For the sixth time in the last eight seasons, the Golden State Warriors are in the NBA Finals. The “Dubs” will play Game 1 against the Boston Celtics on Thursday, May 31, at Chase Center in San Francisco.
Win or lose the series, the Warriors are cemented in history as one of the great basketball dynasties. The team won titles in 2015, 2017, and 2018.
This year’s roster includes sure-fire future Hall of Famers in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, as well as the irascible talent that is Draymond Green. A series victory would help make up for a few down seasons that kept the Warriors out of the playoffs.
Sports fans in the Bay Area have been spoiled when it comes to their basketball team in recent years. In fact, you could argue the Warriors dynasty has come in a Golden Era of Bay Area sports (pun reluctantly acknowledged). Is it the absolute best time to be a Bay Area fan, though?
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Best Time To Be a San Francisco Bay Area Sports Fan
The Bay Area currently boasts four major professional sports teams: the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics in Major League Baseball, the San Francisco 49ers in the National Football League, and the Warriors. Previously the region also was home to the Oakland Raiders for a few stints, most recently in 2019, before the football team moved east to Las Vegas.
There have been several franchise shifts for SF Bay area teams: the Raiders left Oakland twice, the baseball Giants arrived in 1958 from New York, and the Athletics relocated to Oakland for the 1968 season. Even the Warriors have roots elsewhere – the franchise shifted to San Francisco prior to the 1962-63 season, moving from Philadelphia.
Here are the five best “years” (or corresponding team-seasons) to have been rooting for the teams in the San Francisco area and Oakland, going back to the late 1950s when the city finally achieved a second major pro franchise, the Giants, to go along with the oldest, the 49ers, who date back to 1946.
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2014-15 (Giants, Warriors)
It’s easy to forget that the San Francisco Giants never won a World Series in the 20th century, despite the presence of superstars such as Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey, Gaylord Perry, Bobby and Barry Bonds, and Will Clark. But the 21st century has been very good for the G-Men, albeit uneven.
The Giants won the World Series in 2010 (finally), then two years later accomplished it again. Like clockwork, the team won the Fall Classic again in an even year two years later in 2014. Each team was built around superior pitching and a Hall of Fame caliber catcher in Buster Posey. It didn’t seem to matter how the regular season went, those teams were built to win in the postseason. In 2014 the Giants were a second-place team, but advanced as a wild card, knocking off teams that were favored. In the World Series, lefty Madison Bumgarner pitched his way into the history books with performances that rank among the greatest in the history of the Fall Classic.
Warriors dynasty begins
While the baseball team was capping its dynasty with a third title in five seasons, the Warriors were forging a dynasty on the hardwood. In 2014-15, under first-year coach Steve Kerr, the Dubs improved by 16 games to 67 wins. In the NBA Finals the team won the last three games of the series to capture the title in six games. It was the Warriors first championship in four decades, and meant that Bay Area fans had celebrated two titles in the span of about seven months. Also in 2014, the A’s were a playoff team across the Bay in O-Town.
1974-75 (A’s, Warriors)
Titles matter, and that’s why we selected the 1974-75 overlapping seasons as No. 2 on this list.
On May 25, 1975, the Warriors won the NBA title after completing a sweep of the Washington Bullets. This was the team led by Hall of Fame forward Rick Barry, who averaged 30.6 points in the regular season, and 28.2 in the playoffs.
Seven months earlier in October, the 1974 MLB season concluded with the A’s capturing the World Series in workmanlike fashion by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games. The title was the A’s third consecutive, making them the first franchise to accomplish that feat since the 1949-53 Yankees.
Elsewhere in 1974, the Raiders advanced to the AFC title game, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers and missing out on going to the Super Bowl. At that time, the Raiders, Warriors, and A’s were all playing home games at the Oakland Coliseum, so within a seven-month span, the Coliseum hosted the World Series, NBA Finals, and an NFL Conference title game.
1989-90 (A’s, Giants, 49ers twice)
What’s better than having your area team in the World Series? How about having two in the Series? That’s what happened in 1989 when the Giants and A’s met in the Fall Classic in October. However, what was originally called “The Bay Bridge Series” or “The BART Series,” ended up getting a new nickname.
Moments before Game 3 of the World Series on October 17, 1989, the ground shook violently at Candlestick Park, sending the crowd into panic. It quickly became clear that a major earthquake had hit the Bay Area, causing massive damage and claiming lives. The Series was postponed for ten days, and when it was resumed the A’s finished off a dominant sweep of the Giants.
49ers became all-time greats
In January of 1989, the 49ers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 23, on a late-game scoring drive orchestrated by Joe Montana. Fast-forward to January, 1990, only about 11 weeks after the Giants and A’s met in the World Series, and the 49ers were back in the Super Bowl. The Niners cemented their status as the NFL’s “Team of the ’80s,” pounding the Broncos, 55-10. That team is still considered by many football experts to be the greatest in the Super Bowl era.
2018-19 (Warriors, 49ers)
In this stretch, the Warriors won a third title in four seasons (in a fourth straight trip to the Finals), and the 49ers made it back to the Super Bowl (for the 2019 season, playing in the game played in early 2020). Also, in both 2018 and 2019, the A’s were a playoff team.
2002 (Giants, Raiders, 49ers, A’s)
Only once has the Bay Area had four of its teams make the postseason in the same calendar seasons – 2002. That year, the Giants won the NL pennant, the A’s won the AL West, the 49ers won the NFC West (and a wild card playoff game), and the Oakland Raiders won the AFC West and advanced to Super Bowl 37, losing to the Baltimore Ravens.
Which season do you remember most as a Bay Area sports fan? Tell us in the comments section.
AP Photo/David J. Phillip