Warriors-Thunder at Oracle: Go to That.

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The following was written March 4th. There’s a bummer of a cameo below. Otherwise, enjoy.

I went to Warriors-Thunder in Oakland last night and damn the Oracle is cool. I’ve seen the Dubs at Oracle a few other times, but last night was just bonkers. Close game the whole way, great showing by the Golden State bench, and just a deafening atmosphere in the arena. Picture a normal Nets game at Barclays Center, then picture the opposite. That’s what Warriors-Thunder was.

Arrival

oracle arena parking lot

I don’t drive ever because I live in Manhattan so I had never used the Waze app before. Turns out it just directs you through the nearest bad neighborhood, but at least gives you the benefit of creating a zig-zag pattern to dodge people selling stolen microwaves. On the plus side, I saw some sweet rims on old Cadillacs with pastel paint jobs, so it wasn’t all bad. Once we finally got out of the Bay Area version of The Wire, we pulled into the far end of the parking lot Oracle shares with O.Co Coliseum, home of the A’s and Raiders. That place is somehow even dumpier than it looks in Moneyball, but that’s neither here nor there. We walked up to the arena, which looks like a spaceship from a 1950’s sci-fi movie, scanned our tickets and walked right in. Security was pretty easy and we got there nice and early to see Steph Curry warm up. It was the right call, that dude is a freak.

Seats

oracle arena section 201 row 1

Our seats were in section 201, row 1. The first row of the balcony is almost always the best value in an NBA arena, and Oracle’s no different. There’s a ton of leg room, the view is great, and there’s enough space that even the fattest dude can walk past you and you don’t have to stand up. The only drawback was the ushers won’t let you leave your beer on the ledge (there’s a railing but no glass to stop you from spilling on the rich folk below). There aren’t cupholders, but the legroom is more than worth the tradeoff. These seats were awesome.

Production Values

The Warriors don’t seem to take themselves too seriously. The Nets and Knicks both suck this year, but the player intros at each arena are so over the top they make you think you’re about to watch the ’96 Bulls in the NBA Finals when you’re really about to sit through two and a half hours of Wayne Ellington missing 19-foot jumpers. Here’s what the Warriors intros look like:

That’ll work. Also some guy airballed a halfcourt shot to win a Kia Optima during a TV timeout and got the hell booed out of him. Nothing like a good booing.

Game

My god was it ever lit. The score was close pretty much the whole way despite Russell Westbrook playing like garbage. Mo Speights tore the roof off the place with a three in the second because he’s the best human mascot this side of Boban Marjanovic. Steph and Klay did their thing, hit a bunch of threes and basically burned the arena down. Durant did his thing right back and put up 32 on 17 shots. With six minutes left in the fourth and the Warriors up 2, I looked down at the floor and actually thought “I can’t believe they sell tickets to this.” The Dubs did what they always do and somehow won by 15 despite being down 9 in the third quarter, because nobody puts teams away like the Golden State Warriors. This was like watching the Greatest Show on Turf mixed with the ’92 Dream Team, and the Thunder are a fireworks show in their own right. It was simply awesome.

Atmosphere

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The Oracle is 50 years old and it looks like it. The concourses are clean and bright, but they’re about as wide as a high school hallway and are packed shoulder-to-shoulder. The bathrooms are soaked in urine, and beers are thirteen damn dollars. Even with all that, Oracle is just a fantastic place to watch basketball. Despite the widespread gentrification driving normal people farther and farther from San Francisco, the fans don’t have that disinterested Yankee Stadium feel to them. Everybody’s loud, everybody stands up, and everybody appreciates the magical unicorn of a team they have. The place goes nuts every time Steph brings the ball past half court, and he brings down the whole house with every 3 (he had 5 last night). The people come for the show and get all the way into it. I was sitting two seats over from some purple-hair chick who was telling her boyfriend about Klay Thompson’s Washington State career. People know their stuff and they get nice and drunk. Great vibe in there.

Other Fun Things

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Every seat had a free towel on it, even the upper level seats that don’t show up on TV. It’s towel 3 of 5 in the Warriors Splash Towel Series. I better get the other 4 or else I’m a fair-weather loser and will bring shame to my family.

Oh and freaking Prince was there! (Update: RIP bro) At any other game, dude would have been the whole show. He sat courtside with a giant cane and brooded his way through the first half, then disappeared at halftime and never returned. Prince has no time for your silly games.

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Departure

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It was a close game until the last couple minutes, so everyone bailed at once. The arena isn’t really built for everyone to leave at the same time and was totally packed, but there was a happy enough vibe in there that nobody seemed too upset. We eventually got out the door and everyone got a free Prince CD, which is cool because you can never have enough coasters (Update 2: I am sorry for disrespecting Prince). The Oracle, man, the gift that keeps on giving. Put the Oracle on your bucket list and see this version of the Warriors there. It costs like a billionty dollars but it’s completely worth it. Get your ass to Oakland, just don’t use Waze to get there.