Explain One Pilgrimage, by Chasing Rings
CR reflects on his journey to see his first basketball game
This is a guest article from regular commenter Chasing Rings. Thanks to CR for his permission to share this with everyone.
So I'm sitting in the SF airport with a few hours before I board my return leg of the journey, processing my thoughts from a whirlwind trip up the California coast and thinking to myself this whole experience has felt like a serendipitous series of connections and callbacks to a lifetime of gathering meaningful mementos. From getting a treatment at Esalen, seeing Pebble Beach from a Frank Lloyd Wright house, eating at Chez Panisse, walking the Golden Gate Bridge, honoring Harvey Milk’s house in Castro…the list could go on, each encounter a link to something special I’ve collected on my way through life…
But this trip wasn’t about any of that. This was a pilgrimage to see Wardell Stephen Curry II and the Golden State Warriors play basketball live, in the flesh, and fulfill a dream of the many here at DNHQ…
As humans, we take pilgrimages for different reasons, but one common theme is to experience something close to the transcendent. When I hit my rock bottom about 10 years ago I ended up taking a sabbatical from my family. By the end of that year, I had decided to change my name, leaving behind an identity, religion, and community. And in the vacuum of that rebirth, I found something sublime and magical in the wizardry and joy of a scrawny young point guard from a team I did not know much about and a fanbase who shared in that revelry.
Fast forward through the years, through the unimaginable highs, through the devastating lows, and somehow, through it all, this franchise has been the backbone in a lot of ways of how I have built myself back up.
The word influence comes from an astrological term meaning “streaming ethereal power from the stars, acting upon character or destiny of people”. And though I abhor astrology and anything to do with horoscopes, I can’t help but acknowledge the hollowed luminescence that shines from Steph and the Dubs on my own story arc. To honor that, and how influential they have been to me, I felt I needed to pay homage to them and go on my holy pilgrimage and witness the “ethereal power from the stars” firsthand.
The planned trip was a few years in the making (and saving!) and was expediated by wanting to see the OG’s before they not only retired but seeing them play at a recognizable level of themselves.
And so when I was finally able to afford plane and game tickets I had to decide which game was I going to attend? After some helpful feedback from the HQ, I decided on GSW v WAS, Dec 22, AKA The Jordan Poole Revenge Game! I enjoyed the JP Experience and thought the added Draymond drama would be worth it from a live crowd experience.
Warming up for the big day
But because I hadn't seen a live game of basketball before, I thought it would be a good idea to go along and anchor in my expectations with that of my local pro team before I get baptized by the NBA.
So along I go, queuing up with the other barbarian hordes, as they cheer on their own stars. It's a pretty normal stadium and the court appears way more smaller in person than I imagined. I get to my seat up the back and it slowly dawns on me that my cheap seats are essentially the same distance away from the court as the ones I’ve just paid through the nose to get at Chase (only about a 30th the price!).
And then a strange thing happened. One of the hometown players (and I don’t follow this league so I don’t know anyone) looked oddly familiar like I’d seen them before somewhere, and my quizzical look erupted into all-out shock as my brain completely froze and I pointed at them feverishly. My friends asked what is it? What's wrong? And I had to explain, through whimpering yelps, “That's… that player! He, he played for the Dubs!!”.
It was so surreal to see someone I’ve followed on the Warriors and only seen on a screen, to see them live with my own eyes, I was totally star stuck… And even though there are the things surrounding him (it was #40), I thought if that was my aneurismic reaction to a 2-way player who played one season for the Dubs, how on earth am I going to contain myself when I finally see my OG heroes for the first time?!!
I would have to wait and find out.
The big day
[BTW, thanks for all the tips and suggestions when I reached out on what to do and how to do it whilst traveling over here 🙏🏽 Taking the drive up the coast and stopping along the various spots made me feel much more like that of a traveling pilgrim from the past, rather than that of a modern day, fly in - fly out, tourist 🙂]
Once the day finally comes and I am walking up to the stadium, I feel like I've traveled from the outskirts of the Empire to the capital in Rome to see my gladiatorial heroes do battle at the Colosseum. And instead of SPQR tattoed on my arm, I had DNHQ tattoed in my heart.
