“This is the worst loss in the history of this building,” quipped Kenny “The Jet” Smith on the TNT post-game show after the Warriors’ Chase Center debut. Charles Barkley was more blunt about the fans: “These folks sleep in silk robes. They aren't gonna be like Oakland.”
It is always folly to draw any conclusions from an opening game, particularly in an NBA season that is 82 games long. But the Golden State Warriors’ long-anticipated move to the astonishingly fancy Chase Center came to fruition Thursday night in ominous fashion: the Warriors team that has so thoroughly dominated the sport these last five years has been reduced to an ineffective shell of its former roster, and the crowd was quickly hushed and chased for the Chase Center exits early in a demoralizing 141-122 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
It may be unfair to blame the fans — it’s hard to get excited when the team is already down 14-0 just four minutes into the game. It was at that point that the heart, soul, and mouth of the team Draymond Green banged his elbow and was forced back to the locker room (he would return). The horrid start did get a nice momentum shift late in the first quarter, as new guy D’Angelo Russel scored ten straight, and a Steph Curry floater brought the Warriors to within four points. But the absence of departed free agent Kevin Durant and torn ACL sufferer Klay Thompson has left these Warriors a pedestrian NBA squad that could not keep up with the Clippers.
Klay Thompson introduced to DEAFENING cheers at Chase Center pic.twitter.com/9FKlqdIL8h— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) October 25, 2019
The new San Francisco crowd had one notably loud moment for Thompson’s introduction, and the Carlos Santana national anthem was a high point. But Thompson would sulk on the bench in street clothes for the remainder of the contest, and the new breed of Warriors “fans” started leaving en masse while it was still the third quarter.
Four minutes left in the fourth quarter of the first ever regular-season NBA game at Chase Center 😳... pic.twitter.com/XI0VR8XvXT— Colin Ward-Henninger (@ColinCBSSports) October 25, 2019
“It was so quiet you could hear [Warriors owner] Joe Lacob whimpering,” joked Scott Ostler in today’s Chronicle.
“This is not Oracle,” Clippers forward Maurice Harkless said to Yahoo Sports. “At Oracle, it’s loud from the jump. Those fans brought it. It’s not the same here.”
Many of last night’s fans paid multiple thousands of dollars for a seat, and the insane economics of the Warriors’ new San Francisco identity has even the players themselves struggling to make ends meet.
A group of people are handing out “Free Hong Kong” shirts to fans heading in to Chase Center before the season opener pic.twitter.com/nzLCf4r84P— KNBR (@KNBR) October 25, 2019
The luster is likely gone from the Warriors’ recent golden years, but this might be a tough year to be an NBA fan anyway. The league is on the wrong side of the Hong Kong–China conflict, favoring their billions in Chinese broadcast rights and merchandise deals over human rights. But the predicted tameness and quietness of the Warriors’ new Chase Center fans was indeed in effect last night, just as the Oracle foresaw.
Image: @BlackKangoPhoto via Twitter