A woman pours tequila into bargoers' mouths.
A woman pours tequila into bargoers' mouths. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan

There were seven minutes left in the fourth quarter of Game 6, and at Double Play Bar and Grill, you couldn’t hear yourself think. Unless, your thought, of course, was Steph is MVP, or WHOOOOO, or That’s it! Ballgame!

“EVERYBODY!” shouted Potrero Hill resident Dale Smith, 32, a little sauced on the moment. “There’s what? Seven minutes left? The Warriors are in the lead? Y’all better put your shit on airplane mode right now, before you get all those notifications!”

Obviously, the home team won. Handily. With one second left, no one at Double Play was seated. Probably no one in the city was. 

“It feels amazing. At the end of the day, the fact that all these guys are grateful to just be here. When they’re at the top of their game — it’s scary,” Smith said. “My dad was a season ticket-holder. My family hasn’t kept it, but I’ve always been a fan. They might say Steph isn’t clutch, but it’s a game-winner. At the end of the day, it’s four rings.”

Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan.

Sure, the bar at Bryant and 16th streets is full of baseball gloves and Lou Seal photos, but a San Francisco championship is a San Francisco championship. And, believe us, the back room of Double Play is packed table to table with every variation of blue and gold you can imagine. In the sports world, any Bay win is a win. Especially without Kevin Durant, some said.

“This just solidifies the Warriors dynasty. People had doubts when KD joined us that we won just because of KD. But no. We won because of us,” said Austin Kang, a resident of Russian Hill and a former Mission resident. He joined his eight friends at Double Play, some of whom he knows from college, and who are sprinkled out all over the city and East Bay. He was partaking in some communal pistachios. 

Courtney Tamaki, an Oakland resident, agreed. She said it means more to win without Durant. “This is the first genuine win in the last 10 years. Team chemistry. Team love. And it’s not just about who could score the most,” Tamaki said. 

“I’d rather the DA won,” said Jack H., an ex-Bernal Heights resident. “But this is amazing.”

The crowd erupted in Double Play’s back room. Everyone angled toward the one large TV on the wall, much like a living room at a pal’s house — a pal that has Modelo on draft, and kind bartenders to serve it to you. (One bartender had cobalt-blue eyeliner and giant gold hoops, obviously.) 

People brought their own game day snacks: Stacy’s Pita Chips, Chips Ahoy, and the pistachios advertised during the 2016 Super Bowl. Not even to halftime, with the Dubs having built up a decent lead, spectators inside Double Play talked about where they’d head next when the team won this thing. When Steph faked out a Celtics player and sank a three in the third quarter, the crowd simultaneously roared, “LET’S GOOOOOOOO!”, stood on the worn-down wooden chairs, and high-fived every person at the adjacent tables. The man who brought three bags of pistachios ceremoniously passed them around. 

People from Dr. Teeth take to the streets after the Warriors win the finals. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan.

Bill Ryan, born and raised in the Excelsior and a stagehand with Local 16, was the one who brought the pistachios. He said, as a native, he craves few things during sports games other than pistachios and burritos. The win? “It was all the friendship and the high-fives. The Celtics looked scared. And gosh darn single, we got it. And we popped it like a can of Pringles.”

Teeth was at capacity and, midway through the third quarter, a woman was already dancing on the bar, pouring tequila into the mouths of the lucky few seated there. With every Celtics miss and every bucket or call-in favor of the Warriors, the entire bar broke out into increasingly wild cheers. 

With a minute left on the clock, the win was clear, and people spilled out of Teeth and into the street, cars honking and slowing to cheer along with those on foot. Some waved massive flags in the middle of Mission Street, others from on top of cars. Spectators took to the rooftops.

“I came to San Francisco from Nicaragua,” said Arnaldo Gonzalez Escobar, 39, who said he arrived at 21st and Alabama streets in 1992. “And you know what? The Warriors were a laughingstock for the whole league. But now we’re champions.” 

“Being in San Francisco, born and raised. I mean, what else can you say? We got a dynasty in our city in the bay,” said Jose Zelada, who emceed the game at Bar TZA and was outside near 21st and Mission streets enjoying the ruckus in the minutes after the game ended. 

“I thought we’re gonna win, just I thought it was gonna be a tougher game,” said Edward Molina, who was decked out in his Golden State gear but, had his car hit while he was inside Bar TZA. When he came back to the bar for the fourth quarter, he said he was “amazed by the lead.” 

Some call it a win, others wait out the last few seconds of the game before they begin to celebrate. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan.

In spite of the noise and celebratory mood just across the street, about 100 people had gathered around an altar for Sara Paredes, 29, who was killed in a hit-and-run car crash early Tuesday morning. The somber attendees were a stark contrast to the cheering crowds just feet away. 

Police quickly arrived to block off Mission Street, and crowds converged at the 24th and Mission streets to blast music, shoot fireworks and simply revel together. One man beat a pan with a wooden spoon.

“It was amazing, and the best part about it was that they won in Boston, in front of all those Boston fans,” said Raquel Trigueros of the Excelsior. “Shut ’em down!” 

Trigueros laughed with her friends at the BART plaza about the moment when Steph Curry made his “night-night” pose. “When he does that, it’s over!” she explained excitedly. 

A few blocks away, at 24th Street near Alabama Street, the neighborhood was thick with firework showers and smoke. It was a brief moment of joy for Lucy, 56, Alabama Street born and raised. She was recently Ellis-Act evicted from her home, the same one her Puerto Rican mom raised her and her brother in, the one she raised her son in, who is now 28. She has watched the Warriors since the Cow Palace days. “This means everything. Community. Faithfulness. This is a happy place. No matter where I go, this is where my heart will be,” she said. “This is how we DO!” Lucy gestured to the corner, where a trio salsa-stepped in front of her. Meanwhile fireworks exploded over the papel picado; the sound of victory. 

A few blocks down, a crowd of hundreds congregated along Treat Avenue, where people climbed the light poles and halted cars in their tracks to wave banners in their face. Johanna Luddy, the co-owner of and a bartender at Ruth’s at Treat Street, happily talked to regulars who stopped by. Tom carried his son Henry, 7, on his shoulders for his first Warriors ‘ship. Luddy grinned, and admitted because she was serving drinks she at first didn’t realize victory had arrived. But quickly after seeing everyone’s reactions, she lit up. “Everybody is full of love and life. They belong here. Thank goodness!”

“When the Giants won in 2014, his sister was on my shoulders. Now, she’s 20,” Tom said. Luddy grinned.

“The city is about to light up like it hasn’t lit up in a long time, you know, we’re coming back from the pandemic,” Zelada said. “We’re letting go, people are gonna get wild … we’re excited, we’re happy to be Warriors fans and Warriors natives here. Everybody in the Bay Area deserves this today.” 

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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

REPORTER. Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim over eight years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you as always for your reportage on this! I see SFPD’s Mission Station Twitter is characterizing the celebrations as a “violent riot” now with “about 17” officers injured, a week after the fact. This doesn’t jibe with what myself and a lot of other Mission residents saw that night. Would be interested to see these claims investigated.

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