It’s the end of an era in Oakland.
Sunday marks the Golden State Warriors’ final regular season game ever at Oracle Arena, a raucous building that’s been home to the two-time defending champs for 47 seasons.
Dubbed “The Finale,” the final regular season game at Oracle pits the Western Conference-leading Warriors (55-24) against the playoff-bound Los Angeles Clippers (47-33). Los Angeles won the first meeting between both teams this season, but Golden State responded in the second and third meeting, winning both. If the Warriors win or the Denver Nuggets lose Sunday, Golden State will lock up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference for the upcoming playoffs.
Sunday’s tip-off is slated for 5:30 p.m., with doors opening at 3:30 p.m. Fans will be treated to a plethora of festivities before, during and after the contest. Those in attendance will receive a special “The Finale” T-shirt and cheering cards, according to the team. They’ll also get a chance to see notable Warriors from the past, including Jason Richardson, Rick Barry and Chris Mullin. Right after the game, head coach Steve Kerr will share some words with the crowd during a special on-court ceremony.
Members of “Dub Nation” have certainly seen it all during the team’s run at Oracle Arena, which began on Nov. 29, 1966. During the early years at the arena, future Hall of Famers such as Barry and Nate Thurmond graced the hardwood.
Fast forward to the late 1980s and early 1990s when Mullin, Mitch Richmond and Tim Hardaway delighted fans with their run-and-gun style during the “Run TMC” days. More than a decade later, the “We Believe” Warriors — a hard-nosed squad led by head coach Don Nelson — propelled the franchise back into the postseason and pulled off one of the greatest upsets in playoff history, defeating the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2007 playoffs.
This decade’s Warriors have truly put the golden in Golden State. Two-time MVP Steph Curry changed the game with his limitless shooting ability from deep, including his customary tunnel shots before games. His fellow “Splash Brother,” Klay Thompson, once dropped 37 points in a quarter. Draymond Green stuffed stat sheets and fired up the Oracle crowd with his intense demeanor. After a title in 2015 and a 73-win season the next year, the Warriors dropped a chance to go back-to-back in the NBA Finals, but that chance was brought back to life when basketball superstar Kevin Durant signed with the team. The Warriors have since captured two titles in a row and will be seeking a third this season — perhaps capping a championship run in front of their home fans in Oakland.
“Once everything is done, you’re gonna look back on this building and see so many great players who walked through here, so many amazing moments,” Durant said Friday after the Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers. “And to win a championship on this floor is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I’m gonna tell my kids and their kids about [it]. I can go on and on about Oracle. I told people in my second year in the league this was my favorite arena. I’m just grateful I got an opportunity to play as a Warrior on this court.”
Despite the success stories over the years, Oracle was a house of horrors many times. Throughout the arena’s history, the Warriors suffered multiple losing seasons and lengthy playoff droughts. But despite the down years, a diverse crop of fans continued to fill the seats and transform Oracle into “Roaracle,” a building universally recognized as one of the loudest venues in the association.
The inevitability of leaving Oracle for the Chase Center in San Francisco next season is certainly “bittersweet” for Green.
“You’re excited to get into that new building and see what that’s all about, but its a lot of history in here,” Green told NBC Sports Bay Area Friday night after the Warriors grabbed a home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. “Oakland’s been great to us. Oakland is a part of us forever. Looking forward to that last one, but, at the same time, not looking forward to it.”
While Curry soaks in the many memories he’s etched into the soul of Oracle, he’s committed to making sure his time at the arena ends with a dub.
“For me, 10 years here, 47 years as an organization, it’s a lot of great things,” he said Friday. “For every fan that’s just come and watch us play here and had an experience, you know, cheering for us and celebrating the highs and lows, you know, there’s a lot of great memories. We want to finish off on a good note, and that’s all we’re really focused on.”
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