‘The soul of our team comes from Oakland’

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The Golden State Warriors reside in San Francisco now, but for many of the players and coaches who brought championships to the Bay Area in recent years, the connection to Oakland — the city where the team played for 47 years and recently went to five straight NBA Finals inside Oracle Arena — remains stronger than ever. Those roots were clear as Warriors personnel discussed what it meant to them to be wearing their new “Oakland Forever” jerseys — with Oakland emblazoned across their chest — which will debut during Wednesday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.

“That’s fire,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said during a video conference with reporters after Monday night’s win at the Los Angeles Lakers. “You know, I rock with Oakland; that’s my second home. The soul of our team comes from Oakland. That’s just kind of what it is. The soul of this organization is built in Oakland; that’s just the reality.”

The jerseys, which the “We Believe” Warriors made famous during a 2007 playoff run, are blue with Oakland in gold lettering with an orange outline. They are part of the City Edition collection that Nike puts together each year throughout the league.

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“I love the jerseys,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after Tuesday’s practice. “I think they’re really good-looking, and the fact that they say Oakland on them is just awesome. I will forever have five years of incredible memories of playing at Oracle and practicing in Oakland every day at our facility, living in the East Bay.

“Those guys are right: Oakland will forever be a huge part of our identity and our roots. We’re a Bay Area team. Obviously, the team played in San Francisco before they played in Oakland, and so we take a lot of pride in representing the entire Bay. But Oakland will always have a special place in our hearts.”

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The Warriors moved into their new home, Chase Center in San Francisco, prior to the 2019-20 season. While staff members understood the relocation, given the massive revenue possibilities in the sparkling new building that cost over $1 billion to build, it was tough for many to leave the East Bay because of their affinity for the community they grew to call home.

For Warriors star Stephen Curry, the jerseys are a reminder of his NBA beginning. The Warriors took the Davidson product with the seventh pick in the 2009 NBA draft, making him the last player on the current roster to have worn the ‘We Believe’ jersey during his initial season in the league.

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“They were fire,” Curry said Monday night, in this case referring to what those unis were made of. “But that was the old material; they were heavy as hell. That was the one thing I do remember; you put those on, versus how they make them now, it’s night and day. But the look, it’s just so classic. When you think of old school, you think of this franchise, Oakland, the expression of what we were, those jerseys are front and center, front of mind.”

The Warriors wore the white version of the “We Believe” jerseys during the final regular-season game at Oracle Arena during the 2018-19 season, but this will be the first time the group can wear a jersey that actually says Oakland on it.

“Last time we wore them, the last regular season game in ’19 at Oracle, it was just an amazing moment to bring those back,” Curry said. “Obviously, to have Oakland across the chest now, it’s special. We have a lot of great memories there on that side of the [Bay] Bridge. Pay respect to that era of Warrior basketball. And it’s obviously special for me because my rookie year; I was the only one on this team that wore ’em, so it’s pretty special.”

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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