Raptors Face Off In Oakland Against Warriors In NBA Finals Game 6
NOEL KING, HOST:
Tonight is Game 6 of the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors will play in Oakland. This is the last game that the Warriors will play in Oakland. They're moving to a new arena in San Francisco next season. As for the Raptors, they hope it's the last game of the season because if they win tonight, they win the championship - their first ever.
Earlier this week, Brian Watt of member station KQED in San Francisco went to watch parties for fans of both teams.
BRIAN WATT, BYLINE: First, to Augie's Montreal Deli in Berkeley, right next to Oakland.
LEX GOPNIK-LEWINSKI: All you can eat poutine and smoked meat - $25. Come on in - $5 beers all night. We'll have a buffet set up. Let's go. We are the North.
WATT: Owner Lex Gopnik-Lewinski grew up in Toronto and went to university in Montreal. Poutine, for the uninitiated, is a Quebecois dish of french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. Though his menu is Canadian, Lex knows his fellow Raptors fans will bring their own Warriors fan friends with them.
GOPNIK-LEWINSKI: We're in the Bay Area. And we're Canadians. We're friendly fans. We're not going to rub it in anybody's faces. We're probably going to be even a little embarrassed if they end up pulling this thing off because we're a humble people by nature.
WATT: Nearly a million Canadians live in the U.S., with an estimated 100,000 in California. Another Toronto transplant, Raymond Graham (ph), is at Augie's with his beer buddy Jeremy Tiner (ph), a longtime Warriors fan. Raymond tries to explain just how humbling it's been to be a Raptors fan in the Bay Area.
RAYMOND GRAHAM: Toronto - they have a basketball team, really? Like, you know...
JEREMY TINER: That's new Warriors fans, though. Old Warriors fans would commiserate because we were both lousy teams for a really long time.
WATT: The big Game 5 watch party in Oakland Monday night was at Oracle Arena, the Warriors' current home. Thousands of Warriors fans went to watch on big screens. They breathed a giant sigh of relief when the Warriors pulled it out, guaranteeing one last game in Oakland.
KATHERINE HUBER: Of course.
UNIDENTIFIED WARRIORS FAN #1: Game 7.
UNIDENTIFIED WARRIORS FAN #2: Warriors.
UNIDENTIFIED WARRIORS FAN #1: Warriors.
HUBER: We are clutch. People worry. I've been a Warriors fan since way before we were good, and it's - always comes down to the last couple minutes.
WATT: Fan Katherine Huber (ph) was caught between the joy of the Warriors staying alive in the finals and the sadness that next season, her team is moving across the bay to San Francisco. She believes diehard fans in Oakland stuck with the Warriors in tough years and helped them grow into the team that's won three of the last four NBA championships.
HUBER: I feel like it's not going to be the real fans. It's going to be more of the San Francisco, you know, corporate, buy tickets, give it out to their employee type. I feel the real fans are in Oakland. I wish they could've stayed.
WATT: It's a tough blow, also, because Oakland is losing its pro football Raiders to Las Vegas. Nonetheless, Huber says she'll always be a Warriors fan. And for at least one more night, the Warriors are an Oakland team.
For NPR News, I'm Brian Watt in San Francisco. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.