In what was likely the biggest crowd downtown San Francisco has seen since before the pandemic, thousands of faithful fans gathered Monday morning along Market Street to celebrate the Golden State Warriors’ fourth championship win and catch a glimpse of their favorite players.
By mid-morning, a sea of blue and gold-clad fans stood in patient anticipation, waiting for the parade to begin its way down Market. The quiet hum was markedly different compared to Thursday night’s frenzy leading up to and after the team’s Game 6 win, though people were just slowly waking up. It was Monday, after all.
And, even though the crowds stayed relatively tame, people still turned up for a festive morning: Groups of friends passed bottles and blunts among themselves as they got themselves pumped, up once, more for their team.
“I came here from L.A.,” said Nicole Coleman, 47, who was perched on scaffolding near Main and Market streets waiting to catch a glimpse of Steph Curry. “It’s my birthday!”
Coleman, a fan of 15 years, had preemptively booked a flight to San Francisco for the parade, thinking it would be later in the week, then had to quickly change her reservations. But it worked out — the parade fell on her birthday and she found herself with double the reason to celebrate.
Carlos Franco, who was holding his 7-year-old daughter, Stella, on his shoulders, said he was just happy to see everyone getting along with each other. Today was his second championship parade; at the last one, he had his older daughter on his shoulders. Now 11, she had graduated to perching on scaffolding this time around, but the family carried with them a photo from the 2015 parade.
As Franco told Mission Local about being a Pleasant Hill resident, a bus carrying coach Steve Kerr and other players pulled up, and naturally Franco was distracted; he stopped the conversation to start bellowing at former player Leandro Barbosa: “Barbosaaaaaa, let’s goooooooo!”
“Sorry,” he said later, chuckling.
In the sea of blue and yellow, creativity paid off. Those who found scaffolding or even trees and lampposts to perch or hang off of were rewarded with views beyond the backs of people’s heads. One boy had strapped himself to the lamppost with a belt so he could lean back and relax; a man at a Market and Sixth street Muni shelter was fully prone on top of a bus shelter, filming the festivities. He was later joined by perhaps a dozen new friends; it turns out a Muni shelter roof supports people better than it protects them from rain.
Those who couldn’t finagle such positions were, unfortunately, left in the lurch. Matt Scott and Jorge Sanchez, both in wheelchairs, were disappointed that there were no accommodations or special areas for people with disabilities. “I’m really sad and disappointed,” Scott said. “This is our team. Steph Curry is my idol.”
Sanchez said the pair had arrived early, and had hoped there would be an area where they could participate in the party as well. By 11 a.m., before the parade had even begun, the two friends were posted on a side street, and said they would make the “long push” back home and watch on television instead.
Fans from all across the Bay Area were thrilled to see their idols, their “future husbands,” in the flesh, and broke out into ecstatic cheering whenever a new bus carried another player by. Players saluted their fans with a raised drink, or a friendly spray with a water gun (or bottle of bubbly).
A group of young women began screaming in excitement when Klay Thompson rolled up, but their faces quickly turned to dismay when his bus zoomed past instead of giving their section of the crowd proper time and attention. When the bus stopped a few yards away, people left their spots to catch a longer look at him.
A bit later, further down Market Street, Omar Jimenez, 28, was already reminiscing with his group of friends about the moment Klay Thompson reached out and touched their hands. “It was an unforgettable moment,” said Jimenez.
“He was spraying champagne all over us!” added Reyna Salazar, 27. Salazar said they didn’t even arrive early, but managed to find their way to the front of the crowd for the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Jonathan Garcia, 24, watched the parade from in front of Proper Food, a restaurant at Market and First streets, where he was completing a work shift. He’s been a fan of the Warriors since his dad introduced him to the team when he was five. His fondest memory of the series final was watching Andrew Wiggins meet the moment by delivering an impressive volley of threes.
“He’s a hustler, and I’m a hustler,” Garcia said. “Anyone who hustles like him, especially this season, is a fan favorite in my book.”
Former Oakland resident Jon Kirst was excited to be a part of the celebrations here in San Francisco after watching the past three championships from across the bay. He appreciated seeing the humanity of the team; their perseverance through the struggles like Klay Thompson’s injuries made them all the more real.
“For Curry, when you saw him break down and cry, man, it just hits home that this is a team of awesome human beings, not just superstars,” Kirst said.
Kimberley Cason, 42, said she was so happy she could have cried when she saw the Game 6 win was final. “I’m so happy that we’ve evolved since way back with you know, Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway to Chris Webber and Steph Curry. So we’re all good now. I’m happy.”
“Strength in numbers, right? If you believe in the mantra, the team will get done with a dynasty right?” said Ed Reyes, 38. “Number one draft is going to be the right team and chemistry.”
It wasn’t only longtime fans who showed up today; new supporters wanting to be a part of the day were also out in force.
“I feel kinda spoiled living here, honestly; it’s our fourth in eight years. It’s kinda crazy,” said Kevin Wang, a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, who seemed to have moved on from his struggling hometown team in New York and adopted the Warriors as his own.
Reyes said coming out of the pandemic made the win even more special for the Bay Area. “Just a sense of normalcy back to, like, reopening good times, right? And so everyone loves a parade and energy more than ever, right?” Reyes said. “What’s happening in the country, macroeconomics, it’s hard times, right? Inflation is bad, or we hear … it’s like, enjoy the moment.
“I figured, captured energy is what you have over here, and helped to bring them hard. Work hard every day, right?”
Additional reporting by Joe Eskenazi.