So I’ve become a rabid Warriors fan in the last few years. I’m sure that there are mobs of others who have gotten interested in this team — not just in the Bay Area — but worldwide, because of their prowess and spectacular play. It seems to me that this year is special and we may never again see the skill and verve these guys have shown. Stephen Curry is like a magician on the court, and he makes it look like so much fun and so joyous.
Well, I get this call from Cole, my son-in-law. He asks, how would I like to go to one of the finals games? I say “yes, yes, yes.” He’s treating me because my daughter doesn’t have much interest in sports and he knows that I’ve become just gaga over the Warriors. And so I went to the first of the semi-final playoff games on May 16. I figure that I may not go to any other game and I should see the real deal when given the chance.
How was it? I guess I don’t pay much attention to the background when I’m watching on TV, though it does seem loud and colorful. Well, loud and colorful it was, and even more so. We were given little “LED” bracelets, whatever that means, and they kept lighting up. I got a lanyard with my picture and Klay Thompson, my favorite player, and an extra large T shirt with the “strength in numbers” phrase, which I can use as a nightshirt.
I don’t know all the chants and the usual stuff that goes on. Early on, the fans were yelling something very loud, so loud that I couldn’t understand what they were saying. So, I ask Cole, “What the hell are they saying?” He says, “Defense, defense.” Oh. When the Thunders have the ball, that is what we’re supposed to yell. Seems unnecessary to me, since of course the players know what they are supposed to do. But I guess when you become part of a large group like Dub Nation, rituals and special activities become part of the situation, so of course, that’s what you do. Everybody gets physical, like yelling and jumping up and down and just having a great time making noise.
When the people in front stand up, I have to stand up just to see the game, so we’re standing a lot of the time. I also see that the players are saying things all through the game at their fellow team members and at their foes. I wonder, what are they saying? Do they insult and goad each other? Probably.
I know that these players are tall, but gee, 7 feet is amazingly tall, and these guys’ athleticism and speed is wondrous. They’re like gladiators and it looks like they clash as hard as football players. It is amazing watching them doing their jobs. Yet, it is a big thrill to watch these superb athletes compete so hard for a championship. They must have some terrible aches and pains after each game. It’s too bad the Warriors lost, but then they are human and have to lose sometimes.
And I think about the lives of these superbly talented individuals, and the life of a professional athlete. Some of them are really young, in their early 20s, and yet they have to grow up fast if they want to play at this level. They have to lead totally disciplined lives to keep themselves in top shape, they have to deal with the public in a grown up way to keep out of trouble and to keep their emotions under control at all times. Furthermore, they have to deal with the complexities that they encounter while being constantly watched and evaluated.
And I am impressed with the fact that 80 percent of NBA players are black, at least by the American definition of black. But such are the arbitrary definitions by American culture and society that most of these basketball players are classified black. And then there’s the schizoid situation that these black athletes are the darlings of our nation, loved and admired by almost everybody along with African Americans in entertainment, but when it comes to the black man on the street we fear and don’t trust them. This is so perverse and unfair. If we can love the black athlete, why can’t we at least respect every black person that we encounter on the street and elsewhere? Racism is truly the sickness and one of the major problems in our society as well as the world.
But I had a lot of fun at the game, and Go Warriors! Love you all!
Chizu Omori, of Oakland, is co-producer of the award-winning film “Rabbit in the Moon.” She can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.