It’s common sense to avoid counting your chickens before they hatch, yet here I am, one day before Game 6 clutching onto a handful of eggs.
You’ve heard the narrative before, especially if you’ve lived in the Bay Area for the last few years. Every Bay Area native is a long-suffering Warriors fan who fuels themselves on blind loyalty and knowing more about basketball than your usual NBA front-runner. We know what a pick-and-roll defense is supposed to look like, because for the best part of the last two decades, we’ve seen how badly it can be executed.
“ROTATE, YOU FUCKS.”
It’s become a sort of badge of honor to remember the bad old days. Fanhood is only affirmed by continued loyalty through the rough patches, so it’s become a sort of a name game with fellow long-suffering drunkards at the bar, watching the same transcendent Warriors as I am.
I love playing the name game too. We’ve had some amazing names attached to mediocre basketball players, so tallying Vonteego Cummings and Adonal Foyle from my painfully funny memories is almost an exercise in poetry.
Bimbo has the ball. He raises up with two hands. Bimbo airballs. Shit.
At first, invoking Bimbo Coles was like showing your official ID of Warriors fandom, someone to separate you from the bandwagon fan who was rooting for the Heat just a year prior. But of course, if you drunkenly bellow esoteric names for too long, people won’t think of you as a part of a loyal vanguard that’s desperate to maintain the integrity of the Warriors spirit. They’ll just think of you as an overbearing and pretentious asshole, like the guy who wrote that last sentence.
“THE FUCK YOU KNOW ABOUT THE WARRIORS?! THE FUCK YOU KNOW ABOUT CHRIS GATLING BRUH?!”
You’ll have to excuse the way most Warriors fans will sell this though. We are used to seeing the Warriors in a humorous light than an awestruck one. Nobody knows what to make of this newfound juggernaut. It’s like we’re living out every nerd’s fantasy, where we get beat on for 10 years, go through puberty, hit the gym, and get fucking jacked. Now who’s giving out the noogies, you pricks?
But that opens up a narrative of “deserve” that I’m beginning to find problematic.
I’m not going to argue that Warriors fans deserve this more than Cavaliers fans. This isn’t a twice-told tale of the historical David going up against the established Goliath. Both teams have suffered long-running droughts of championship joy. There’s no reason to favor one or the other in terms of “deserve” or “dues paid.” If you want to discuss the depth of misery between the two fanbases, have at it with someone else. I’d rather not familiarize myself with the taste of a historical pissing contest. And in any case, “deserve” has nothing to do with the outcome of this series. Suffering and patience aren’t accepted tender for championship rings.
“OF COURSE WE FUCKING DESERVE THIS. YOU KNOW HOW LONG I HAD TO WATCH DEREK FISHER TRY TO BE A FRANCHISE PLAYER? YOU KNOW HOW LONG I HAD TO SUFF-”
This is no reparation for Bimbo Coles. I see this upcoming Game 6 as the penthouse in the casino of sports. This is the high-stakes table of Finals elimination games, where all who enter have to put down the chunks of themselves as the minimum.
In the past, when the stakes weren’t so high, every loss felt normal after awhile. Yeah, some were more painful than others, but losing at that cadence resembled normal manly wear-and-tear, the stuff that character and stoicism is made of. To me, losing was so far from the soul-wrenching rip that most athletes and sportswriters describe losing to be.
But as both the Warriors and Cavaliers have climbed to the pinnacle of the league, it’s occurred to me that my well-practiced rationalizations just don’t apply here. The gravity of the situation is so much heavier than it ever was. This is uncharted territory. This is outside my comfort zone. This is like looking down the cliff and seeing nothing but blackness.
Of course this is all overly dramatic. It’s just a game. It’s just sports.
I just don’t want to us to fall. Not here. Not this high up.