I read two kinds of accusations, via Twitter, email, WarriorsWorld forums. Either I’m making hay from Warriors negativity, or engaging in homeristic sugar coating. Well, I try to be honest in this space, so here’s an admission that probably applies to more writers than myself: It is very difficult not to root for a team while covering it.
Media has a reputation for wringing negative events for drama, and this is true. But I think fans notice this tendency and assume that it’s what sports media members root for in the first place. No, most people who cover a team amplify whatever elements they are given, be those negative or positive. In the case of the Warriors, there just hasn’t been a whole lot of positive fodder.
Two reasons compel me–and many Bay Area writers–to root for GSW success.
1. Question space
Have you ever watched a Warriors post-game presser? Have you noticed how there are far fewer questions in the wake of a loss than after a win? This is because there is far less “question space” in the aftermath of defeat.
Coaches and players are quiet after a loss. A humorless depression fog hangs over the exhausted, defeated parties. Those who give interviews are on guard. If losing is the topic, then who wants to utter a comment that may be used by media in the blame game?
In Friday night’s loss to Oklahoma City, Nate Robinson made Reggie Jackson crumble like a windblown Jenga set. Had GSW won, Nate likely would have held court on the matter, laughed about the kneebreaker with a multiple reporters, answered dozens of other queries. Since they did not win, a glum-looking Robinson rushed out of the locker room–hat brim bent over his eyes–in the time it took Reggie Jackson to fall over.
Even if he wasn’t broken up about the loss, it would have been bad politics to revel in the move on Jackson. Nobody wants to hear a player crow about an exploit that didn’t end in total victory. Well I do, but if athletes catered to my preferences, they’d often wind up in catering jobs.
2. Attention Scope
Hey, how about that local sports team? When it does well, you become all the more important for writing about it. Suddenly, you’re chronicling history, and not drawing unseen paintings in a dank Siberian Internet cave. A better sports team means more readers, more watchers, more media jobs. Pieces of my fate are tethered to future GSW success. God help me.
I get why some Warriors fans recoil at local media homerism, though. The Dubs have a history of laying it on thick in the thinnest of times. Overpraise mediocrity, and readers can view you as part of that which cheerily perpetuates a culture of losing.
A journalist I respect once told me that he never follows fan bloggers on Twitter, that he always maintains objectivity. While I respect this kind of moral code, I certainly cannot live by it, and the reasons above play into why.
So yes, I want the Warriors to win, and I’m tacking on another reason: I love basketball and I love the Bay. It is inspiring to see my favorite region get animated by the most beautiful sport in the world.
A great memory I took from the “We Believe run” happened off the court, away from the arena, away from a TV even. I recall stepping outside my apartment on a clear warm day, strolling down Shattuck Avenue as bicyclists wove around. They sported the yellow GSW jerseys, the sun beamed off that mesh.
Behind them, verdant hills crawled upwards for miles. I spotted more people in more unis. Call it bandwagon, but it was nice to see locals reconnect with an old friend. The love of pro basketball lies largely dormant here, always primed for an excuse to show out. The sanguine aura of that fairly mundane day stays with me. It felt like mutual happiness in a place that can make you constantly give thanks for life.
California gets a reputation for lackluster sports followings, which makes sense considering how West Coast cities are newer, with fewer established traditions. But the Bay is something of an Eastern region in the West. This place was built on the 1849 Gold Rush, it isn’t part of the post-1950’s Sun Belt. Transplants like myself come here, but we augment a base of locals who never leave and never want to.
Here, it is as provincial as it is cosmopolitan. Population is clustered into a misshapen circle around the water, making it easy to get anywhere provided you have bridge toll. The Bay knows itself in a way it could not were it stretched vertically like the nation of Chile. This is seven million neighbors, watching each other from across the water.
In my eyes, that unusual sense of regional oneness was ever heightened during a brief playoff run. It was special to witness and to be a part of. It is impossible to root against, no matter my objectivity pretentions. I only strive to be honest in these assessments, despite whatever outcome I prefer. Right now, the outcome I prefer is only exceeded in impossibility by any attempt I might make in not preferring it.