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Warriors wash joy over Market Street with jubilant championship celebration

Blue and gold confetti rained on thousands of cheering Warriors fans Monday, as Too Short favorites like “Blow the Whistle” and “Gettin’ It” flowed through the frothing Market Street crowd. For the fourth time in eight years, Golden State fans celebrated an NBA title with their favorite players, this time in downtown San Francisco for the first time since 1975.

Photos by Aaron Levy-Wolins/SFBay

Double-decked tour buses with players, coaches, staff and their families cruised through the streets as fans yelled in excitement to witness their favorite players enjoying the franchise’s seventh championship. Steel barricades shook as they separated the screaming crowd from the parade, as people pushed forward to get a better view.

Downtown was packed with moms and dads hoisting kids on their shoulders. As street vendors hawked knockoff championship t-shirts for a quick buck, the smell of hot dogs and marijuana hit the nose as soon as the BART escalator reached street level.

For much of the country, a Golden State Warriors championship parade has become a norm. Scrolling through Twitter on the day of the parade predictably consisted of videos of players holding up the Larry O’Brien trophy, champagne and confetti splattering into the crazed crowd, and infamous Warriors chants vibrating through the swamped sidewalks.

This year’s parade was also about much more: A new era of Warriors basketball; a homegrown era that can be a building block to more titles.

Isaiah Samad, a 21 year old student at San Francisco University wearing a blue Stephen Curry t-Shirt, told SFBay:

There were so many great moments, but I think the whole season was special. All that sacrifice of being one of the worst teams in the league finally paid off and now we get to celebrate.”

Even though the Warriors have a history of playoff dominance with four titles and six Finals appearances since 2015, this run felt different. The core of Steph, Klay and Draymond remained intact, this time with fresh, young contributors around them, most developed within the Warriors organization. 

The Warriors found talent when no one else did in fan favorites like Jordan Poole, Gary Payton II and Juan Toscano-Anderson. The Golden State fan base, like 21-year-old San Jose State student Ethan DeGuzman. appreciated these players because they felt homegrown:

I appreciated the Kevin Durant era and all the things we accomplished with that team, but I felt like this team embodied the underdog mentality. It’s cool to see a guy like Jordan Poole develop into a champion.”

The Warriors hit rock bottom in 2020 after losing the NBA Finals to the Toronto Raptors in six games the year prior, finishing with a league worst 15-50 record. Fast forward two years, and the team everyone counted out began to look like the “Strength in Numbers” team that rose to champions seven years ago.

For younger fans, this championship run also inspired them to look toward new Warrior faces as their new favorite players.

12-year-old Brian Huang from Oakland, found excitement watching Andrew Wiggins take over Game 5. Ethan Davis, a 5-year-old fan from Modesto, made sure to wake up his parents early to see his favorite Warrior Jordan Poole at the parade.

Many fans acknowledged their love for Oakland parades in the past, but believed that this parade in San Francisco could herald a new era of success for the Warriors. 

Samad said:

“I grew up on the parades at Lake Merritt, but this one I’m going to remember. … I think the city did a great job putting the parade together and it honestly is just better than the ones before.”

Aside from hundreds of thousands of average fans, notable Bay Area celebrities and politicians also showed up to the parade. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi was in attendance, as well as San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Liccardo told SFBay:

Man, I’ve been a fan since 1978, you know I had to be here.”

Breed said:

I’m gonna be smiling and waving so hard my face is gonna hurt.”

What seems to resonate most with fans has been their team’s resilience. After the Warriors failed to make the playoffs for two years, doubt crept into some minds, including that of Josh Crisolo, 21-year-old college student from Dublin: 

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know if we were ever going to be back to being relevant, let alone become a championship team.”

Owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber said in their rally speeches they want to keep coming back to San Francisco to celebrate their championships for years to come.

When asked about the future of the Warriors, Guber said:

We’re going to have a sequel.”

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