On this night 6 years ago, April 23, 2015. This is when the Golden State Warriors magical run really started for me. One of the most amazing games I’ve ever seen. When you realized — to use a hoary sports talk cliche — that this Warriors team was a “team of destiny.” It was a Playoff game against the New Orleans Pelicans, and I watched the game that night at this little bar in Oakland, the Golden Bull.
The Warriors were on their way to their first championship, as well as an amazing five-year run in the NBA Finals. Even though we didn’t know it at the time. But this game was the game when we all could sense there was something special, something magic, about this Warriors team.
The Warriors had one of the most unbelievable comebacks I’ve ever seen that night. Down by 17 points with 6 minutes left in the game. But somehow they pulled it off. Pure magic. Steph Curry hit two — count em TWO — unbelievable back-to-back three-point shots in the last seconds of the game, that sent the game into Overtime and led to the victory.
I watched the game at this little bar/club in downtown Oakland, the Golden Bull. I was living in Oakland at the time, recovering from eye surgery in a little hotel room by Lake Merritt. So that’s what I was doing down there. But I HAD to drag myself out of my sick bed for this game. Every sports bar in downtown Oakland was completely jammed full to capacity with crazed Warriors fans. This game was like an Event. Which is how I ended up at this weird little bar. The Golden Bull. Usually they featured artsy, alt rock, local modern metal bands (I guess that’s what you would describe the music). But they also had a little television set on the wall playing the Warriors game. So I bought a pitcher of beer at the bar and took a seat in front of the TV. That night there was a power trio that was the featured attraction. They had a woman on lead vocals and bass with big hair, a woman drummer with lots of tattoos, and a guy on guitar. They sort of shouted, chanted, anthem-like vocals. Pretty dark kind of death metal music, but with some melody. If they lightened up a bit they’d almost be the B-52s.
Anyways the band was just starting to warm up for their set as the Warriors started their amazing fourth quarter comeback. At first I was the only one watching the basketball game. The clientele at this joint really wasn’t geared up for that sort of entertainment. It was a black leather jacket, lots of tattoos, multi-colored hair and body piercings kind of crowd, if you know what I mean. But one by one all the hipsters retreated from the stage area and started gathering around this little TV set on the wall to watch the game. The loud cheers of happy disbelief growing with each amazing Warriors bucket. The band was probably annoyed, but they wisely postponed their set until after the Warriors had won in OT. Ha ha.
It was like an ultimate Oakland moment (it still annoys me to this day that they called themselves the Golden State Warriors, as if the Oakland Warriors didn’t have enough gravitas living in the shadows of San Francisco — they were an OAKLAND team through and through, and the city always embraced them through thick and thin, and they REALLY embraced them on this particular night).
A fun night. I don’t think I had been to see live music in a club in 20 years. And the only reason I ended up seeing that band was by accident because I had come in to watch the Warriors game. But I stayed for their whole set. And every song sounded better with every beer.
Later that night as I was leaving the club, the Golden Bull, I noticed a big display of flowers that was propped up against a lamp-post on the sidewalk right in front of the club (you can see some of the flowers on the bottom right-hand part of the photo). It was a memorial to this guy who had been in one of the bands who had played at the Golden Bull a couple of days earlier. He had been shot and killed by stray gunfire at that exact spot by a drive-by shooting that just happened to happen while he was unloading his equipment in and out of the club. He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time (there are many such times and places in the city of Oakland). Which added a strange life-and-death ambiance to the whole night.
Anyways, that was an Oakland moment from 6 years ago.