When Under Armour reached out to the Serra High School boys basketball team and asked for shoe sizes for their roster, players and coaches on the team weren’t sure what to expect besides a set of team sneakers.
It wouldn’t be until Jan. 3, when an Under Armour representative came to their high school, that Serra found out that they would be receiving much more than new shoes.
“They told us that there was this big event,” said Padres assistant coach Sean Dugoni. “He told us we’d be getting some new gear and get to meet Steph.”
Serra was one of 11 boys and girls basketball teams from all around the Bay Area to be invited to a party at the Fox Theatre in downtown Oakland to celebrate “10 in the Town” for Curry’s tenth and final season in Oakland.
In the fall of 2019, Curry and the Golden State Warriors will make their move back across the new Chase Center in SanFrancisco. Despite the massive outcry of disappointment from fans and Oakland residents, Curry invited over 2,800 fans for one last hoorah in a town that’s embraced him for a decade.
“It’s amazing that they’d do this,” said Serra athletic director Justin Ferdinand. “I only know the Warriors here in Oakland but the thing I’ve taken away from this is the real community feel … It speaks volumes about Steph and Under Armour.”
On New Year’s Day, Curry took to Instagram to announce that he was holding upscale block party on Friday, Jan. 4, inviting any and all Warriors fans to attend the marquee event. Part of the process to gain access required fans to show up at the SC30pop-up shop on 9th St. in downtown Oakland to receive free tickets. Without tickets, access to the venue was not granted.
After a mixup on Wednesday afternoon, in which thousands of fans lined up for blocks for tickets that simply were not there, many of the same fans returned on Thursday when the tickets had arrived. Some fans arrived as early as 6 a.m., calling in sick to work, to pick up their passes for what they called “a once in a lifetime event.”
“I got there at 7 a.m.,” said Oakland native Hunter Graham. “It actually wasn’t too bad. I brought a friend with me so were able to just hang out and talk to other fans and whatnot.”
According to Graham, the environment around the pop-up shop reflected the idea behind the party itself: reflection and gratitude. While Curry aimed to extend a message of thank you to the city of Oakland, fans looked to reciprocate that sentiment.
In Serra’s case, the nearly 12 hours of waiting in line wasn’t necessary. Instead, the day after being told they were attending the event as VIP guests, an Under Armour bus arrived on their campus, full of gear for the team.
“When the bus pulled up, they were super excited,” Ferdinand said. “It’s 2019 so everything was going up on Instagram andSnapchat. You could just tell that it was a very special and cool moment for them.”
Arriving an hour before the attending public, who started lining up at 5 a.m., Serra and the other 10 high school teams got to meet Curry personally. Each athlete was also given a pair of Curry 6’s — his sixth signature sneaker.
“We got to see him down there and take some pictures with him,” said Padres point guard Parker McDonald. “This whole thing is awesome. It’s pretty sweet… It’s nice to feel appreciated especially by someone so predominant like Stephen Curry.We all look up to Steph and for him to recognize our school, it means a lot.”
At the party, Curry featured several high profile musical guests from the Bay Area, including E-40 and Mistah Fab. The event was also MC’d by MTV broadcast journalist and Bay Area native Sway Calloway and Warriors in-arena host Ruby Lopez.
Before the musical entertainment began, Curry addressed the Fox Theatre crowd, which met the venue’s maximum capacity of 2,800 people.
“I’m not from Oakland,” Curry said. “In 2009 I was drafted to come here to the Bay Area and play for Oakland. And the same type of energy that I feel in this building is the same type of energy that I felt coming off of that plane that very first time.That love has continued to grow every year for the last 10 years.”
While Curry and the Warriors may only be moving across the Bay Bridge, 17 miles away from Oracle Arena, some fans feel a sense of betrayal.
“It sucks, man. It really does.” Graham, 19, said. “Oakland and the Warriors are synonymous for me and in a few months they won’t be, all of a sudden.”
Some of those feelings are even felt by the Padres, whose high school in San Mateo will actually be closer to the Warriors after the move.
“My dad is from Oakland and my family lives in Oakland,” McDonald said. “They’re not too happy about it. It’s going to be a nicer stadium and whatnot but the Warriors are from Oakland. There’s no changing that.”
Regardless of the inevitable change that the Warriors and their ever-growing fan base are preparing to face, Jan. 4 at the theatre provided a chance for Curry and the city of Oakland show their gratitude towards one and other.
“For him to throw this kind of event and show out for these kids, it’s amazing,” Dugoni said. “They’ll have this forever.”