The night I saw the Golden State Warriors

I woke up groggy yesterday morning.  Stumbling to the kitchen, I made myself some coffee, careful not to trip over anything on my way to the grind.

Once my eyelids became unstuck and rest of me became somewhat coherent, I took to social media to see what was on the agenda for the day.  I had just written a piece on the Race and the NBA that I wanted to post before hitting the gym for some well-needed yoga.

Those plans were about to change once I saw that the Beatles were in town.

Fans go crazy over beatles

We’ve talked about my Stevie Ray Vaughn rule before.  It’s about living life with no regrets.  It harkens back to the day I chose not to see SRV play at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival only to have him die tragically in a helicopter crash three months later.

The Golden State Warriors were headed to Amway Arena some eighty miles away.  I had done nothing but write about this historic team all season long.  It was time for me to take a road trip.

After taking far too long to traverse Interstate 4 thanks partially to a late start but mostly to construction that has gone on for far too long, I arrived in downtown Orlando an hour and a half after departure.  I parked my car within walking distance of the stadium.  It was a brisk 62 degrees.  Good thing I layered up.

I didn’t have tickets, assuming I’d be able to buy a reasonably priced single from the box office.  I was wrong.  When I asked the rather inhospitable and certainly lacking in sales skills lady behind the window about the best tickets available, she said the lowest priced upper bowl tickets were going for $150.  Those closer to the court were going for over $500!

Crikey!  I was willing to splurge but I wasn’t expecting that.  Off to the scalpers I went.

I found some pretty exorbitant prices on the streets but nothing close to five bills.  Who would have thought the NBA would try to rake me more than the street sweepers?

After brushing off several sweet-talkers, I finally found one man who would sell me his lower bowl seat for $200.  After handing him the cash, I walked into the arena and handed security my ticket.  The alarm went off.  The ticket was no good.  The evening had suddenly gone awry.

I quickly turned around, looking to see if the man who had sold me the ticket was still outside.  Somehow, someway, the world’s nicest scalper was there waiting to confirm my entry.  When he saw me walk back out, he handed me my money, apologizing. I guess he didn’t want a bad Yelp rating.

Another gentleman who had overheard our transaction offered me his tickets, which were better, for the same price.  Sixth row, baseline, to see one of the greatest teams ever assembled… for $200. Yes please.

golden ticket

After grabbing a cold brew, I sat down in my seat, secretly ecstatic with my purchase and unsure of whom to root for.  A Magic fan for so many years, this Golden State team is hard, and often pointless, to root against.  At least that’s what much of the arena thought.  Amway Arena, which is beautiful by the way, was overrun with Golden State fans.  I couldn’t help but wonder if they drew that sort of crowd everywhere they went.

Shortly after seven p.m., the ball was tipped.  The game, and its brightest star, did not disappoint.  Early on, Steph Curry drew both Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo defensively.  It made no matter.  Curry had fifteen points in the first quarter.

Despite his hotness’ hotness, the Magic played well, at least for a while.  Leading 63-59 at halftime, they had held Curry to only 22 points.  This is me laughing under my breath.

Then came the third quarter that made me and 19,000 other fans feel whatever we paid for our tickets that night was well worth the price of admission.

To put it simply Stephen Curry went off.  I mean, he was lights out.  The likeable star was drawing oohs and aahs with every basket.  The man is single-handedly making yellow fashionable.

Curry mask

He had scored 32 points midway through the third quarter after having sat out for much of the second.  It soon became clear that the only person who could stop him from scoring was his Coach Steve Kerr.

And then it happened.

Up by five, the Warriors inbounded the ball with and three seconds left.  Curry caught the inbounds pass, took a few swift dribbles and launched a shot from half court.

Soft bank in and… effortless.

The crowd cheered, knowing all along the ball would go in.  How could you not?  It’s what we all had paid to see.  He finished with 24 points in that quarter alone.

Curry bench (2)

I don’t mean to make it sound like Steph Curry was the only person on the floor that night.  Marreese Speights played extremely well off the bench for Golden State.  With 14 points, he was actually the Warriors’ second leading scorer.  He must have been happy to be back in Florida, hours where he played his college ball.  For the Magic, the Frenchman Evan Fournier and recent slam dunk runner-up Aaron Gordon both played well but they were no match for the defending champs.  It’s not them we came to see.  Shouts of “Curry” rang from the rafters.  Kids and adults of all ages wore his jersey.  The man has officially catapulted himself into superstardom with good reason.  I wouldn’t have driven to Orlando otherwise.

Midway through the fourth quarter, with a comfortable lead, Curry re-entered the game to chants of MVP.  Keep in mind I drove not to Oakland for this game.  It was played in Orlando.

Curry had scored 46 points in two-and-a-half quarters.  Steve Kerr put him back in to get his fifty.

Curry finished with 51.

curry bench

The evening was record-setting.  With that effort, Curry has now hit a three-point basket in 127 consecutive games, a new league record.  In addition to that, according to Elias Sports Bureau, he became the first player in NBA history to score fifty-plus points while attempting one or fewer field goals.

And I was there.  No regrets.  Thank you, Stevie.

If you still don’t believe Stephen Curry’s a draw, here’s a fact for you.

I was talking to a man on line in the men’s room after the game.  Both he and his son were wearing Curry jerseys.

We were marveling about his 51 when the man confessed that he and his family had planned their entire vacation around this one game.  They were visiting from Vancouver, some 3,000 miles away.  He was grinning from ear to ear, knowing this was a trip neither he nor his son would ever forget.

In other words, even Mickey Mouse took a back seat to Stephen Curry.  It’s a good thing he didn’t disappoint.

