Matt Steinmetz (from Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, if you've never watched a Warriors game on TV) had an interesting comment about Warriors fans, one that ran the risk of offending some folks. He dared mention that while Warriors fans are often commended for their loyalty for coming close to selling out Oracle Arena every night despite the Warriors pulling off the nearly impossible feat of making the playoffs only once in 16 years, they sure seem to leave early too often for people to consider them true die-hards.
Does Steinmetz have a point? Are Warriors fans quick to bail when times get rough? At the end of games do they look more like stereotypical Dodgers fans than the loyal-to-a-fault fanbase they're purported to be throughout NBA circles? Like most things in life, the truth lies somewhere in between.
Warriors fans are what I'd call "hopefully realistic." They're still showing up, especially against the good teams. Nobody's at the point where they're turning down tickets when offered. Warriors fans enjoy going to games because if the Warriors don't perform well, they'll at least be treated to a spectacle and a good player or two on the other team to focus on. The paying customers expect the guys in blue and gold to win games against teams that are .500 or worse at home, and expect to compete with the league's elite for the first few quarters, at least. However, if neither of those things occur, fans won't hesitate to leave, sometimes early in the fourth quarter.
I think what struck Steinmetz was something that I've noticed: the speed at which the fans put their coats and call it an evening. Looking back at my Twitter timeline, I covered two contests where the Warriors weren't necessarily out of the game (Jan. 24 against the Spurs and Dec. 20 vs. the Rockets) and I was inspired to write that fans were "sprinting" toward the exits with the games still (somewhat) in doubt. In the case of the San Antonio game, the hype squad had to resort to shooting t-shirts in the stands to keep a good portion from heading toward the parking lots with four minutes remaining.
Granted, this whole "leaving early" thing is FAR more prevalent in the lower levels. And this phenomenon is hardly limited to the Warriors -- not many NBA teams' fans stick it out for the entire 48 minutes during home blowouts. However, I attended my first game at Staples on Saturday, between the Celtics and the Clippers, and I noticed that even in LA, the fans stuck it out longer than the Warriors fans did when the Celtics pulled away in the second half last week in Oakland.
Granted, I was sitting in the very top of the uppermost corner of the building, where the supposed "real" fans sit, and the Clippers stayed in the game almost to the very end while the Warriors were out of the game halfway through the fourth quarter, but I noticed more Celtics fans leaving early than Clippers fans, while when the Celtics (and Bill Simmons) came to Oracle that game ended with C's fans outnumbering Dubs fans by a 2-to-1 margin (at least).
What I'm recanting is anecdotal and the game was on a Saturday, whereas all the Warriors games I've covered this season have been on weeknights. Still, why do Warriors fans leave so early? It's not like it takes a long time to get out of the arena or parking lot, but people flee their seats like they're facing the kind of traffic Bay Area residents see on I-80 heading into San Francisco on weekday mornings, or perhaps the worst stretch of highway in the entire region: 580-E after work through Dublin/Pleasanton and Livermore (uggghhh, just thinking about that commute makes me cringe). Of course, since fans across the country have been wondering for years how Warriors attendance is so high, perhaps the fact that hundreds/thousands leave early half the time is a logical trade-off.
The only Bay squad going to the postseason anytime soon?...
- That would be the Sharks, unless St. Mary's or USF wins the WCC Tournament. Anyone who thinks St. Mary's is getting a sniff of the NCAA's without winning the tourney is delusional. The Gaels have an RPI of 49, and they don't play in the Big 10, Big East or SEC.
- The Sharks are absolutely crushing it right now (third in the Western Conference), and Antti Niemi is now looked at as an incredible acquisition. In other words, the NHL regular season (like the NBA's) is waaaayyyyy too long.
- Cam Newton's a self-described "icon," and when Ryan Mallett isn't ducking drug addiction rumors he's making Uncle Rico-like claims that he can throw a football over 80 yards. Besides "what is the Warriors' plan?", the one question I'd like an honest answer to above all others around here is which draft-eligible quarterbacks Jim Harbaugh actually likes.
- How important is the 49ers' decision on their future QB, whenever they actually make a choice? Harbaugh said some nice things about Alex Smith, and you'd think he told the fans the 49ers were going to wear these helmets.
- Spring Training is in full swing for the Giants and A's, and Brandon Belt's full swing has looked pretty good so far. However, people need to stop overreacting every time a starting pitcher has a crappy outing in late February/early March. Remember, Todd Wellemeyer looked like a skinnier Roger Clemens in Arizona a year ago.
- While Warriors fans leave early, Kings fans are freaking out over the Maloof brothers' purported plan to move the Sacramento Kings to Anaheim. The "Here We Stay" program started in full force on Monday night at
Arco Power Balance, and Marcus Thornton went ahead and got swept up in the moment and scored 29 points to lead a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in front of the first sellout crowd in Sacramento in quite some time.
- Hard to feel sorry for the Maloofs. They added onto their dirty Vegas hotel and (surprise) they're losing money. Don't believe they're douches? The Palms has an ED HARDY STORE. Oh, they've also hired a run of terrible head coaches since getting rid of Rick Adelman. Sacramento has shown the ability to support an NBA team without issue for over a decade; now the NBA is thinking about taking their only major pro franchise away. Sac could use about 3,000 more fans willing to shell out money for a mediocre/bad product right about now, regardless of whether those extra fans stay until the end of the game.