If you always wanted to — but never could — love America, root for the Warriors
Sports are funny. They are, mostly, a distraction, an attention cul-de-sac where we as a culture pour vast quantities of time, talent, brainpower and cold hard cash for what comes to little more than a vicarious adrenaline rush for most.
Sometimes teams, people, numbers or split seconds of instinct can transcend, well, everything.
Think of what Brandi Chastain meant to a generation of young women,
on and off the soccer pitch. The fierce competitiveness, her unapologetic drive and relentless pursuit are reflected not only in the current US women’s soccer team, but in all the (now adult) women for whom she was an icon. There’s maybe even a sociology dissertation or two in tying her iconic, clothes-rending celebration to the bare-chested protest of FEMEN,
but I digress.
Right, the Warriors.
Sure, they — and Mr. Curry in particular — are engaged in a kind of basketball hyperbole that makes even the layperson pay rapt attention,
but there’s something larger at work, too.
Let me start by admitting some bias: I’m a light-skinned Black man born in San Francisco (it’s true! we exist!), so this may be a little closer to my heart than for some of you.
But I can’t help thinking there’s something special about a team of Black, white and mixed “warriors” — just about the only reference to First Nations in contemporary sport that isn’t wildly or subtly awful — playing such a joyous, unselfish and free-flowing game; being coached by a successful white man and an inheritor of generational wealth who, rather than stifle the creativity and free expression of these young men, have actively encouraged it, and to great success.
I can’t help seeing that, in an ever-more-divided and divisive Bay Area,
the Warriors seem to be the only thing connecting Uber drivers and
Uber passengers, transplants (or gentrifiers, as required by your level
of ire/displacement) and locals. Even the name of the team, rather than centering all-powerful San Francisco, welcomes the whole North into
its golden state.
My father, another born San Franciscan, living in the Middle East tells
me the only thing that stops international bafflement about American politics and you-know-who is the jaw-dropping, Black React-able exploits
of Steph & Co.
That’s essentially the meat of it: a lie can get halfway around the world while the truth is tying its shoes, but the only thing faster than falsehood is joy. And it is joy — transcendent, cooperative, damn-near-unstoppable joy — that we’re talking about when we talk about the Warriors.
It is a joy born of the acceptance of individuals as who they are, marshaling the pursuit of their best selves through teamwork tested by competition and a satisfaction in collective effort founded on mutual love and respect.
It’s working in America, so who’s to say it wouldn’t work in America?
You could say we’ve all got choices.