Forty-seven seasons of ups and downs culminated in one emotional event on Thursday. It was an NBA Finals that could not have been scripted better for the legendary venue as Oracle Arena, the Golden State Warriors’ home of nearly five decades, played host to the Dubs’ win-or-go-home Game 6.
Major injuries, emotionally-charged comebacks… the Warriors scratched and clawed to bring the 2019 NBA Finals back home for Game 6. And yet, through trials and tribulations, Dub Nation got to see one last game at Oracle Arena. And oh what a game it was, even if it had a less-than-ideal outcome for the home crowd.
Coming into Thursday night, the Warriors had lost Kevin Durant to a ruptured Achilles, Kevon Looney was playing through a right 1st costal cartilage non-displaced fracture, DeMarcus Cousins was still working his way into shape after a quad injury suffered during the first round of the Playoffs, Stephen Curry’s fingers on his non-shooting hand were still wrapped after being snapped back into place just weeks before, and other Dubs had their own aches and pains. The odds were stacked against the team, but you would not know that from the mood around the arena.
Regardless of the outcome, Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals was going to be a night of remembrance.
Before anyone even entered the legendary facility, fans were already feasting off of an energy that could only be found on the Oracle Arena site. Friends and families met outside as they prepared to enter Warriors Ground. A DJ played in the plaza as fans danced and rejoiced in preparation for the final game. Fans united to sign a piece of the 2015 Championship court, which will be on display at Chase Center, the team’s soon-to-be new home, in the fall. Fans were here to celebrate 47 seasons of basketball in Oakland the way Dub Nation knows best: together.
Though the loss of Durant weighed heavy on the minds of the fans, they received a reminder as they entered Oracle Arena that his absence would not be a loss, but a reason to rally together. Rally towels were handed-out to every fan, and limited edition tees were available on the premises with a simple message: the energy, effort, and emotion that charged the team and crowd was all #ForKD.
The Dubs took to the court wearing their slate “The Town” uniforms, and the hardwood at center court had the matching oak tree logo to celebrate Oakland. Tipoff had not even happened, and the building already echoed with a familiar chant.
There was no denying that the Bay Area was ready for Game 6.
The first Dub to score: Kevon Looney. The young center came running down the lane and raised both hands over his head, fracture and all, to throw the ball down for a slam dunk.
Keeping Oracle Arena energized — as well as keeping the Warriors in the game — was Klay Thompson who started hot with 12 points in the first quarter. That prompted a new, thundering chant from the crowd at Oracle Arena: “Game 6 Klay! Game 6 Klay!” It was his sheer willpower that kept the Dubs in the the game and down by just three points at the half: 60-57.
An occasion such as this needed a halftime performance fit for the Warriors’ finale at Oracle Arena, and who better to handle the task than Bay Area hip-hop legends, and longtime Warriors fans, E40, G-Eazy, Too $hort, and Mistah F.A.B. Hit after hit was spun as Oracle Arena heard the slaps that embody the Bay Area’s strong hip-hop tradition. The fans in the bowl, who stood throughout the game, continued to do so as they danced, sang along, and cheered. Though halftime, it was as if the party at Oracle Arena was just getting started.
The party came to an abrupt halt towards the end of the third quarter though.
On a fast-break layup attempt, Thompson went down with what was later identified as a torn left Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). Fans can only watch in heartbreak as the Splash Brother get helped into the Warriors tunnel.
Chants of “Let’s Go Warriors” rang out as the fans tried to bring themselves back into the game, but it did not carry the same weight as before. The energy was sucked out of Oracle Arena.
And then an eruption of cheers. Thompson emerged from the tunnel, willing himself back onto the court for his free throws. He made both of his shots, completing a perfect 10-for-10 performance from the free throw line before being subbed out of the game for good.
The Warriors took several timeouts in the final minutes to prepare themselves for what they knew was to come: a swarm of Raptors coming at Curry on every possession; three physical forwards in Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka, and Pascal Siakam working the boards; and a race to the finish.
And it was at another pause in the action, with 18.5 seconds left and Dubs down 111-110, that familiar roar came from the stands once again.
The Dubs were down, but not out.
The Raptors inbounded into the backcourt, trying to stall for time. The seconds ticked off the clock as the ball found its way to Danny Green, and he worked to escape the Dubs defense. To get the ball down court, he tossed deep into the right corner, but it took Siakam out of bounds. Turnover!
Now down to 9.6 seconds left and the Warriors have the ball. They inbound across the court to Draymond Green, who sets up a Curry 3-point attempt… but it’s off target, and the best chance the Warriors had to push this series to seven games is unsuccessful, and moments later the Raptors are celebrating their first NBA Championship in franchise history.
The stage was brought onto half court at Oracle Arena to crown the new champs, but one sound rang out one last time throughout the building.
Not the storybook ending Dub Nation had hoped for, but certainly not a disappointment. To come so close yet fall just short in front of the dedicated fans of Dub Nation was not the desired outcome, but the Warriors can still hold their heads high after fighting through more adversity during these NBA Playoffs than the five seasons prior. Game 6 was a fitting end to the Warriors’ chase for a NBA Championship three-peat that embodied the team’s spirit over the last 47 seasons: no matter the odds, the team fought until the end.
Take a bow, Oracle Arena. With smiles and tears, elation and despair, your final performance was a heartbreaking masterpiece.