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Golden State Warriors Say Goodbye To Oakland Arena

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Last night the Golden State Warriors clinched the No. 1 seed in the NBA's Western Conference, and they officially said goodbye to an old friend.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED SPORTS COMMENTATOR: Damion Lee's got it - and the final regular-season seconds of 47 years in this incredible building.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

That incredible building is Oracle Arena in Oakland, the Warriors' home for nearly half a century. Warriors coach Steve Kerr spoke to fans before the game.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STEVE KERR: Warriors fans have stuck with us through thick and thin.

(APPLAUSE)

KERR: And let's be honest; most of those years have been a little thin.

CHANG: A little thin is kind of like saying the sun is a little warm. The Warriors were awful for a long time. They missed the playoffs for 12 straight seasons at one point and went 40 long years between championships.

SHAPIRO: But even during those long, lean years, attendance numbers were much better than a terrible team playing in a decrepit arena might expect.

CHANG: And when the Warriors were great - like, when they were winning three of the last four NBA titles - Oracle Arena turned into what fans called Roaracle (ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD ROARING)

SHAPIRO: Marcus Thompson is a sports columnist for The Athletic and an Oakland native. He says Oracle was more than just the place where the local NBA team played.

MARCUS THOMPSON: For me, growing up, Oracle was just always that place that symbolized something new was happening. Something fun was happening. Something lively was happening. And if you, like, worked hard enough and believed in yourself, you could be part of that. Like, it was just right there.

CHANG: He says he has not wrapped his head around the Warriors' impending move to San Francisco. It's the latest event in Oakland's fraught history with pro sports teams. The NFL's Raiders are leaving for a second time. And Oakland's Major League Baseball team remains in the Bay Area for now, but it's been trying to leave for decades. So why are Oakland fans so loyal to teams that are always looking for another place to play?

THOMPSON: Because it never was the teams. Nobody's there for that. You're there for the camaraderie. You're there for the family atmosphere. You're there because it's a symbol, you know, to be there. Oracle - I remember they were losing. They were terrible. But it felt like everybody who was doing something well with their lives was in Oracle.

SHAPIRO: The Warriors will play in the Chase Center, their waterfront arena in San Francisco, next season. And their historic success on the court might continue. But it's hard to imagine the Warriors' shiny new home could ever touch the magic of Roaracle Arena. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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