After Super Bowl XLVII, I was inconsolable over the 49ers’ pants-pissing loss (I’m too young to remember the golden years), and the Giants’ post–World Series Opening Day seemed very, very far away. Bored and kind of depressed about the 49ers (if only I had known how much worse it could get), I began paying attention when the Warriors were on at my favorite dive bar. It was near the beginning of Curry Mania, I lived in San Francisco and my friends and family are Warriors fans, and I was just happy to have something to hold me over until late April.
Somehow, maybe fortuitously, my casual interest in basketball coincided with the Warriors’ meteoric rise from a super-fun team that hit a lot of threes to probably the greatest team in NBA history. I still just consider myself along for the ride.
I don’t give a shit about pretending to know what the Warriors were up to in the mid-aughts in order to enjoy the Warriors’ style of play now. What I like about the team is what I’m watching right now—Steph Curry does cool shots and Kevin Durant does good dunks—and anything prior to or after these golden years is not something I’m concerned with at the moment.
My appreciation is a blind affection based on the aesthetic of the ball movement and feel of the pace and the thrill of the impossible shot. I enjoy it, even if I don’t really understand it (beyond the obvious).
I’ve seen kids these days become obsessed with Steph Curry the way my friends and I were obsessed with Michael Jordan back in the day. It seems like most playgrounds in America (Cleveland excepted, probably) have a kid or two running around in a Curry shirt or jersey at any given time. All they know about the dude is that he makes mid-court jump shots and was the first unanimous MVP, and that’s good enough for them. Their appreciation is pure in a way that few things around and involving sports can be these days, and it’s one of my favorite things about Warrior Mania.
I enjoy watching the Warriors, but I’m not emotionally invested in the team the way that I am with the 49ers or the Giants. When they blew a 3-1 lead in last year’s Finals, I didn’t spend a week watching Netflix and groaning on the couch like I did after the 49ers’ Super Bowl loss. When Draymond Green kicks a guy in the dick, I don’t have to do any mental gymnastics to continue justifying my fandom. He’s an asshole, but I don’t have to defend him.
When it comes to basketball and the Warriors, this is me:
In 2015, it was fun as hell to watch the Warriors win the Finals, but mostly I wished I could be back in the Bay for the days to follow; there’s nothing like a city that’s overcome with shared ecstasy. I held my breath until the last buzzer of the 2016 Finals, but watching LeBron do it all himself sparked a small joy in my cold, dead heart, that I’m not sure I would have felt if I was a proper Warriors fanatic.
What’s left as a question mark for me is what level of attention I will pay to the NBA after this Warriors team is past their peak. I don’t know if I can watch a regular season Pistons game or whatever when my introduction to regularly watching the sport is this crew. The Warriors have been a hell of a high the last few years, and I don’t know how I’ll chase it after this incredible run ends.
Game 5 is tonight, and by tomorrow I will either be feeling pretty good about the Warriors winning a second championship in three years and hassling my coworkers, or feeling pretty concerned about a potential repeat of last year’s debacle. There will be a lot of emotions and takes about either outcome, but as much as I may want the Warriors to win, I will go on unapologetically enjoying my very zen and balanced relationship with Warriors fandom. Go Dubs.