Use this as an open thread for tonight’s NBA Finals Game Six. The game tips off at 6 PM PT and will be shown on ABC.
Tonight we say goodbye to Oracle Arena. We may end up saying goodbye to the 2018-19 NBA season as well, depending on how tonight’s game between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors plays out. The Raptors hold a 3-2 series lead and can end it all. But even if the Warriors can hold on and force a Game 7, the series will return to Toronto and the lights will go down on Oracle.
Next season the Warriors will play in a shiny new arena across the Bay in San Francisco. Oracle, under various names, has been the permanent home of the Warriors since 1971. The building was renovated in 1997, but was originally opened in 1966. It’s the oldest arena in the NBA, and the ‘97 renovation is no longer sufficient. This is understandable. We in Sacramento know that arenas need to be replaced and upgraded. What’s unfortunate is how and where the new arena will be.
Moving the Warriors from Oakland to San Francisco is a minor thing on a map, but the two cities are vastly differently from one another, with both sides being proud of the ways they are unlike the other. The move to San Francisco will draw a different crowd, with a substantial portion of the Warriors faithful fan base being priced out. The days of Roaracle are leaving. It’s sad.
I enjoy the Northern California rivalry between the Warriors and Kings. The two teams have never been good at the same time, so rivalry may be a stretch, but the two teams are close enough to have fan bases that travel to each other’s games. And back when the Warriors were a joke, their fan base was still admirable. Much like the Kings, their attendance and passion wasn’t diminished by the quality or lack thereof of the team on the floor. I’m sure the Chase Center will be a technological marvel, but it won’t be the same as visiting Oracle. I’m sure the games will still sell out, but the crowd will be different.
Who knows how Oracle’s story ends. Can the Warriors put forth another herculean effort and push this series to a Game Seven? Or will the Raptors close Oracle with a Warriors loss? It will be an incredible story either way. One ending is bittersweet, the other simply bitter.
Changes loom for the Warriors. Even if Kevin Durant doesn’t leave, his ruptured Achilles will keep him out next season. The era of Warriors dominance is ending before our eyes. They can still be a good team, even a great team, but they won’t be the unstoppable force they’ve been these last few years. As the win totals begin to fall and the ticket prices rise, I can’t help but wonder if the Warriors will regret the move that will diminish their once-legendary home court advantage.