Well, it’s been a while.
Writing here again is sort of like coming back home after college. My room is a little different – looks like Sheed converted it into a hybrid gym/game room/bar. I was told I can use the gym equipment as much as I want, but I’ll have to pay for any games I play. Is Time Crisis really worth $3 a play?
The last time I was here, the Warriors were a team on the rise. Stephen Curry was on the precipice of becoming a bona fide star, Klay Thompson was developing into one of the most complete two-guards in the league and Mark Jackson was busy dreaming up the next isolation playcall.
Fast-forward to 2015 and Golden State is riding high as the best team in the NBA with a new coach, new offensive mentality and a swagger (do people still say that?) that rivals Nick Young’s and Don Draper’s combined.
They entered the playoffs in a very unfamiliar role: the favorites. So, it was only fitting that my fiancée called me and asked if I wanted to be placed in an unfamiliar role: cheering for the Warriors at an opposing team’s arena in a playoff game.
I thought she was kidding at first. You know how people always make these last-minute hypothetical over-the-top plans that never come to fruition?
All of a sudden, I blinked and there was the confirmation e-mail with our flights purchased to New Orleans – just in time for Game 4 of round one vs. the Pelicans.
Naturally, with this being one of the most spontaneous trips in my life, I had to keep a running diary. Here we go.
Saturday, April 25, 2015
4:37am PT – Alarm goes off. Why is it so early? Where are my glasses? Am I dreaming? Are we really going to New Orleans for this game? No. No way. I’m going back to sleep.
4:38am – Fiancée yells flurry of expletives to wake me up. Yup, we’re really going.
5:00am – Fully showered, dressed and decked out in Warriors gear. Blue and yellow really brings out the sparkle in my eyes. Or my eyes haven’t fully adjusted to being awake.
5:35am – Arrive at Oakland airport. Fiancée feels the need to take a picture in her Warriors gear next to a display at a store full of Warriors shirts. I don’t understand the rationale, but it’s before 6am and I’m not a fully functional human being yet so I take the picture.
6:35am – Boarded plane. First stopover is in Goran Dragic’s favorite place – Phoenix.
8:52am – After a questionable breakfast burrito purchase, we board our connecting flight to New Orleans. A guy in a Pelicans warmup shirt passes us. He wants to say something but is clearly still too damaged as a person after Game 3.
2:30pm CT – Landed safely in New Orleans. It’s raining. Not threes, just actual raindrops. Starting a “Dirty Look” tracker once I get off the plane.
2:32pm – Walking towards rental car area. “Dirty Look” count already at 4.
3:40pm – Arrive at Lüke’s for lunch. We are seated quickly and we see Adam Silver two tables away from us. I don’t care what he says – he has the best bald head in the NBA.
3:45pm – Our waiter greets us. As he’s explaining the specials of the day, I can tell he notices our Warriors attire. I make a note to check our food for any spit/poison.
4:07pm – Dude in a Steph jersey walks into the restaurant. He sees us and raises a fist as a greeting. We reciprocate. “Dirty Look” count ups to 10.
4:10pm – Guy in Steph jersey is seated next to us. Only fitting I guess. Food arrives – no spit or poison. I’d make a Game of Thrones joke here, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone currently binge-watching it.
4:12pm – Two more Warriors fans walk in and are immediately seated next to guy in the Steph jersey. Quite convinced this restaurant is quarantining all the Warriors fans into one area so it’s easier to tar and feather us.
5:00pm – Arrive at another restaurant, Borgne, for happy hour/more food (Lüke’s was INCREDIBLE by the way). Since it’s really close to the arena, there’s a sea of Pelicans fans enjoying dinner/drinks before walking over to Smoothie King Center. “Dirty Look” count just skyrocketed to 32545839.
6:30pm – Arrive at Smoothie King Center. An employee is handing everyone Pelicans rally towels. He sees me, chuckles a little and says “I guess” while handing me a towel.
6:44pm – Walking the concourse to our seats and a Pelicans fan says to my fiancée, “I’d boo you, but you’re a girl and that’s rude.” Nice guy.
6:55pm – Almost tip-off. Surrounded by Pelicans fans. I can feel the hatred for me oozing out of each and every one of them. Now I know how John Cena feels.
6:58pm – A Warriors fan arrives at his seat just feet away from us. He brought a broom. Also, he’s pretty intoxicated. This is an amazing combination.
7:30pm – A Smoothie King usher arrives to confiscate the Warriors fan’s broom. The crowd around us cheers and boos broom guy. Broom guy embraces the boos, closing his eyes and raising his arms. Or he’s drunkenly fallen asleep. I can’t tell.
7:47pm – Little kid sitting in front of me gives me the death glare of all death glares. Or maybe I’m just the first Filipino person he’s ever seen.
8:05pm – Every time the Warriors drain a three, I stand up holding up three fingers like that iPhone emoji. Pelicans fan behind me tells me to “sit down.” Little kid in front of me continues death glare. Starting to believe he’s possessed or he’s a doll that has come to life and will kill me the minute I turn my head.
8:25pm – Anthony Davis is a monster. I know that’s not Earth-shattering news but he is literally doing anything he wants right now – getting to the rim, draining mid-range jumpers, draining more mid-range jumpers. I think he’s even sold some beer to some people sitting courtside.
8:49pm – Warriors up big. Pelicans fan sitting behind me yells, “You guys could’ve texted me if you weren’t gonna show up tonight!”
9:30pm – Pelicans fans in my section refer to Steph as “Princess Curry” and insist he gets all the foul calls. They’ve clearly watched the Warriors all season.
9:45pm – Warriors win the game 109-98 and wrap up the series. As some Pelicans fans exit and we make our way down closer to the court to celebrate with the other Warriors fans, they say to me “It doesn’t matter – they’re going to lose to Memphis in the next round.” Oooooo. You got me.
10:00pm – Fiancée says to me as we’re walking back to the car, “Let’s please not get into a fight. You probably won’t win.” Nothing like the loving support of my future wife.
10:05pm – 1:30am – We explore Bourbon Street, eat beignets at Café Du Monde, draw more dirty looks and heckles from drunken Pelicans fans and head back to the airport.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
2:00am – Flight isn’t until 7:30am so I pass out on one of the many couches supplied by Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
5:00am – I groggily wake up and another gentleman has set up camp a little too close to me. He sees my Warriors shirt and hat and says, “Man, what a game” before cuddling up with his backpack and drifting off.
I spent a total of 15 hours in New Orleans before making the trek back to the Bay Area.
As the plane took off on the journey home, the memory of the taste of the shrimp and grits from Lüke’s popped into my head. I wiped the drool off my face. Then the image at the end of Game 4 of the throng of Warriors fans at Smoothie King Center chanting “MVP!” while Curry walked back to the locker room popped into my head.
As amazing as those shrimp and grits were, the memory of that MVP chant echoing throughout the arena is what will stick with me most. Well, that and the broom guy.
What a memorable trip. What a memorable season. I’m not ready for it to end.