By Justin Bercovich
Do you hear that sound? It’s the playoff buzz generated by the Golden State Warriors. You might not recognize it, because the Warriors have not created a buzz since 1994, but they are back in the NBA playoffs for the first time since coach Don Nelson’s first stint with the team, which ended in 1995.
Golden State’s playoff berth, along with the excitement they have brought thus far in the series, has given Northern California basketball fans something to talk about.
Even on the UC Santa Cruz campus, a school known for its disinclination to support mainstream sports, people are talking about NBA basketball. In lecture halls, on buses, and in dining halls, if you say the name Baron Davis, a nearby eavesdropper will jump into the conversation.
But these are not fair-weather fans that are jumping on the Warriors bandwagon. With few exceptions, these are true fans that stayed hidden as they labored through losing season after losing season because of the embarrassment associated with rooting for a perennial loser.
Now times have changed and people are proud to be Warriors fans again, especially at UCSC. These are students who love to support good teams. The UCSC soccer and volleyball teams, who all enjoyed successful seasons, drew great support from the Slug faithful this year. And now the Warriors, who haven’t given their fans much to cheer about for over a decade, are receiving that support too.
People like to root for an underdog, and that is exactly what the Warriors are. Being matched up against the team with the NBA’s best regular season record is a daunting task, but the Warriors have surprised the nation by winning three of the first five games.
The Warriors have united all sports fans at UCSC. Even people that don’t care for the Warriors are still engaging in conversations about one of the NBA’s most surprising teams.
Whether they are from northern California, southern California, or out-of-state, anybody who keeps a casual eye on sports knows the story of the resurgent Warriors.
There is no other professional sports team in California that would be able to generate this much interest in Santa Cruz, a fairly neutral sports town.
That is because no other team in recent years has had such a long tradition of losing. The Los Angeles Lakers, for example, have rivals whose fans try to downplay their achievement, but you can’t have a rival if you don’t win games, so few people oppose the Warriors right now.
It may be a long time before a professional sports franchise creates this kind of buzz at UCSC again, so enjoy it while it lasts.