Local Fans Contribute to Community Atmosphere

Warriors+legend+Rick+Barry+defends+owner+Joe+Lacob+from+booing+fans+in+2012.+Since+then%2C+much+has+changed+in+the+Warrior%27s+fortunes

Carlos Avila Gonzales, SF Chronicle

Warriors legend Rick Barry defends owner Joe Lacob from booing fans in 2012. Since then, much has changed in the Warrior's fortunes

Will Richardson, Staff Writer

It was just a little more than four years ago, but it must feel like an eternity for Golden State Warriors fans: In March 2012, the Warriors traded away star Point Guard Monta Ellis, with the owner, Joe Lacob, putting his faith for the future of the franchise in the hands of the the largely unproven 24 year-old Stephen Curry. A week after this trade came out, Lacob was relentlessly booed by the Oracle Arena crowd as he was giving a speech honoring legendary player Chris Mullin, whose jersey was being retired that night.

“Monta Ellis was my favorite player on the Warriors,” junior Stephen Hyman said. “When this trade happened I was livid. For the rest of that season I, and a lot of my friends at school, had a hard time even watching the Warriors. It just felt like they didn’t want to progress beyond the 8-seed contender label they had.”

Many of them even turned a blind eye to Curry, until he became famous. Now, hindsight is 20/20, and the story here is easy to finish. Curry became the best player on the planet, the Warriors brought in a young, dynamic supporting cast, and they became 2015 NBA champions, only to follow that up with the greatest season ever by an NBA team. Nowadays, it is hard to walk down the street without seeing someone clad in the blue and gold of the Dubs, especially now in the middle of playoff time.

The San Francisco Giants have had a largely similar path, only their success has come in spurts. The Giants had losing seasons five out of the six years before winning the 2010 World Series. Of course, the Giants followed that victory up with another in 2012. And 2014. Now, in 2016, another ‘even year’, people are buying the hype, with the second most money bet on the Giants bringing home the commissioner’s trophy this year, despite missing the playoffs entirely last year and finishing 8 games back of the Dodgers.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many Miramonte students fall into the category of what are known as bandwagon fans. Almost invariably, when these teams struggle, people don’t really pay attention to them. “I, like a lot of Miramonte students, honestly don’t really care about the Warriors or Giants until the playoffs start,” senior John Stenovec said.

Another place where the influx of support for the warriors is reflected is in merchandise sales, where the Warriors, not even in the top 10 for jersey sales in 2013, climbed steadily as the team improved: to 8th in 2014, 3rd in 2015, and now 1st in 2016.

The concept of supporting the best players and teams is completely understandable. After all, what little kid playing pickup basketball with their friends is going to want to pretend to be Larry Nance Jr., or some other NBA washout, and realistically, what casual fan is going to watch the Sixers play and say “This is fun!”? They want to represent winners, and want to support winners. Even fans such as Hayden Bradley, a senior who is a regular attendee at Oracle Arena and watches every Warriors game he can, remembers a time growing up when he would yell “Kobe!” after swishing a three. “It’s way more fun to watch teams win than lose, and that is shown by the massive support for the Warriors the past few seasons,” Bradley said.

But does it come to a point where the community’s sudden nigh-universal support of a team which seemed an afterthought a few years ago goes too far? Some think so. “I bet a large portion of Warriors fans right now couldn’t tell you one player on the 06-07 Warriors team, the last time they made the playoffs,” Miramonte senior James Vaccaro said.

This point of view also makes sense, but this ostracization and dismissing support of the Warriors and Giants as ‘bandwagon fans’ has gone too far. For a good part of fans, having more people to discuss their favorite teams with is only a positive thing. “I really enjoy getting to talk to more people than just one or two friends about the last Warriors game.” junior Ben Wemer said. “When a whole community seems to get behind a team and want to see it do well, it is really fun to be a part of. I still remember the times this year when random strangers would wish me luck whenever I wore my Miramonte Football sweatshirt around Orinda. When you are part of something like this, with the whole town supporting you, it’s special.”

Wemer still remembers the loud cheers he heard from both neighbors in 2010, when Brian Wilson finished off the Texas Rangers and won the Giants their first World Series since moving from New York.

“No one should feel like they can’t cheer for a team when they are doing well just based on other’s reactions,” junior Sam Foster said, and junior Tim Tague agrees: “Not everyone can say that they have been rooting for a team their whole lives, but there is nothing wrong with a community wanting to see their local teams succeed.”

As the Warriors currently carry a 2-0 lead in the Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, many fans will be showing their colors and preparing to celebrate another prospective title coming back to The Bay. This is irrespective of how long they have been following the team for; they all want the same thing, ‘bandwagon’ or not. “It would be great if even more people started following the warriors,” Tague says. “More people to celebrate with when they win.”