(L-R) James Echivaria, Christian Castro and Mike Mital stand in the Mission Dolores Park in San Francisco on Sunday, May 28, 2017. (Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong)

Marco, 34, was wearing a Golden State Warriors sweatshirt on Tuesday as he waited to use the ATM at Wells Fargo. For the past four years, he’s been a fan of the team.

“They’re the team for my city, of course I support them,” he said.

Tonight, he’s going to watch their game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at a sports bar downtown. It’s the first of five games in the NBA finals as the Warriors battle their long-time rivals, and more Mission residents will likely be watching than ever. Mission Local’s Mark Rabine will be covering the games from various bars in the Mission. He’s done a pregame explainer for the perplexed and we’ve mapped Mission viewing sites here. 

The neighborhood didn’t always embrace the team. When the Warriors headed to the finals in 2015 for the first time in four decades, only one person was spotted celebrating near the 24th street Bart Station, and though some people took to the streets after their championship win that year, the crowds that formed were dwarfed by those celebrating the Giants’ World Series Win in 2014, when the celebration got so out of hand, it led to fires and violence across the neighborhood.

But interest in the team seems to have grown in tandem with the Warriors’ success in recent years. It’s hard to walk down either Mission or 24th streets without spotting someone wearing the team’s telltale blue and gold. In shops up and down the neighborhood’s commercial corridors, Warriors gear hangs on prominent display.

Maybe even more so, these days, than the Giants. At Mixcoatl Arts and Crafts at the corner of 24th and South Van Ness streets, the store’s own version of the Warriors t-shirts (it features a skeleton over the team’s colors) are stacked on a rack above the orange and black “Dia de los Gigantes” ones. On the front counter are blue-and-gold bottle cap earrings with images of Stephen Curry’s face.

Connie Rivera, who runs the shop, said they started making the earrings several months ago, and people seem to like them.

Across the street, the Irish bar The Napper Tandy has painted its windows in support of the team, with slogans like “Go Warriors!”

And at Flag Mama, just one block away at 24th and Capp streets, Michelle de Barrionuevo, the store owner, said on Tuesday that her Warriors merchandise had been so popular, she had sold out of the Warriors flags.

“I’m hopefully getting more,” she said.

Michelle said she’s also been seeing a lot of interest in the team among European tourists.

“Warriors have this new fan base abroad,” she said.

The Warriors seem to have been popular far longer among the neighborhood’s tech crowd, maybe because of the various players’ financial involvements and investments in Silicon Valley companies. Warrior Andre Iguodala, who was the NBA’s 2015 MVP, has invested in Facebook, Tesla, and Netflix stock, perhaps contributing to the interest from people working in the industry.

At Sightglass Coffee on 20th street on Wednesday, David, who is a freelance programmer, donned a Warriors t-shirt. When asked if he was a fan, he replied, “Oh man, am I?”

He’ll be watching tonight’s game at a local bar—most likely the 500 Club.

Over at Ritual Coffee Roasters on Valencia, Jason, who runs the Christian non-profit Sozo, said his family became fans of Warriors before they even moved to the Bay Area from Dallas.

“A couple of years ago, when we started dreaming about moving here, we started watching the games,” he said. They’ve been following the team’s successes ever since.

But, he said, it’s his seven-year-old son who loves the team the most. “He’s the raging fan in the house,” he said. “He loves Curry.”


Fans Celebrate with bonfire in the street

Cavs throw Dubs to the dogs

Dubs smash and grab Game 3

Cavs rock, Dubs roll in game two

Dub’s defense steals game one.

NBA finals: a guide for the perplexed.

Where to watch the games

The Mission awaits the finals.

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