It’s about time. Long overdue. FINALLY.
Such was the sentiment of hundreds of thousands of Warriors fans who flocked to the streets of Oakland as early as 5 a.m. today to catch a glimpse of the much-awaited parade to celebrate the team’s first NBA Championship in 40 years.
The crowd chanted “MVP! MVP! MVP!” as Stephen Curry clutched the NBA Championship trophy atop a double decker bus splashed with gold and blue, team colors of the Warriors that defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers for the championship Tuesday night.
At the back of the same bus with Curry was Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, holding up his own trophy while the crowd roared with excitement. Confetti streamed into the sky, leaving a puddle of small streamers in the streets as the parade wove up Broadway to West Grand Avenue and down to Lakeside.
Elected officials, including Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, also appeared in the parade. Fans flooded the parade sidelines as the sea of blue and gold spilled out along Lake Merritt.
But the celebration was not entirely a slam dunk. Just after noon, three people were shot in the 1800 block of Lakeshore Avenue, just blocks from the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center where a rally was scheduled after the parade.
The condition of the victims was not immediately available this afternoon, nor was it known what connection the incident had to the parade.
The shooting, however, did not interrupt the festivities. Warriors players, fans and parade participants alike agreed the celebration in Oakland was decades in the making.
“This community deserves this moment,” Newsom told the Examiner after the parade. “They deserve this energy and this sense of spirit and pride that comes with this season and this week’s victory.”
Sporting blue and gold, lifelong Warriors fan John Orille, 32, beamed in the crowd before the parade.
“I was so happy [when they won the championship],” Orille said. “It was time.”
Orille noted that the Warriors are among the few regional sports teams to attract residents from all over the Bay Area.
“Whether you’re from San Francisco or Oakland, or down in San Jose, or up north, everybody roots for the Warriors here,” he said.
And root for the Warriors in deed. A sea of fans stood neck-to-neck under warm, sunny skies along Lake Merritt Boulevard where a rally at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center followed the parade.
After hearing remarks from Warriors officials including President and COO Rick Welts, and owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, head coach Steve Kerr took the stage and offered a comedic moment, delivering modest yet poignant words to his team.
“About a year ago I got this job…but I took a look at the roster and I thought, ‘Man, I got a big job on my hands. Not much talent. Very little shooting. Not much versatility. The defense was suspect. More than anything, just shaky territory.’” Behind him, the players couldn’t hold back their laughter.
Kerr went on to list the impressive feats of the team that won 67 games followed by the first Warriors championship since 1975.
“We did it – we did it!” Stephen Curry, MVP of the league and widely considered the star player of the team, said during his time at the podium. Curry wrapped up speeches by other players including Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Iguodala, and at one point during his speech hoisted his beloved daughter Riley Curry up to the podium.
“I can’t say how important it is and how beautiful it is to see all this blue and yellow in the fans out here supporting us,” Curry said as the audience cheered him on. “I’m so excited to be a part of this group. It’s been a long journey … I remember six years ago when I was drafted, I lived right here on Lake Merritt. I could walk around and not be recognized.
“Now we’re world champs.”
Bay City News Service contributed to this report.