Golden State’s Silver Lining

Sports have been woven into the fabric of my life for as long as I can remember. I was born into a time of sporting prosperity in the San Francisco Bay Area: the late ’80s. The 49er dynasty was in full bloom. The A’s and Giants would meet in a World Series that was memorable for on and off the field reasons. And the Warriors would soon enter into the days of Run TMC (we’re just going to skip the Raiders).

However, by the time I got old enough to have some worldly perspective those days would reach an end. The Giants would not really recover from winning 103 games and still missing the playoffs. The Niners would win the Super Bowl again in ’94, but by the year 2000 would turn back into also-rans. But for me, the biggest disappointment would be Golden State.

Chris Webber, who for some reason had a one-year out clause in his contract, would lead the team to 50 wins then turn around and force a trade to Washington after his rookie season, kicking off a streak of 12 straight losing campaigns. Between the years 1994 and 2006, the franchise had an overall winning percentage of .348. Along the way, our only All-Star for almost two decades felt the need to choke the coach (twice), and the draft bounty that ensued from such ineptitude would yield such luminaries as Joe Smith, Ike Diogu, and Patrick O’Bryant. If you don’t recognize those names don’t be alarmed – you’re in good company. Aside from upsetting Dallas in 2006-07, the highlight of my Warriors fanhood until recently was being at Oracle for Jeremy Lin’s first preseason game, where an older African-American gentleman repeatedly yelled “PASS IT TO THE ASIAN GUY” whenever he entered.

Rooting for a bad team for such a long time (during formative years no less) did have its own silver lining: I am an expert at coping. There is a method to the madness of following a team that is perpetually without hope. Since I call Los Angeles home these days, I feel it is my duty to share this wisdom with my purple and gold neighbors who are in a rough patch of their own:

  1. Latch onto someone young at the end of the bench. If you can’t put your hope in the team, pick a guy who doesn’t play all that much but MIGHT end up being good in the future. The less he plays, the better – if he gets no run, who knows how good he really is? Maybe he just needs a shot! And if it doesn’t work out (likely), don’t worry; bad teams turn over their rosters so frequently that each new year brings a new hope.
  2. Celebrate the small victories in a big way. Don’t be like Kobe who threw epic shade at Jeremy Lin and Co. for celebrating an overtime win against the Celtics earlier this week like the world was ending. Every bad team is usually good for at least a few quality wins and they should be appreciated with much gusto. Just last year, a 76ers team that was projected to be historically bad somehow beat the defending champs on opening night and won their first three games. Of course they would go on to lose 26 straight later that season but you can’t take that start away. They’ll always have 3-0.
  3. League Pass is your friend. The first season I bought NBA League Pass turned out to be an instance of dumb luck. It was the 2011-12 season, which just so happened to be the year of Linsanity. The Warriors won 23 games during that strike abbreviated season, but I don’t remember that. Instead I remember Jeremy hanging 38 on the Lakers, then rising up over Jose Calderon to rail in a game winning three against Toronto the next game.
  4. Embrace delusion. I had a conversation with a friend where I effusively praised the Warriors for their ability to find D-League talent. It did not occur to me until much later that if you are mining the D-League for guys to play major minutes, that’s a sad referendum on the rest of the roster.
  5. At least you’re not from Cleveland. Remember, it can always be worse.

I am excited and honored to be working with Dat Winning. Sports writing has always been a pipe dream of mine, and having the chance to cover sports alongside Asian American issues presents a unique opportunity.

We are reaching what feels like a breakthrough moment for Asian American culture. A show featuring an Asian American family on a major television network has appeared for the first time in two decades. Jeremy Lin is still playing ball and other Asian American athletes are appearing on the horizon with more frequency. Two NBA teams (the Rockets and Warriors) wore special uniforms for Chinese New Year, which led to James Harden disemboweling Ricky Rubio with Chinese characters splashed across his chest. I am just grateful that I was offered a small part in this conversation.


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BRIAN WONG | @bigbwong

Brian Wong is a third-generation Chinese American and Bay Area native. NBA fan, Golden State Warriors fanatic.