Oakland Fans Getting the Short Straw

It’s not hyperbole to say the Warriors are in the beginning stages of a NBA dynasty. They are the class of the NBA and the best part  about them is that their important talent came in the draft: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green. Their success is based on what they built. The addition of Kevin Durant has kept the train moving. They have won two titles in three years. After becoming the greatest regular season team in NBA history, they dominated the postseason the following year on way to a title, and posted the best postseason record in NBA history. No one can blame them for a little bit of arrogant flexing. Look around the league. Everyone has the Warriors flu. Teams have blown their franchises up trying to compete. Chris Paul is in Houston. Kyrie irving wants out of Cleveland. Jimmy Butler is in Minnesota.

A full season has passed since Warriors owner Joe Lacob, all full of himself, proclaimed the Warriors “light years” ahead of every other NBA organization. He didn’t say this after a Warriors three-peat or 4 titles in 6 years. He said it after 1 championship. And then the Warriors lost game 7 at Oracle and Lacob’s “light years” comment seemed pretty ill-timed and premature. Until they grabbed Kevin Durant and won the championship again.

There is no arguing the Warriors success and system. In capitalism, success is translated into making more money. The Warriors make money on the court because they win. They make money off the court because they win. Usually when that happens, someone like a machinist or mechanic gets screwed.

The getting screwed part is almost here. The Warriors will be the first team in the NBA to force season ticket holders, about 12,000, to buy personal seat licenses. But the Warriors are prettying it up and calling it a membership plan. The membership plan or Personal Seat License are paid licenses that allow the license holder to buy seats in a stadium. PSL’s have a purpose. The money accrued helps defray construction costs; fans are lending the team money. A cynical way to look at it is fans pay for owners newer, shinier stadiums yet receive zero financial benefit. No free parking. No discounted wings and beer. No markdown price on jerseys.

The new San Francisco digs cost nearly a billion dollars. California taxpayers won’t approve financing, or what I like to call welfare for billionaires. So the membership plan jams the ordinary fan. In the Warriors case, membership for the new arena will be $15,000 as the median price. Some licences will be more. Some will be less. In 30 years, the money will be fully refunded. Membership fees can be sold but only through the Warriors, meaning customers cannot make a profit like they do in the NFL.

No one is stupid here. The only ones able to buy into this capitalistic structure in 2019-2020 will be the champagne/Mercedes Benz crowd.

The current Warriors fan will have two seasons to be happy and to beat their chest in Oakland. It may seem too far in the distance for the Oracle faithful to contemplate how everything will be different but rest assured, it is coming. It is going to mean Warrior games in Oakland are over. The death star is looming. After 48 seasons, it all goes dark in Oakland, sooner rather than later.

The Chase Center needs a nickname. It could be called Rich People Hate Us. Or the 1% Arena. Or Income Inequality R Us.

“Every city needs it. We need it. It will be great for San Francisco.” (Peter Guber)

And a kick in the gut for Oakland. Yes, every city needs to be devastated like this.

Like a runaway train barreling down the tracks without brakes, and at breakneck speed, the Oakland die hards are going to get crushed. They are going to be left with memories as the San Francisco crowd the private financing is going to lure in establishes the market price far beyond what Oakland fans can pay.

In Oakland, the ones being forced out are the loyal fans who were never front runners. They never became Lakers fans on the sly. They didn’t cheer for the Kings in 2002. It was all about Oakland.

They came because Oracle and the Warriors are an Oakland thing. It is about our community and how we fellowship with one another. We cheer when the Warriors are excellent. We covered our eyes when Latrell Sprewell choked P.J. Carlisimo. We were enthralled when Antawn Jamison and Kobe Bryant put on a show, 51 points each. We are amazed each time Steph Curry makes his spectacular three point shot from everywhere.

We loved Nelly ball. We bitched when Run TMC was broken up. We threw up our hands when Kobe Bryant was available and he wasn’t drafted but Todd Fuller was. The next year, Tracy McGrady was in the draft and we went all in on Adonal Foyle.

Fans stayed true. We came. We endured. We suffered. We exhaled. We sold out Oracle, game after game after game. Season after season. 19 wins. 17 wins. 21 wins. 38 wins. 37 wins. 34 wins. We kept coming.

We remember Kelenna Azubuike and Mickael Pietrus and when Jason Richardson won back-to-back slam dunk titles. Some of us are old enough to remember Joe Barry Carroll and yes we booed on Chris Mullin night but the players the Warriors passed on would make an All-Star team. Besides McGrady and Kobe there was Clyde Drexler, Gary Payton, Penny Hardaway. Chris Webber was Rookie of the Year. Of course, he was traded.

We cared about Gilbert Arenas before he went all rouge. We tried to love Mike Dunleavy. We did. Then when he was utterly hopeless, it left us no choice but to start chanting Skeletor every time he touched the ball.

Baron Davis made our heart explode when he helped take down the #1 seed Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs. Monta Ellis, the Mississippi pure scorer, became one of us. He was Oakland.

Question: Will the team continue to be an active part of the Oakland community?

“The team has played a large and important role in the Oakland community, most recently renovating and unveiling Chris Mullin Basketball Courts in East Oakland and supporting the development of the state-of-the-art East Oakland Sports Complex. The Warriors are committed to maintaining a close connection to Oakland as well as the Bay Area as a whole.”

In two years, Oakland will be without a football and a basketball team. From August to April it will get very dreary in the East Bay.

photo via llananba