Op-Ed: Golden State Warriors Should Have Shown Oakland More Respect

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Golden State Warriors fans can claim bragging rights as supporting the “best team in the United States” for another year, after the squad’s takedown of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 2017 National Basketball Association title. But San Franciscans who support the team’s move to the City should consider what it’ll do to their neighbor, Oakland, and San Francisco’s own image before breaking out into full brag mode.

When the owners of the Warriors purchased the team in 2010 they had big plans. NBA titles and a new arena were mentioned repeatedly. Seven years later, the Warriors have two NBA championships and are six months into construction of an 18,000-seat arena in San Francisco’s newest neighborhood, Mission Bay.

To see these visionary owners accomplish so much in such a short time period is amazing. However, it appears they’ve developed cataracts, which have clouded their vision and good judgement. Partnering with San Francisco’s elected officials to steal one of Oakland’s jewels is a reprehensible act that no self-respecting San Franciscan would co-sign. The result of this theft is, San Francisco, a world class city, now looks like a world classless thief.  A world class city helps its neighbors; it doesn’t help itself to its neighbor’s jewels.

San Francisco City Hall, along with the Warriors, would have San Franciscans believe that the move from Oakland is supported by most San Franciscans. But as a City resident since 1960, and a Golden State Warriors fan since 1975, I have serious doubts. I, along with many others, are ashamed of theft by association with self-serving billionaires. In addition, the wisdom of building an 18,000-seat arena across the street from a Children’s Hospital at University of California, San Francisco is beyond shortsighted; it’s a tragedy waiting to happen due to game day traffic. 

Then there’s the weak justification for the move, an insult to longtime residents and a lie: “The team was here first and we are bringing them back home.” The Warriors were never located in San Francisco. They originated in Philadelphia. When they came west, they became the San Francisco Warriors, but their home games were played at the Cow Palace, located in Daly City.

For my favorite city, San Francisco, to treat my second favorite city, Oakland, in a covetous manner, by stealing the NBA’s best team, and trying to lie to cover up the theft, reminds me of an incident that occurred when I was 13-years-old.  Walter, a classmate, came to school with a new watch he received as a gift. He showed it to me, and I coveted it to the point of intentionally grabbing for and slipping it off his wrist while we were playing. I took the watch home and told my father a friend at school gave it to me.

Of course, my father saw my lying lips move up and down with much skepticism, but he didn’t know what to do. When I returned to school the next day wearing the watch as if I got away with this theft, Walter told the teacher. The teacher also saw my lying lips move up and down as I claimed, “My father gave me the watch.” She then called my father.

In 2012, Mayor Ed Lee told an audience at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club, “…I’m not going to ever apologize for grabbing somebody else’s team…” Do thieves ever apologize? Perhaps when others point out the theft, and the thief realizes he’s caught red-handed. But being caught in the act, which is also un-San Franciscan, reflects negatively on all of us who wouldn’t even think of stealing the newspaper off the neighbor’s lawn.

Allen Jones is a South-of-Market resident.