It was 6:30am and the street was buzzing like it was 12 noon with the number of people already assembling trying to get their perfect spot to see the NBA World Champions. So early I barely knew my name and social security number, but I was up and ready to cover my hometown team victory parade and rally. Grabbing a quick breakfast and out of the doors of the hotel, it was the prefect decision to stay the night at the Marriott so I could be in place and fight the crowd. Dressed in my blue suit I was ready to celebrate and cover this amazing story. The Warriors win for the first time in 4 decades and everyone was elated. No matter the age, race, or sex the young and old were in Golden State Warriors paraphernalia. Everyone united and happy was something to see.
Walking six blocks to the media check-in I was ready to claim my perfect spot and that I did. Armed with everything I would need to get the perfect photos and videos of history that had been made. After being seated on the front row of the VIP section I climbed on the platform to do my intro to the amazing day ahead.
The celebration rally ends with the players gathered to take selfies around the NBA championship trophy, blue and gold confetti and streamers flowing through the air and “We Are the Champions,” by Queen, playing in the background.
Street sweepers go down parade route, maintenance crews walk along using leaf blowers to clear confetti.
MVP Stephen Curry comes to the podium, without his adorable daughter Riley.
“Woo! We did it, we did it. I’m going to be short and sweet. We’ve been out in the sun all day. I can’t tell you how beautiful it is to see all this blue and yellow. The city of Oakland has supported us,”
Curry said. “It’s been a long journey, this year has been so much fun.”
“Six years ago when I was drafted, I lived right here on Lake Merritt. I could walk around and not be recognized. Now we’re world champs and I’m known as Riley’s dad. That’s OK.”
The league’s best 3-point shooter said, “We’re going to suit up in three more months and try to do it again.”
Riley then comes to the stage to be with her famous father. Curry pauses to let her speak. She puts her arm over her mouth and then makes one loud unintelligible sound.
“All of Dub Nation, we did it, we did it. Let’s celebrate,” Curry said.
The crowd chants MVP, MVP, MVP as Andre Iguodala, flashing a big grin, is introduced.
“What an amazing experience. I canceled my tee time this morning, so it must have been something important for me to cancel my tee time.
“We finally did it. Enjoy it. Thanks.
Draymond Green, the voice of the Warriors, grabs Larry Fitzgerald’s mike.
“It’s going to get controversial” Green said. “Just give me 30 minutes. This is amazing. On the bus, in practice, wherever with these guys, was fun.
Green kept it light and funny.
“Every time I take a shot, Steve Kerr complains. Every time I make a shot I look at him. Twenty-four percent, but I got a ring.”
Coach Steve Kerr joked that he started the year with a weak roster and players with shaky characters.
“I realized I’ve got to teach Steph and Klay how to shoot baskets from really far. I had to teach Draymond in nine months to become confident, rational, talk trash to the other team, his coach, his mother, to be a general pain in the butt. … Sorry, I got carried away.”
In a joking mood, Kerr takes all the credit for the NBA title.
“Everywhere I go all I hear is how incredible these guys are to watch, how explosive, how cool they were, how well they handle themselves in interviews. In nine months, I did all that.”
Warriors co-owner Peter Guber said, “To get to a parade, you have to have a dream. … Enjoy this moment, suck it in, taste it. It’s an elixir.”
Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob said, “We did it. We did it. NBA champions.”
“I’m not sure many people can say they’ve been booed by 20,000 people and cheered by millions,” he continued.
Someone in the crowd yells, “Stay in Oakland.”
“I looked at the lonely banner in the rafters in the Oracle Arena and said we need another one. … Today it’s all about the people,” Lacob said.
“Our fans, our greatest asset, have been fantastic. You are the greatest fans in the world. Other people say it, but you are. Today, we are world champions.”
MVP Steph Curry is holding his daughter Riley, who stole the show during the NBA Finals post game news conferences. A sign in crowd reads, “Curry for President.”
Warriors broadcaster Tim Roye said he knew he was broadcasting to “a passionate, loyal fan base that loves the Warriors. Can we get a ‘Warriors’?”
The crowd replied, “Warriors.”
“That’s a sweet sound. I love that,” Roye said.
Steve Kerr, Warriors coach, introduced, followed by players onstage, all get big props from the crowd. Huge roar as Steph Curry takes the stage, introduced as the “baby-faced assassin.”
Mayor Libby Schaaf speaks: “This team will be remembered for the way they played on the court and their character off the court,” she said. “Our city has had a love affair with this team.”
She gives the team a key to the city forged at the Crucible in Oakland.
Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty works up the crowd, and praises the Warriors for setting an example of how “work hard, be humble and get the job done.”
Rally begins to start, as dignitaries, players take the stage. Crowd is estimated at 500,000, according to Oakland police. There are some reports of heatstroke in the crowd.
With Lake Merritt in the background, thousands of fans gather in front of Kaiser Auditorium, where the rally will soon be under way.
Union City neighbors Nicholas Gray, 10, and Tash Winder, 9, stood among the crowd by Lake Merritt holding their homemade Warriors sign.
“There must be millions and millions of people,” Tash said.
“I’m so happy that we are here,” said Nicholas, who has blue and gold braces in honor of his favorite team. He’s excited to show them off at basketball camp where he’s going to see Steph Curry in person this summer.
“It’s so cool to win when we have a rookie coach and have only won one season before,” Nicholas said.
