My first game at Chase
DNHQ's Duby Dub Dubs goes to the new digs
So, this article will be a little different than my others, but I wanted to share the experience of the first time I went to a Golden State Warriors game at Chase Center.
If you are just here for basketball, the Warriors have found out who their opponent will be for the Western Conference Finals. The Dallas Mavericks blew the doors off the Phoenix Suns’ fledgling empire and will face the Warriors. I’m excited for this matchup as there’s an undeniable aura surrounding the Mavericks’ rising star, Luka Doncic - who will now have to battle Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, and Klay Thompson.
The first game is Wednesday, and we will have your preview up on game day as always.
The schedule is going to be easy to follow, as each game will be at 6pm on TNT (except game 7, should it be necessary), with a cycle of one day of rest between the battles.
Again, fair warning that the below is just my personal experience about going to my first game at Chase Center, and is not my normal basketball article.
I attended countless games in Oakland, some back before it was Oracle, but the brightest memories come from that time. Oracle and the Warriors were a major part of my fandom. The rise of We Believe, and then the weird stumbling years before the Dynasty was born.
But I hadn’t yet made the trip into San Francisco to the new arena. My connection with going to games in Oakland was deeply personal and I just couldn’t muster the willpower/desire for it. But this opportunity felt right. A kind stranger reached out —or I guess not really a stranger, a familiar name from the community we have all invested time and energy into creating here at DNHQ — and offered a pair of tickets to game four.
So I rounded up my number one (my wife) and took in my first game at Chase Center. We don’t get out much these days, so it was a little extra special getting to share this together.
As for the game, the Warriors couldn’t shoot all night. Fresh off one of the hottest shooting games in NBA playoff history, the Warriors (and Grizzlies) clanked shot after shot in game four. But then, like magic, it all came together at the end. A close win over a tough opponent, the sort of night that is perfect for fans to be in attendance for.
Like many, the first question I had about going to Chase was the question of transportation. Because of where I live, attending a game at Oracle was a breeze. BART was a short walk, but I found that it was better for me to just drive. Parking on the outside edge of the lot and then coming out on Hegenberger, I could take a left and head out towards highway 13 — away from the huge log jam of people trying to cram through onto the 880. I could watch until the final whistle, and still be home in time to watch the post game interviews.
Chase will eventually have a connected subway system, but for now, there’s a patchwork of imperfect options… or so I thought. Normally, I’d ride the motorcycle to something like this (and sure enough, there was a ton of street parking for motorcycles right in front of the venue); but with Mrs. Duby along, we opted for the ferry ride. With a couple of road beers in hand, we found our way to the line at Jack London square and waited with all the other fans.
I missed this. The electric energy, the pent up need to yell “Waaaaa-r-eeeeeeee-oooooors" — it had been way too long.
Fittingly enough, my lovely wife has her own sort of fandom. She mostly watches all the games with me (though her admitted favorite part is “the last two minutes”) and tends to know as much or more than me about the player’s personal lives and travels. We met via a Warriors game. A mutual friend invited me to go ride bikes in the city on his birthday, and then we’d BART over to Zacharies for some pizza, and then from there on to the game; or so I thought. But after a long sweaty day of pedaling all around San Francisco, I was a little surprised when he steered us towards the Filmore. His friend there would drive us.
I wasn’t ready. My car was in Richmond, I needed my bike for getting to school… but my buddy had one of those fancy bicycles that couldn’t safely be locked up like my $100 dollar road bike that I bought second hand and crudely painted with spray paint and some tape to make stripes. But when his friend opened the door I was pulled back to the current situation.
“You guys look hot and sweaty,” she said as introduction.
Waving off my apologies, she started the process of me falling in love with her by offering beers instead of rebukes. I was vegetarian back then. We shared a spinach salad (bacon on the side) and a veggie pizza. We sat next to each other and chatted. She was cool. Owned her own toy company, lived with some of her friends in the same building that currently held my bicycle hostage, and was single.
