Warriors want another Oakland title before move
OAKLAND, Calif. — As the Golden State Warriors get set for the start of another year in their championship reign, All-Star swingman Klay Thompson says one of the group’s biggest sources of motivation is that it is the last opportunity to win in Oakland.
After 47 years at Oracle Arena, the Warriors will move to the sparkling new Chase Center in San Francisco next season.
“We want to do it for the fans of Oakland,” Thompson said after Sunday’s practice. “Been so loyal to us for forty-plus years, whatever it’s been since they’ve been in Oracle. So that definitely helps with this season. It’s leaving a big legacy behind in Oakland because people might not get to see us as much in San Francisco. And just enjoying this every night.
“We have such a special group. We play in front of such amazing fans. And every game is so much fun because it’s such an amazing atmosphere. It’s not like we’re playing in front of 6-7,000 people a night. It’s sold out. It doesn’t matter who we play, preseason, finals. It’s easy to come to work when you’ve got a fan base like we have.”
Thompson, entering his eighth season, has spent entire professional career playing in Oakland. Being able to win one more time in the old arena, for the fans in the East Bay, was a major point for Warriors coach Steve Kerr early in camp. Thompson believes his team will feed off that pride throughout the year.
“I think we’ll all feed off it,” Thompson said. “That’s one of the things Steve talked about in our first meeting as a team this year, was our love for Oakland and the fans. I look at the pictures on the wall, I see the parades. Just driving around town seeing how happy people are, it gives me, gives us, motivation to keep going.”
Kerr acknowledged earlier in camp that he and his players were sad to be leaving the old arena.
“It is bittersweet,” Kerr said. “The new arena’s going to be amazing and we’re all excited about that, but we’re all bummed to be moving on from Oracle. So we would love to finish it the right way. It’s hard to replicate an atmosphere like Oracle’s. I think back to the Boston Garden, going to the new Garden. The old Chicago Stadium where I played to the new one. It’s hard to create that same sort of intimacy when you’re building a new arena with suites and concourses and everything else.
“So we know this new arena’s going to be great for our organization and it’s going to provide an incredible viewing experience for people coming in but that doesn’t make it any easier to leave Oracle.”
Warriors superstar Stephen Curry echoed similar sentiments on media day.
“This last year is going to be special,” Curry said. “This is — how many years we’ve played at Oracle, the journey, from some pretty down years to some really entertaining basketball but didn’t win much, to now having won three out of the last four, all that happened in Oracle Arena.
“Our fan base has been tremendously supportive. They’ve given us a feared place to play in from an opponent standpoint in terms of the noise and the energy and the atmosphere. That’s something we really relied on. Honestly, for me, it’s my 10th year in the league, that’s been my only experience, and it’s something that I’ll remember for a very long time.
“I think this year is about obviously representing that to the highest honor, celebrating it, trying to go out in style with one more championship, and then obviously turning the page. But right now this year is going to be really, really memorable, and I think we have an extreme opportunity to create a dope story around the last year in Oakland.”
As the Warriors gear up for Tuesday’s regular season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Thompson and his teammates are just trying to give Oracle Arena the best possible finale they can.
“I think if we do what we did last year and the year before it will be a beautiful year again,” Thompson said of his team’s mindset. “I think we just got to stay focused and enjoy every night. Do those two things — play with joy and focus and we’ll be great.”