It was a situation which the dominant Golden State Warriors team had relished in recent years: A slight lead in Game 6 of the NBA Finals with 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter and a fast-break dish from Stephen Curry to Klay Thompson in their familiar Oracle Arena. But in this situation, Klay not only missed the dunk, he walked off Oakland’s home court for the last time with a torn ACL.
It may have been the result of five years of playing deep into the playoffs, where the Warriors simply couldn’t scratch out one more miracle. It may have been the newest curse in sports – The Curse of Oakland.
In the beginning of 2019, the Warriors opened their season in the brand-new, state-of-the-art Chase Arena in downtown San Francisco, with tech bigwigs sporting their Patagonia vests as they enter another season with Northern California’s favorite sports team. But this season seemed different. On top of the injured Klay, the team was missing recently departed superstar Kevin Durant, who had fled to Brooklyn for a new situation (and a torn achilles). That’s when things started getting weird.
Just weeks into the season, Curry suffered a broken hand, one that will eventually keep him out for the season. Then it was Draymond Green’s turn, tearing a ligament in his hand and missing games. Now, a team that had boasted four All Stars as recently as 2018, was being led by players like D’Angelo Russel and Willie Cauley-Stein.
Let’s make no bones about – Oracle Arena was a dump. One of the best team’s in NBA history was playing NBA Finals games in front of some of the world’s richest tech entrepreneurs in what felt like a rundown strip mall. The seats were old, bathrooms were gross and technology was putrid. Even an organization as mediocre as the Oakland Raiders were about to split for greener pastures, and it’s no surprise the Warriors did the same.
But what Oracle lacked in technology and cleanliness, it made up for with true fandom. These are the fans that filled the arena with players like Al Harrington and Vladimir Radmanovic stinking up the place. They were diverse and passionate, the exact opposite you’ll find in the overpriced seats of the Chase Center today.
Sports curses are prominent throughout history. The Curse of the Bambino set of 86 years of agony for Red Sox Fans. The Billy Goat Curse has seen a century of losing for the Chicago Cubs. And I can’t think of a better way to get cursed, then to abandon the fans that stood by your side through years of embarrassment and heartbreak.
As of writing this, the Warriors have the worst record in the league and look more like a G-League team than the perennial powerhouse we’ve come to know. And it’s entirely possible a lottery draft pick along with some healthy superstars could bring the team back to prominence in 2020-21. But it seems like this Warriors team may have seen their championship-winning days go by. We’ll have to see just how long it lasts.
Ladies and gentlemen, we may just now be seeing the beginning of The Curse of Oakland.
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine