By: Jesse Taylor
My first NBA game at 12 years old was an upper-decker. November 13, 1986. My uncle was a huge Dr. J fan and got tickets to see his last game in Oakland as part of his farewell retirement tour. I tagged along with my two cousins for the memorable night.
This was back when each team made a big ordeal for NBA stars in their last seasons. At halftime, Dr. J sat at midcourt in a throne, looking more uncomfortable than Ned Stark on temporary King duty while Robert Baratheon drinks his way to the worst pig death since Lord of the Flies.
I’ll never forget Dr. J awkwardly receiving a crown and a scepter while Purvis, Mully, Sleepy and Terry led the Warriors to victory.
Later in life, like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas, I became a made man. An NBA made man. Not made with money, but I was lucky enough to become connected to the team and great seats became available to me. I can’t tell you how or I’d have to shoot your foot like Spider.
From the age of 22 until now, I’ve been fortunate to have been able to watch a Warriors game from just about every desired location. Courtside Center, Courtside Baseline, Luxury Suite, Mid Lower Level, Upper Lower Level, Corners, Behind The Basket.
Then last night happened.
A friend of mine bought two tickets for him and his girl a while back. Things didn’t work out, so he asked me if I wanted to go. Warriors? Thunder? I’m in. No questions asked. I meet him for pizza, we take his car to the game and he hands me the tickets.
Should I use my connection to make a call for better seats? Or is that too disrespectful? A slap in the face to my friend, who used his hard earned money to buy these tickets for him and his lady only to be told by an NBA snob that they aren’t good enough?
I keep my mouth shut.
We get to Oracle and make our way to the seats. On the main concourse, we pass shiny happy people walking down into the lower level. I feel like we’re Leonardo DiCaprio and Danny Nucci in Titanic, making our way to the slums of the boat. I hang my head as we take the walk to the upper level. My lungs shrink and breathing becomes more difficult – either from the steep steps or my nerves tightening from the unknown that lies above.
We get to our seats and everything changes. It’s like a party up here. Literally. We are surrounded by a group of 15 people celebrating a wedding engagement. I let my friend sit next to the drunk hot girl and we are immediately immersed into their conversation. My man is putting in work and things are going well for him.
Not only are they having a party, but everyone around us is happily yelling to each other and pumped for the game. Now I feel like Kate Winslet hanging with Leo, drinking Irish Whiskey and Riverdancing. Maybe slumming it in the basement of the boat is more fun than sitting courtside after all.
Then the game starts and I look down on the court. I feel like I’m floating in Oracle’s concrete ceiling looking directly down on the game. An interesting vantage point, but not all that desirable.
Then a big lumberjack of a man with a fire red beard and an under-shirtless Curry jersey steps up and says someone is in his seat. It’s the hot girl next to my friend. She hops over her seat to the row behind us and the lumberjack squeezes in. There’s a none-to-pleasant smell emanating from the area underneath his tribal art bicep tattoo.
All of a sudden the fun party atmosphere vibe changes.
On top of that, I’ve told WarriorsWorld’s Jordan Ramirez that I’d stop by his Section 121 seats at halftime to say what’s up. Now I start to worry that the guards may not even let me pass. I’ve snuck out of the castle to party in the urine-infested streets of Kings Landing, and now I may not be able to get back through the gates.
Jordan and Josh Denton (aka @dubbadown) meet me in the concourse, so I’m good. We talk for a while, then they walk back through the gates into the castle. I head back to the slums of Kings Landing, watching for the buckets of urine being poured from above as I climb the stairs
The Thunder pull away and begin their blow-out. But as I continue to watch, the distance between my eyes and the court seems to shrink. I begin to appreciate the overhead view and see plays develop differently than if I was looking straight on. The girls, now behind us, continue to loop us into their conversations and help reduce the pain of a Warriors stink bomb.
We begin to have fun again with the crowd as they outman a boisterous Thunder fan and shut him up.
And even when he’s doing it against your team, watching Kevin Durant is always a thing of beauty.
Would I recommend sitting in the upper level just for the experience? Yes, but lower level is always the number one option if you have the choice.
But if you don’t have the choice, like non-made 12-year-old me watching a crowned Dr. J, it’s still worth it to step away from the big screen HDTV and watch the Warriors from the upper level. Being at the arena is a vibe you can’t get anywhere else.
It doesn’t matter where you sit. Warriors fans are still the greatest in the NBA.