For the first time since moving into San Francisco’s Chase Center, the Golden State Warriors are the favorites to win the NBA championship.
It’s exactly what local fans envisioned when the team moved to the city from Oakland after winning three of the previous five NBA Finals. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans. Not long after Chase Center opened in September 2019, the pandemic, personnel changes and key injuries contributed to a pair of lackluster seasons for the Dubs.
The Warriors’ first season in their new home had already been soured by the heartbreaking Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors and the twin injuries of Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant—who was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in July of 2019.
Things took an even stranger turn when Covid forced the entire NBA to finish the 2019-2020 season in quarantine at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Steph Curry hurt his hand and superstar sharpshooter Thompson sat on the sidelines for 941 days straight with injuries prior to making his return this season. Since moving to the city, the Warriors have been relatively quiet, without a playoff appearance to show for themselves in the Chase Center.
But now Thompson and Curry—a.k.a. “The Splash Brothers”—are firing on all cylinders alongside the burgeoning young star Jordan Poole and a cast of reliable role players. Fans in San Francisco are ready to make up for lost time.
Hours before tipoff Wednesday night, fans started lining up at the doors of the Chase Center and gathering in Thrive City—the 3.2 acre plaza surrounding the stadium—for an outdoor watch party of the first game of the Western Conference Finals.
The Warriors showed out for the home crowd in a convincing fashion coming away with a 25 point victory. The team—and their fans—will be back at the Chase Center on Friday for game two of the series.
“Last time when we were winning our championships, I took it for granted and then we hit our drought,” said Jason Russell, a lifelong Warriors fan from Fairfield. “I don’t know when we’ll get back here, so I had to show up.”David Sjostedt can be reached at [email protected].