Warriors

Warriors bond as team, win overseas in 'impactful' Japan trip

Warriors

SAITAMA, Japan -- The distance to fly between San Francisco and Tokyo is 5,124 miles, but NBA fans in Japan treated the Warriors like their backyard favorites this week as the team traveled overseas for two preseason games with the Washington Wizards.
 
NBA research indicates more than 1.6 million basketball fans in Japan follow the league via global and local social media accounts. The fans digest everything they can about these guys and turn it into kind moments, like the time an autograph-seeker at the airport gave Jordan Poole a cat figurine as a welcome gift.

 It was also impressive to see fans shouting for Shaun Livingston and Zaza Pachulia at the airport. Fans knew their stuff.
 
The star of the show was Steph Curry, the guy on a first-name basis around the world.

Curry owned the crowd at games and events around the city. An NBA seminar on manners in Japan explained it is not a touching culture, but a boy at the Warriors' court refurbishment could not resist giving Steph a double-hug when he signed his ball.

The experience inside Saitama Super Arena was unique compared to American boisterousness. It was pin-drop quiet when there was action on the floor, then perfect, synchronized clapping dialed up during game breaks. "The Addams Family" theme song was a crowd favorite.

The Warriors' starters played only first-half minutes in the two games, so the youngsters got a chance to shine. 
 
In the first game on Friday, James Wiseman dominated with five dunks -- part of a 20-point night as the game's top scorer in Golden State's 96-87 win.

 

The second game on Saturday -- Sunday in Japan -- saw rookie Patrick Baldwin Jr. show out from 3-point land, going 4-for-5 for 12 points, plus six rebounds, a block, and a steal as the Warriors won 104-95.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr called the trip "important and impactful" for his team.
 
"Everyone on our team had a wonderful time," Kerr said. "The guys had a great time together ... really interacting with the fans, some great meals, experiencing a beautiful culture."

RELATED: Kerr elated Dubs experiencing Japan fully as country reopens

The Warriors didn't need to be an ocean away from home to bond, but enjoying unfamiliar waters together was a fun way to kick off the season.

And returning home with a pair of wins doesn't hurt, either.

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