By BRANDON GRANAADA —
As the Golden State Warriors’ starting point guard and NBA MVP Stephen Curry grabbed a rebound ensuring his side’s victory last June, confetti rained down upon the arena. Just like that the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers and ended their 40-year NBA title drought.
Mitchell Gaiser, a 19-year-old from Burlingame, California, hadn’t been born the last time the Warriors won a championship. Understanding that he very well could have to wait another 40 years for the next title, Gaiser was determined to attend the Warriors’ victory parade, which included players, team management, and the national championship Larry O’Brien Trophy.
With the parade scheduled for 10 a.m., Gaiser and three friends found themselves squeezing onto a packed Bay Area Rapid Transit train. The Claremont McKenna College sophomore and engineering major described the scene as “surreal,” and an example of “the immense pride felt by the Bay Area.”
Arriving in Oakland an hour before the parade, he swam through a sea of what ABC7 San Francisco called nearly 1 million Warriors supporters, angling for the best view of the parade. “We could hardly move, yet we loved every minute of it,” said his friend Chris Brownlow, a lifelong Warriors fan and California State University, Fullerton student who attended the parade with him.
Gaiser admits the parade started off slowly, an opportunity for Warriors staff and select fans to experience the parade firsthand. He contemplated leaving on multiple occasions to enter the Warriors Team Store or watch street acts perform. Yet he was compelled to stay.
The wait proved worth it as Klay Thompson, the team’s starting shooting guard and a NBA all-star, rounded the corner atop a charter bus. In that moment years of fandom, of supporting a perennial cellar-dweller, were vindicated. Gaiser remembered Draymond Green’s block of Lebron James a week earlier, Baron Davis’ dunk on Andrei Kirilenko, and the Warriors upset of the Mavericks in the 2008 Playoffs. All paled in comparison to this moment. The Warriors were parading around as world champions, and he was experiencing it alongside three of his best friends.
Reflecting on the parade, Gaiser said his favorite moment was when Leandro Barbosa, the team’s backup shooting guard, pointed at him. While these events will forever be etched in his mind, he still believes the best part of the day was celebrating with friends who had waited as long as him for this moment.
The trophy is locked away and the confetti has long since been cleaned up, but Gaiser still smiles as he talks about his first, and what he hopes won’t be his last, Warriors championship parade.
(Written by Brandon Granaada, edited by Terril Y. Jones; Sept. 17, 2015)