Basketball

Sights & sounds: Warriors’ fans praised

As the Golden State Warriors continue to take prominence nationally, their fans have received more attention.

For most of the past four decades, they’ve endured losing seasons, bad draft choices and numerous coaching changes.

But their loyalty has never been questioned. That hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Warriors as the team reached the NBA Finals for the first time since 1975 and Oracle Arena has been recognized as one of the loudest buildings in the NBA.

“Oakland deserves a winner,” said Warriors guard Klay Thompson. “They’re some of the best fans I’ve ever seen. They show up every night. My rookie year (2011-12), we were 23-43 and we sold out almost every night. To be in this position is awesome.”

Cleveland foward LeBron James has had his share of good games at Oracle and loves the atmosphere.

“It’s a great fan base here,” James said. “They know the game of basketball. They know so much history of the game. They’ve had so many greats come in here either from opponents or their respective team. I just try to be remembered when I’m in this building at the end of the day.”

Kings minority owner and NBA TV/TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal was asked to compare the noise at Oracle Arena during the NBA Finals and Arco Arena when his Lakers played the Kings in the Western Conference finals in 2002.

“I watched one of the Warriors’ games at home, and I thought they were pumping in extra noise,” he said, “but then I was here in the building the other night, and it was really loud. I don’t want to say Arco was louder, but it was. They would bring all those cowbells and everything ... yeah, Arco was louder.”

Interestingly, Shaq was wearing the championship ring he earned after the Miami Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks in 2006.

“I wear this one because that’s the one (title) that everybody said we weren’t going to win,” he explained.

Electric rehearsal – Carlos Santana entertained a small group of reporters, league officials and Oracle Arena employees when he practiced his guitar version of the national anthem about 2 1/2 hours before tipoff of Game 2.

Interestingly, several Warriors and Cavs who had arrived for early

warmups were asked to clear the court for the 10-15 minute “concert.” No complaints, though. This was Santana.

One of those using his cellphone to videotape the session was former Kings swingman Jim Jackson, an analyst for Fox Sports in the Midwest.

“Pretty cool,” Jackson said.

Star gazing – One of the Warriors’ biggest celebrity supporters has long been famed comedian Dave Chappelle. He routinely attends Warrior games, unlike some celebrities who jumped on the bandwagon.

Chappelle was at Game 2 and sheepishly put down his beer to acknowledge cheers from the crowd when shown on the in-house monitor.

Former Warriors guard Baron Davis also drew plenty of cheers. Davis started at point guard for the “We Believe” Warriors who upset the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round as the eighth seed in 2007.

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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