porter and stroked the 3 point shot to turn an 84-83 deficit into an 86-84 lead, Chase rocked with Oracle-like soul.

The entire arena stood from that point on, which made up for the time in the 3rd quarter when the guy behind us told my 10-year-old son, who stands 4-foot-11, to sit down while he cheered for the Dubs on defense.

Now maybe *that* guy is what Oakland is talking about when they talk about Chase Center fans. Grrrrr.

Other than that, the fan base was diverse in age, demographic, ethnicity, bound by one common cause — whatever jersey the Warriors were wearing that night. (Because these days in the NBA, you never know. Turns out it was the new black home jerseys Wednesday night. Whatever.)

Steph’s drives to the buckets = exultation. Stopping the Nuggets possession after possession = the satisfied roar of defense. And Gary Payton’s Nuggets-killing 3? Goosebumps. And, yes, “Warrrrrrrrrrriors” chants. 

Here’s the best part. Chase is only now getting its first layer of playoff experience. A semifinal scrape with Memphis should bring out more. And God wiling and the creeks don’t rise, a Western Conference Finals run. And then the dream — an NBA Finals in the new building.

I get it. New stuff is never as old school as old stuff. Candlestick was never Kezar. Levi’s will never be Candlestick.

And Chase will never be Oracle. 

But, it can be Chase. And that might be good enough.

 

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