Fans, gathering up armfuls of blue-and-gold confetti, merge into the streets after the parade barriers are removed on Broadway, to head to the rally.
Two Oracle Arena employees celebrated in anticipation. Cherrie Thompson and LeJuana Evans, both of Oakland, said they were happy for the team, especially after it struggled for so many years.
“It was their year; they stayed humble and stayed positive,” said Thompson, who works as a cook at Warriors games. “They deserved to win.”
Evans and Thompson said they hope the Warriors stay in Oakland, their home for 44 years, instead of moving to San Francisco.
“Oakland is their home, their foundation,” Thompson said. “It’s a whole different atmosphere here. In Oakland, the Warriors have unconditional love.”
She pointed to the large audience gathered at the rally. “See all the love they have over here?”
Seahawks RB and Oakland native Marshawn Lynch hitches a ride on the Draymond Green float. The crowds now moving toward Lake Merritt as the final trucks have passed, to get a better view of the rally at the Kaiser Auditorium.
The crowds finally get what they are waiting for. To chants of “MVP, MVP!” a smiling Stephen Curry, with wife Ayesha and daughter Riley, rolls down Broadway on a double-decker bus with teammate Andre Iguodala. More trolleys of fans and another Burning Man art car trail behind.
Players Leandro Barbosa, Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green roll up Broadway on double-decker buses, to thunderous cheers. Following close behind, trolleys full of fans. Near 14th Street, one long suffering fan, 34-year-old John Anderson of Pittsburg, said he has been around since “we traded (Chris) Weber and kept (Don) Nelson. I cried,” and since “Latrell Sprewell choked the coach.”
“I can’t believe we won,” said Anderton, who brought his 8-year-old son to the parade. “I hope this starts a dynasty.”
Marching bands, showered with blue-and-gold confetti, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf riding a Burning Man Snail Car down Broadway. Iris Martinez, 17, of San Lorenzo, was standing on Broadway near the 19th Street BART station among a crowd eagerly anticipating a glimpse of their Warrior stars. “The crowd is kind of what drives you here,” said Martinez, a full-time student at Chabot Community College majoring in business. “There’s a lot of energy here.” She said she became an ardent Warrior fan around 2012, although she added, “I’ve always been a fan. I grew up here.”
Warriors parade underway. BART inundated with fans and records 174,308 entries as of 8:30 a.m., spokeswoman Alicia Trost said.
There is crowding at the Lake Merritt station, which has less capacity than other downtown Oakland stations, she said, and advised riders to exit at 12th or 19th street stations.
The Top 3 stations of entry so far: Fremont 9,717, Dublin 7,283 and El Cerrito Del Norte 7,743.
Top exit stations: Lake Merritt 20,000, Embarcadero and Montgomery in San Francisco 22,000 (normal commute people) and 12th Street in Oakland 19,000
Trost advises riders to use 12th or 19th street stations and to get a round-trip ticket.
“Ticket sales line are long from so many new riders who didn’t already have tickets and have never used our machines. We have staff out helping but there are lots of fans,” she said.
Broadway lined with a sea of blue and gold fans as the Warriors prepare to roll downtown, starting from 11th Street. Fans still pouring out of BART’s downtown station. Ridership spiked Friday morning, and 8:30 a.m. 128,000 riders had entered the system.
Juan V., 23, dressed like a chicken in Warriors gear to the delight of fans at the Kaiser Convention Center rally site. A lifelong fan, he said past seasons were frustrating.
“I still can’t believe that they won,” he said. “It’s surreal.”
Raul De La Rosa, 27, and girlfriend Emily Crawford, 25, drove from Santa Rosa at 5:30 a.m. so the could go to the rally next to Lake Merritt. One of their first dates three years ago was a Warriors home game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, and Crawford said she has been hooked on the team ever since.
“It’s been exciting to see the team get better,” she said. “This has all been building steam.”
De La Rosa, a die-hard Warriors and Raiders fan, said the Warriors’ NBA championship almost left him speechless.
“The feeling is so hard to explain,” he said, noting the team had been perennial losers for most of 4 decades. “We’ve been down so long. It’s nice that we’re finally getting respect.”
Clad in Warriors blue and gold, they cheered and waved flags among a throng of tens of thousands of fans jammed at the Oakland rally site between Lake Merritt and the Kaiser Convention Center.
Temeka O’Bannon, 35, of Fairfield, and her 15-year-old son Temeterius, arrived at the lakeside rally site at 5 a.m. They wore special sunglasses that had the team’s slogan, ‘Strength in Numbers.’
Enduring decades of losing made the Warriors’ first title in 40 years all the sweeter, Temeka O’Bannon said. “It’s about sticking with your team, being faithful,” she said. “It’s more rewarding to see the Warriors win now, knowing that I stuck with them in the bad times.”
Now that the Warriors are NBA champs with a young, talented team, fans like O’Bannon want more. “Let’s get another one!” she said. “Back to back!”
Longtime Warriors fan Antoinette Martin, 50, was on the third floor of the Rene Davidson Courthouse before the start. There was no view of the parade or rally from there, but there was a scheduled court hearing with her name on it to get a restraining order against a bothersome neighbor.
She fought the crowds and entered from the county administrative building, the only way in on Friday for the nearly closed courthouse.
“This is history being made today. I’m not right in the middle of it but I’m here,” said the Berkeley resident, whose favorite player is Steph Curry of course. “The atmosphere outside feels great. It puts a spring in everybody’s step.”