Warriors, fans can say goodbye to Oracle Arena perfectly in NBA Finals

Warriors, fans can say goodbye to Oracle Arena perfectly in NBA Finals

OAKLAND – The last goodbye to Oracle Arena is upon the Warriors, and there is no doubt they and their crowd will do all they can to bring down the walls.

Whether the roar will be enough to deliver victory over the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night in Game 6 of the NBA Finals is another matter. It will be determined by the quality of the basketball, which in this instance is the co-star.

This night belongs to the building formerly known as the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena, then The Arena in Oakland, followed briefly by Oakland Arena and, lastly, Oracle Arena. This night is about 47 years of memories, of times good and bad, of fans that have entered the gates and those who greeted them with a smile and a kind word.

For even with hundreds of players and coaches shuttling in and out since 1971, some growing attached and others never taking -- or not having -- the time to get to know the people or the place, the fans kept coming.

They came to see Rick Barry’s fine all-around game, Larry Smith’s hard-hat work ethic, Purvis Short’s rainbow J. They came hoping Joe Barry Carroll would be a star, knowing Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin -- Run-TMC -- would provide entertainment and to give Don Nelson, in his first stint, standing ovations for coming out of the locker room.

They came to see Chris Webber, the big man of Nelson’s dreams, make the Warriors a playoff team year after year -- only to see Webber run out by Nelson, who then threw up his hands and walked.

Those were the toughest times, the years between 1994 and 2002, with only masochists venturing out to watch the Warriors lose two of every three games, or worse, as players argued, a coach was attacked, Todd Fuller was a lottery pick and inept owner Chris Cohan gloated after acquiring Jason Caffey.

Tickets? An empty milk carton could get you two. And yet, a few years later, when general manager Mullin traded for Baron Davis, Nelson came back and the Warriors ended their 12-year playoff drought, fans not only returned but also stalked a 42-win team as if its members were handing out bags of cash

The “We Believe team,” with a single playoff appearance on its resume, was a comet that turned up the heat inside Oracle as no Warriors club ever had. A nickname, “Roaracle,” was born and visiting coaches dreaded entering the place.

Oracle has been filled to at least 92 percent capacity ever since -- with 100-percent capacity in its final six seasons.

“Just the atmosphere out there, the energy, the noise, over the last five years with our team's rise, combined with that organic energy that this place has always had, it's just been an incredible experience to coach here,” coach Steve Kerr said.

It is under Kerr that the latest team -- behind the five-man core of Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and Klay Thompson -- has gilded Oracle, taking it from a place to go, to The Place To Be, to The Place To Be Seen.

“It's a special place,” Green said Wednesday. “I've been here now for seven years, a ton of great moments, a ton of great memories. It's always a bittersweet thing when talking about that.”

It’s bittersweet because the Warriors are moving to San Francisco in October, to play next season and many more in an incredible building built for basketball royalty. The recent teams deserve the best because they’ve been the very best version of the Warriors. And Chase Center will, in due time, develop its own personality.

It will have to. The personality of Oracle, and the place definitely has one, cannot be transplanted any more than the soul of Oakland can be transferred to San Francisco.

Oracle, no matter its name, was simultaneously cranky and warm, boisterous and welcoming. It was there to be felt as well as heard.

[RELATED: Dubs want to win for KD, but know task tall without him]

“I really believe it's going to kind of hit us before we get here,” Livingston said. “But once we're in the game, I think we'll be locked into what it's going to take to win here. I don't know if we'll be thinking about, man, it's our last game. I think those feelings, those emotions, will more so hit us before the game.

"And then God willing, we take care of business after.”

The people will not fail. And when the Warriors walk off this floor for the last time, no matter the outcome, there will be cheers and tears for this night and all the years before.

Watch Warriors' Klay Thompson use dog Rocco for curls during workout

Watch Warriors' Klay Thompson use dog Rocco for curls during workout

Normally, Rocco just watches Klay Thompson when he's working out. But on Tuesday, the pooch got in on the action.

In a video posted by the Warriors shooting guard, he did 12 curls where he use Rocco as the weight.

In early July, Thompson posted a video of Rocco providing moral support while he rehabbed his surgically repaired left ACL.

During the early days of Thompson's rehab, Rocco would be by his side as he went through rigorous exercises with a trainer.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Thompson missed the entire 2019-20 NBA season after tearing his left ACL against the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. He reportedly was medically cleared to start training without restrictions in June.

Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Monday that Thompson and Steph Curry worked out together at some point over the last few months.

[RELATED: Trainer says Steph "bouncy and energetic"]

I think we can safely assume Rocco also was there for the Splash Brothers' workout.

Andre Iguodala discusses different approaches between Warriors, Heat

Andre Iguodala discusses different approaches between Warriors, Heat

In terms of proximity, the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat are not close to each other.

And when it comes to certain components of how each franchise operates on a day-to-day basis, they are far apart as well.

“They take two different approaches," former Golden State forward Andre Iguodala recently told Mark Medina of USA Today Sports. "But they’re trying to get to the same place. Neither approach is wrong."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra come from different backgrounds, and don't share the same philosophies. There's nothing wrong with that whatsoever, as there is more than one way to build a culture that leads to success.

The 2015 NBA Finals MVP didn't shed too much light on how Golden State and Miami differ, but Medina provided some additional context.

"Iguodala has adapted to a completely different style than what he became accustomed to at Golden State," he writes. "He admittedly could pace himself during the season, while (Steph) Curry, (Kevin) Durant, (Klay) Thompson and (Draymond) Green handled most of the workload.

"The Warriors also had light practices because of their extensive trips to the Finals. In Miami, Iguodala has become exposed to harder practices and prolonged film sessions in hopes to accelerate the Heat’s development."

All of this makes perfect sense.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

But what does confuse some people at times is how to quantify Iguodala's impact, because he didn't consistently register big box-score numbers in a Dubs uniform and doesn't do that for the Heat either.

“You can’t put an analytic to his game with how many different ways he can impact your team in regards to winning,” Spoelstra told Medina. “You have to have him in your locker room and see him out on the floor to truly understand.

"Every coach in this league recognizes he is a winner because he does so many winning things.”

[RELATED: Why Bill Simmons believes Iguodala belongs in Hall of Fame]

These comments probably sound very familiar to Warriors fans, as we used this space over the years to highlight Iguodala's immense importance to the Warriors.

Yours truly can't wait to watch how the 36-year-old helps the Heat in the playoffs.

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