Raucous Warriors rally caps championship season
Seemingly all of Dub Nation packed itself into one square mile of Oakland Thursday. Decked in their blue and gold best, they yearned for a chance to rain love and adoration on the crowned kings of the NBA.
Get this straight, though: This swarming mass of humanity — approximately four times the population of Cleveland — didn’t crowd “The Town” to celebrate a championship, nor were they there to celebrate the season that was.
The Golden State Warriors, having qualified for three consecutive NBA Finals — winning two — have placed themselves firmly on the precipice of something reserved for the all-time great teams. A title not taken lightly.
The emcee of the day’s rally, team television voice Bob Fitzgerald, summed up the climb in his opening comments:
“In life, it’s not always the destination, it’s the journey. So when I look at 1.5 million members of Dub Nation, realize where we’ve come from to get here today. After wandering in the wilderness for a long time, we went from ‘We Believe,’ to five straight playoff years of ‘We Belong,’ to winning the title — to we’re the best. To, today, we’re not done.”
The Warriors came one lights-out performance from the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers away from an unprecedented undefeated 16-0 playoff run. Being stopped short of perfection, something two-time league MVP Stephen Curry said the team wanted, was not allowed to rain on the parade.
After addressing where he was one year ago — both emotionally and physically, no doubt — Curry closed the rally with his plans moving forward, donning a baseball cap stitched with his favorite scripture, “I can do all things,” and a shirt reading “made that old”:
“We want to keep this thing going, be out here in this Cali sunshine every June. Dub Nation, we’re champs. We the champs.”
Through more than an hour of parading, and two more of rallying (following an hour-long break), the cheering never stopped. When Kevin Durant was announced, chants of “MVP” roared across Lake Merritt — the same happened whenever Curry’s name was mentioned. In every pause, “let’s go Warriors.” In every dip “Warriors, Warriors.”
This crowd knew the significance. This crowd knew the importance. And none of them needed to tell co-owner Peter Guber.
Guber was waving three fingers throughout the parade. And when his stood up from his seat on the stage, his t-shirt unfurled revealing the same symbol. Co-owner, Joe Lacob verbalized the meaning of that shirt:
“You have to dream. We achieved the dream. And I’ll tell you, I’ve got another dream. Do you know what that dream is? More. More championships for the Golden State Warriors.”
Once again, the crowd took its cue. Almost as if it were reliving Kevin Durant‘s clutch, go-ahead 3 with 45.3 seconds left to erase a second-half deficit in Game 3, Dub Nation erupted.
Durant was somewhat subdued addressing his fan base, thanking fans for their support and energy. The mild-mannered Klay Thompson took the same approach.
It was almost as if the players, coaches and executives who spoke directly to “The Nation” were tip-toeing around the elephant in the room. Until, that is, “Fitz” handed the mic to Draymond Green, adding that it had become time for “the most dangerous part of the day.”
Unlike his teammates, Green was unwilling to prance past national accusations that the Warriors’ latest title, the franchise’s fifth, was somehow flawed after the addition of Durant. Wearing a shirt with Quicken Loans Arena’s “Q” reading “Quickie,” in honor of Cleveland’s quick dispatching, Green demanded recognition be placed where it belonged, with general manager Bob Myers:
“Can somebody give Bob some fuckin’ credit. They wanna talk about super teams this, super teams that.”
Green not only reminded the crowd that Myers is responsible for drafting three of the Warriors “Big Four,” he went after LeBron James, who said following his fifth Finals defeat that he had never been part of a “super team”:
“‘I’ve never played on a super team.’ You started the super team, bro. ‘I ain’t join a super team.'”
“Super Team” or not. Acknowledgement of greatness or not. NBA fans worldwide have no choice but accept this Warriors team for what it is — a dynasty. And if you’re willing to accept the sentiments of eight-year NBA vet and current TV color man Jim Barnett, one of the great teams ever.
Looking to the future, extended success will go beyond talent, or talent evaluation. Just ask the man responsible for putting together the team. Myers pulled from the mind of one the man behind one of college basketball’s great dynasties — UCLA coach John Wooden:
“It takes talent to get to the top, but it takes character to stay there.”
And character is something, in the minds of the people inside the Warriors offices all the way down to those unable to see over their brethren, is something this team has more of than talent.