The Golden State Warriors have hopped across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco, leaving their beloved Oracle Arena in Oakland behind.
It will be a challenging adjustment for those who played at Oracle in a Golden State Warriors uniform. It has been the franchise’s home since 1971, barring a season in exile due to renovation in the mid-1990s.
While the arena is not a futuristic technological wonder like many NBA stadiums are today, it was certainly a special place. The exceptionally loyal Oakland crowd generated one of the most raucous atmospheres in the league, especially in recent years, when the Warriors became the dynasty we know today.
It was where Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green grew up and defied the odds to reach the summit of professional basketball, transforming an unfashionable franchise into one of the most famous sports teams in the world.
The move to the Chase Center is an exciting one, particularly from a financial perspective. Likewise, it is not a major relocation, at least in a geographical sense, with the arenas of past and future separated by just 11 miles.
Yet there are not too many similarities between Oakland and San Francisco beyond proximity, and there are rumors that the Warriors players are not exactly relishing the move.
More from Blue Man Hoop
- 3x champion may come to regret forgoing Golden State Warriors reunion
- Golden State Warriors: History shows USA may need Stephen Curry for more than the Olympics
- 7 players Golden State Warriors might replace Klay Thompson with by the trade deadline
- Golden State Warriors villain pours on more pain to end USA’s World Cup
- Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry continues philanthropic efforts off the court
As well as many Golden State fans viewing the relocation with a sense of poignancy, the organization’s ineffable connection to Oracle clearly extends to those on the court.
Therefore the biggest question surrounding the Chase Center may be whether it will negatively affect the Warriors’ performances. Golden State have gone an astounding 173-32 at home over the last five regular seasons; Oracle has been the backbone of their success.
It is reassuring, then, that recent history is bereft of stories of teams struggling significantly when they move arenas. Of the last ten franchises to switch stadiums but not relocate across the country (à la Oklahoma City Thunder), six actually improved their home records in their first campaign in their new digs, compared to their final one in the previous arena.
No team lost more than five additional home games in the inaugural season following the move, indicating that the Warriors, who went an impressive 30-11 in games at Oracle last year, should not decline substantially in San Francisco.
However, perhaps the best comparison for the Warriors is the Chicago Bulls, who moved from Chicago Stadium to the United Center in 1994.
The Bulls, of course, were without Michael Jordan for the bulk of the 1994-95 season, and the distance between the two arenas was minuscule compared to that of the Warriors, so the two teams are far from a perfect match.
Nevertheless, they are both teams that rose from mediocrity to iconic status in one stadium (the Bulls had had little success prior to their first three-peat, which was secured in 1993) before moving on shortly after.
Thus the fact that the Bulls went 28-13 at home in their first year in the United Center, only a three-game drop from the preceding season, is encouraging for the Warriors.
It is also worth noting that Chicago were 12-11 at home in January 1995, before rattling off two separate seven-game winning streaks in the Windy City.
With new locker rooms, a different background behind the basket and an unfamiliar crowd, Golden State may experience similar struggles during their opening games at the Chase Center, but there is evidence that suggests they will come good.
The Warriors will never be the same after leaving Oakland, but lesser teams have managed to adjust to arena changes. In a pure basketball sense, Golden State should be much the same in San Francisco.