Despite all the years together, there’s still a spark there when I see her. We got the storybook happy ending together. In a lot of ways, stepping off the ferry with the crowd and walking towards the new Warriors game felt like a return home. The cycle had been completed. Back when me and the wife met, it was right before the We Believe team blew up. I could get into Oracle for 20 bucks.
Now it was a reverse commute. Us in Oakland, not SF, and the team had swapped places with us. That area feels so familiar, but I don’t think I’d been back on the water side of things since the Warriors spent a billion dollars to make a new home. The ferry ride was a breeze, and I found myself walking fast for no reason as we approached Chase. There was still a spark for me here, in this new place.
The DNHQ community recommended the taco truck, on the north side of the building, but I was too excited. Where’s North? What am I, a sailor? Anyways, we looked up and found ourselves standing right by the Chase entry line while trying to figure it out. I couldn’t wait. “Let’s just go in and figure out food later.”
Like any venue, there’s the new normal of double entry checks. First the vaccine check, then the tickets. Because these were a gift from a community member here, I was a little nervous that they wouldn’t work — right up until I heard that beep of approval and got waved in.
I probably didn’t do a good job of checking out the arena, but like an airport security line, there was a herd vibe that takes over, forcing me to quickly squeeze through the throngs; racing against some undefined pressure. Up, up, up. Just like Club 200 (where the real fans are at!), the process of shuffling up through the floors using escalators was extremely familiar. Though the sights are different, it’s also the same. Overpriced beer, Warriors gear, someone at a booth selling timeshares or Wall Street Journal subscriptions or something.
“Oh look, Bakesale Betty’s!”
That was it. That was the food choice. Knowing it wasn’t really going to be Bakesale Betty’s was similar to the overall game experience: it wasn’t the same, but this new reality was close enough.
So, chicken sandwich in hand, we found our seats. At Chase they have zone numbers for seating, but we still managed to come in from the wrong side. I did the long legs guy move of stepping up and down over rows to get past, my wife more politely and patiently working her way through.
They say that extra care was taken to ensure the same dimensions, but the rows are noticeably steeper, the walking room tighter. As a big dude squeezing past someone, there was a vertigo-inducing moment as we bumped and like a slackline I’m suddenly using my whole body to maintain balance. The rows are steep, the elevation causing my brain to bizarrely pivot to a scene of what it would look like if me, my beer, and my sandwich came crashing down into the unfortunate ones in the rows below.
Sitting, my feet weren’t as extended as at Oracle. Like a parent at kindergarten night, I felt like I was crammed into a space that wasn’t designed for my dimensions. Once the game started, none of these little details mattered. The upper deck crowd is where I belong. I’ve got some silly things to yell and it makes me feel good when I hear people laughing. For example, in the lull of silence after an opposing player makes a free throw, I yell as loud as I can “YOU STILL SUCK!”
They can’t hear me from up here, but I’m not yelling for the players so much as I am for the crowd. Like starting a mosh pit at a punk concert, there’s this self-sustaining feedback loop of energy that often needs a few weirdos to kick it off.
We are up near eye level with the huge scoreboard. It’s an enormous, high definition modern marvel of a screen.
What’s rad about this one is that the size and fidelity allow for a level of detail totally unheard of at Oracle. Full box score stats for all players (not just those on court), team stats, including the Four Factors? Amazing.
The game itself was fun, but a grind fest. Neither team could hit their shots all night. It was a low scoring game that felt like a game from the 90’s.
After the final whistle, we started working our way down. No lollygagging, because I'd read that the ferry departs a little too quick after the game. But for us it was fine. Plenty of time to stroll back along the water and then pile into the boat.
As we pulled away from Chase and headed back across the water it was good. It felt a little like I found a new home. Different from what I had become so familiar with, but still close enough to the same, when it came down to what really matters.