Politics, sports and money are Intertwined.
Excerpted from The Guardian 4.9.2019
There is no precedent in American pro sports for the relocation that the Golden State Warriors will make this summer from Oracle Arena, their unlovely yet beloved home in Oakland for the past 47 years, to the $1bn Chase Center, located across the bay near downtown San Francisco and stocked with all the amenities that 21st century sports fans supposedly require (luxury suites, locally harvested avocado toast) and that 21st century superstar athletes definitely require, like locker rooms that don’t flood.
What’s more, the story of the Warriors is inextricably linked to Oakland’s racial and political fabric at a key moment in post-civil rights USA, not to mention in the NBA’s evolution as a league, both on the court (Nellieball!) and off it, from a niche league with a primarily African American fanbase to what it is now: the most dynamic league in America, led by Steph Curry, a superstar whose mere physical appearance – light skin, boyish smile – reflects for many black NBA fans the gradual whitening of the league and the erosion of the game’s inner-city roots. And nothing – nothing – drives that feeling home for the city of Oakland like their Warriors leaving for upscale, IPO-inflated, impenetrably expensive, lily-white San Francisco.
For one thing, the Warriors are the first of two pro franchises that the city of Oakland will lose in the next 12 months. The Raiders will be right behind them, relocating to Las Vegas in 2020. And yet, even though the Raiders are leaving the state entirely, the Warriors’ departure for San Francisco – wealthy, impenetrable, white; everything Oakland isn’t – may be the more painful exit of the two.
Don’t say that in the presence of a Raiders fan unless you want your head split with a pole axe, but the fact is, the Raiders have already left once (for Los Angeles) and as long as Al Davis’s nitwit son owns the team there’s no reason to think they won’t be back. After all, this wouldn’t be the first shotgun marriage in Vegas to go wrong in a hurry.
What’s really unusual here is the combination of a team with a legendarily rabid fanbase at once staying close to home and moving to another world entirely. The Warriors are moving from a place (Oakland) where everyone is a Warriors fan to another place (San Francisco) where everyone is a Warriors fan – but something much more elemental about the team is going to change along with the zip code. In true Silicon Valley fashion, Golden State’s relocation – they played their final regular season game at the Oracle on Sunday night – is like gene therapy, a rewriting of the core DNA of a franchise that forged its identity in Oakland and in direct opposition to what its fancy new home represents.