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23 Replies to “The night I saw the Golden State Warriors”

  1. I take exception to one line:
    “The man is single-handedly making yellow fashionable.”

    Bite your tongue sir.
    Yellow has been in style since Baylor and West.

    …But I’m glad you got your taste of Curry, Chumpdog Millionaire.

    I’m a little jealous. I’ve yet to see him play live.

    For me, this is the worst aspect of the Clippers no longer being the laughingstock of Los Angeles sports…I used to get free Clippers tickets all the time through work and friends…But ever since David Stern’s fast one, those freeloading days are history.

  2. Nice story Chris, thanks for sharing. It is pretty amazing to watch Steph do, so effortlessly. what he does. What’s more amazing is like the GREATS, before him, can do it at anytime. He makes others around him better getting them engaged early. Something I wish Kobe had learned and that Lebron is getting a little better at. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Laker fan fo’ sho’ from back in the days…and have nuthin’ but love for Kobe, but it is a part of his game that has been missing, (in my humble opinion), most of his career.
    Golden State is a team to be reckoned with, no question, and watching this young phenom play is something to remember. I’m glad you had the nerve to go and see for yourself what all the hype is about 🙂

  3. Great, great post. Loved the pix & your terrific experience. Great read. And you looked amazing- so glad you had fun & saw a memorable game. Well done Sir!

  4. I thought that was gold, Bleed. The Warriors wear a bright ass yellow.

    And no lie, there were easily a few thousand GSW shirts in the crowd that night, most of them with Curry’s name somewhere on ’em.

  5. Well worth it, G.

    I drove from Tampa to Orlando without hesitation once I found out who was playing there. This team was on the verge of history, I wasn’t gonna miss it.

    Here’s a few things that have surprised me about Curry. We all knew he could shoot. But I wasn’t sure if, at point guard, he’d be able to handle the ins and outs of an 82-game schedule at that position.

    He’s a fantastic passer, not only looking to shoot and score but keeping his head up for the open man, which is, and isn’t, easy to do when he’s drawing that much attention.

    No lie, man. It was a thrill.

  6. Possible history in the making ? This Warriors’ team is good enough to break the Chicago Bulls’ single-season record of 72-10 and go on to win the NBA championship itself and making a successful defense of their title. Their record this season has been fantastic alongside some historical firsts for the franchise and league (fastest to record 50 wins in a season , win percentage rate through fifty games , FG % , FTA % , three-point % and the lists goes on).

    Steph Curry prohibitive favorite for League MVP and Steve Kerr should win Coach of The Year. If the idiots who adjudicate the awards come up with an alternatives without looking at the facts borne out in front of them , then they are clearly in denial and delusional .

    The current Golden State Warriors’ roster is better than last year’s , even with a few minor tweaks (new faces on the team) .

  7. New computer – trying to get it right. You in fact DID get it right with your comments. I don’t watch NBA basketball as a rule but with a 23 yo college new graduate (anybody looking for a chemical engineer?) and a 14 yo in the house, when the Warriors come on, it’s on our TV. About to drive the wife mad, but come on, it’s must watch TV most nights. Glad you got to see it.

  8. Great write up on Curry and of course it only got better over the weekend. The latest criticism of him from another long retired player is astounding in my view since he’s become as good a ball handler as he is a shooter. How do you stop this guy?!

  9. Al…

    At 54-5, I don’t see how this team CAN’T break the record at this point. It’s gonna be fun to watch.

    And I didn’t realize there has never been a unanimous MVP award winner. No player has ever got every single vote.

    Unless there’s a sportswriter who wants to get his name in the paper, Curry could be the first.

  10. Moose…

    It was thrilling to see live. And I’m telling you. You should have seen the reaction the guy got from the crowd.

    Kids everywhere shouting his name, wearing his jersey.

    I’m trying to think of the last cult athlete we’ve had like this. Tiger Woods, maybe?

  11. Liar North…

    I’ll have my take up on the Oscar Robertson comments soon.

    And if the Warriors haven’t played in Charlotte yet, I highly recommend you go. Just expect to pay a pretty penny to get in the building. It’s okay. I know you can afford it, what with that pool AND pond in your yard.

    Pond’d be good for you.

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  13. Oh you know me Triple SC, I still haven’t gone crazy for NBA…but I remembered the highlights of that game on ESPN and was excited about Curry’s 2nd half performance! Wow… and knowing you were there for the frenzy! Woo Hoo! Priceless.

    I enjoyed this post. So fun. So happy you captured an amazing memory witnessing spectacular record breaking stats.
    Dee Dee

  14. Nice, glad you got to see him up close! I’ve go to a handful of games out here each year, and there really is no better show in town. I still am having a hard time coming to grips that the Warriors are a historically great team with a generational player leading them, although I still wear my Sprewell jersey with pride from time to time. It must be a reward/karma for those decades of suffering through crappy teams. I used to be able to get into Oracle for $10-$15 now those seats in the upper deck go for $150. Lower bowl in Oakland will cost you at least $250-$300. I don’t go to nearly as many games as I used to, but seeing him perform in person is well worth the price of admission. I figure I better get in more games now before they move to SF and truly price out fans like me!

  15. I want to see how the Spurs will fare against the Warriors when they meet in the playoffs. The regular season meeting with San Antonio getting blown out of the water was a wake up call for the rest of the league as to how good Golden State just happens to be. What Curry and his teammates then did to the Cavaliers was a clinical annihilation of a Cavs’ team that would be hard pressed to beat any of the top-four teams in the Western Conference over a seven-game series in the Finals.

    Your thoughts on Kyrie Irving being possibly traded after apparently voicing his disapproval of things now happening in Cleveland ? We ought to remember , LBJ and the team’s head coach Tyronn Lue are said to be very close as coach and player, as well as personal friends .

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