Why that $1,500 ticket to the Warriors game tonight is worth it
Rick Barry left the restaurant Sunday night before seeing the menu.
“They didn’t have the cable station that shows the Warriors,” the basketball hall-of-famer said.
Barry is hardly alone in his appetite for basketball’s must-see TV, an entertainment troupe guided by a whirling dervish of a let-it-fly guard who has obliterated the notion of his sport as best played inside-out. A game that once belonged to 7-footers is now defined by 25-footers. Or 28. Or 30. It’s called in-the-gym range, and these Warriors have it.
Young and old, fans are flocking. Curry has the NBA’s best-selling jersey, while Warriors merchandise is No. 1, too.
“One of the most fun teams to ever play the game,” Barry says of the Warriors, taking aim at not only 73 wins but back-to-back championships.
Heresy? Hardly. The Warriors are winning converts of fans fed up with mediocrity and lip service. And that’s OK. Really. Go ahead, pledge your allegiance. I did.
There’s nothing conventional about the Warriors, who tonight, at home in the raucous confines of Oracle Arena, take aim at history against the Grizzlies. Barry bolted because on Sunday Golden State defeated the Spurs in San Antonio, handing the NBA’s model of consistency its first home-court loss of the season and pushing their own win total to 72. It’s a hallowed number in the NBA, a win total only reached by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, a team led by Michael Jordan. No wonder tickets for tonight’s game start at $320 on StubHub, and average around $1,500.
“Steph falls into a rare category. He’s worth the price of admission,” Barry says.
In a span of five minutes on the telephone Barry, who spent nine seasons with the Warriors in the 60s and 70s, referenced Jordan and the “Showtime” Lakers of Magic and Kareem. The Warriors are not only winning, but revolutionizing the game and making Steph’s #30 jersey de rigueur in, gasp, the playgrounds of New York City.
Back in 2007, two years before Curry’s arrival in the NBA as the No. 7 pick in the draft, I was working as a sports columnist and [cutout] declared myself a free-agent fan, as part of an experiment.
I sent a letter to every franchise in the four major U.S. sports, asking them why I should pledge my heart and my wallet. Why them? Of the 122 teams, only nine took the time to respond. That’s 7 percent of teams, all of which claim to care for the customer. Those that did respond, in alphabetical order, were: the Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Mavericks, Warriors and San Jose Sharks.
The Warriors blew me away. They sent me a jersey with the No. 1 and my name on the back. That was only the beginning.
The team also 1) called to make their interest known and asked for a photo, 2) had more than 25 employees send e-mails, 3) had General Manager Chris Mullin call, 4) drafted a mock press release trumpeting a fan acquisition, 5) included a DVD with first-year players wearing MY jersey, 6) sent me a $1, lifetime contract, (the dollar was taped to the document). The deal includes financial incentives, too, including $10 for appearing at Finals games in which the Warriors participate.
The owner at the time, Chris Cohan, sold the franchise to a group led by venture capitalist Joe Lacob, in 2010. Sitting across the table at the closing was Cohan’s banker, Sal Galatioto.
“One of the things that really impressed me was their focus, they had a plan. They really, really wanted it,” Galatioto says. “I always had the feeling that they were the right buyers. Just look at the result.”
Oh, and the Warriors in 2007 sent another item while trying to convince me, a native New Yorker raised on Rucker Park, The Cage at West 4th Street and Madison Square Garden, to pledge my allegiance. It was a Warriors T-shirt, my face smack dab in the middle, with two words emblazoned across the top:
“We Believe,” it says.
Nowadays, everyone does.