I wondered if there were any other HQers there at the game. Would we have a secret handshake or code phrase to identify each other?
“You know who got fired for following Steph?”
“No one ever got fired for following Steph!”
“Yoooo! Nice to finally meet you!”
But alas, after the obligatory visit to the Merch store, I made my way into the belly of the beast and walked out into the cavernous amphitheater that is Chase Centre…
My God, I am actually here. I just stand there, spellbound, soaking it all in. Looking up and seeing the Championship Banners in the rafters. The retired jerseys. Trying not to imagine [#11] [#23] [#30] up there without getting misty-eyed. An unforgettable experience.
I had to wait in line to get my bags searched so I wasn’t sure if Steph had already warmed up or not (he had 😢) but I got to see Klay and JP have their turn!! It was nuts how tuned their shots were, nonchalantly hoisting 3 after 3 after 3 in rhythm without any noticeable variation in result… Truly a sight for a mere mortal to behold.
And then finally on the big screen, you see the team huddle up and then jog out onto the court amongst all the fanfare and I get to see him for the first time. And by him, I mean Him.
I won't attempt to put into words how spellbinding it was. No words to do it justice…
Some thoughts/observations during the watching of the game
The JP Tribute video was so well received and it was kind of good Draymond wasn’t there to overshadow things.
The pace of the game looks a lot slower in real life than watching it on TV. I was quite surprised by that.
There’s a really bad call on Steph and the “Ref You Suck!” chant ensues. There’s a guy who lets the ref have it like he’s bet his house on the game!
Kevon Looney’s knees somehow do not go any higher when he runs.
It’s surprisingly cold. Take a jumper.
Kuminga’s athleticism literally and figuratively jumps out at you
The biggest cheer of the night was the TJD block on one end, run the floor, and alley-oop on the other. I turned and high-fived the stranger next to me and I'm sure we shared a telepathic moment of “We now have a rim protector and a lob finisher? Did we just become best friends?!”
At the half-time break, I’m waiting in the queue to the bathroom, and none other than Raymond Ridder walks by! Dude is like the unflappable Mr Wolf of the Warriors.
At the start of the third, Steph just goes on a tear and I experience my first Curry Flurry!! Unforgettable Joy Baby!!!
Seeing GPII on the bench, even though he was a DNP, was also so worth it 😊
After the game, I go down as close to the player's tunnel as I can get and wait for Steph to walk passed. He acknowledges the crowd in the most humble way and then leaves. That’s when the show really ends.
I collect some yellow confetti streamers as a souvenir of my pilgrimage. Actual proof that I came, I saw, I concurred.
I sometimes think about how I care so much as a fan when there is a turnover or a missed call or a ‘too close it hurts’ loss and how the players need to learn to not care as much about it in order to stay in the moment and make the next play. And when I feel like I’m caring too much, and maybe getting too involved in the comments, and it becomes detrimental to my well-being, I also try and convince myself to not care as much in order to stay in the moment… it’s just a trivial game after all.
But then again, I think if we didn’t care as much, individually and collectively, then there would be no demand for this sport to follow, no NBA to milk our disposable energy, time, and money, no chance to see this team and these transcendental players give what they do and give meaning to where we, as creatures in search for it, find it.
The word trivial comes from the Latin root words Tri (three) and Via (road/way) from the plural of trivium "place where three roads meet".
To me, DNHQ is the confluence of those roads where we get to meet up and share our thoughts on Hoops, DubNation, and Life. It’s thanks to everyone here who turns up in this trivial pursuit and turns it into something more than trivial, something worth caring for… and dare I say each other.
Whilst writing this memoir, I received a text from my sister whom I haven’t been in touch with in a long time but have arranged to stop by in a different country and reconnect with on my way home.
She messaged: “Not sure if you like basketball, but we are going to a game tomorrow night if you don’t have any plans”.
Maybe this pilgrimage was just a short stop on the way to something bigger. Whatever it is, I've had the ride of my life. Thanks for coming with me and being part of the journey DNHQ. Onto the next...
by Chasing Rings
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