SAN FRANCISCO — Chase Center, the brand new, state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena that is now home to the Golden State Warriors, made its NBA regular-season debut Thursday night.
The plush arena is equipped with all the sparkling bells and whistles you’d expect from a $1.6 billion project located near Pier 48 in San Francisco.
And one of the main attractions of the in-game experience is the 9,699-square-foot scoreboard, which is the largest in the league. It’s made up of 15 displays with 74,877 LEDs and 24,959,232 pixels for an optimum visual experience.
But even the massive screen couldn’t prevent fans from squinting in an attempt to recognize who was actually on the floor.
“Who in the hell are these players?” a season ticket-holder sitting in the 100-level shouted in the first quarter as the Los Angeles Clippers were annihilating the Warriors en route to a 141-122 rout to spoil Golden State’s luxurious house-warming party.
“I mean, that’s our job,” said Clippers star Kawhi Leonard about spoiling the Warriors’ night with 21 points, five rebounds and a career-high nine assists. “We all came in and played well. We wanted to win the game and keep our streak going.”
Identifiable were Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, prized pickup D’Angelo Russell and Kevon Looney. But beyond those players, some of the most diehard Warriors faithful were puzzled.
“Who is Steph playing with?” another fan asked while watching highlights at halftime on a TV in the concourse. The performance on the floor was similarly unrecognizable.
The game went off the rails early with the Warriors digging themselves into a 14-0 hole. And the player who made history by being the first Warrior to score a basket and the first to drain a triple inside of Chase Center wasn’t Curry.
It was Russell, who went on a personal 10-point run to end the Clippers’ early offensive blitz and isn’t connected to the three championships the franchise won in the previous five seasons.
“It doesn’t feel very good. Losing stinks,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s no fun. This is more of the reality of the NBA. The last five years we’ve been living in a world that isn’t supposed to exist. Five years basically, record-wise, the best stretch anybody has had over five years. This is reality.”
This was the reality the Warriors desperately wanted to avoid after abandoning Oracle Arena for a new venue. They had hoped for a star-studded team that featured Curry, Green, Klay Thompson (injured) and Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant. Ticket prices are up, but the current product doesn’t match the valuation.
And the diversity in the seats isn’t what it was in Oakland. The game also was called a sellout, but there were empty seats throughout the arena.
“This is not Oracle,” Clippers forward Maurice Harkless told Yahoo Sports. “At Oracle, it’s loud from the jump. Those fans brought it. It’s not the same here. Maybe it’s because how we played, but it’s not the same feel.”
To be fair, the Warriors never gave the fans much of a reason to get rowdy.
Curry was careless with the ball all night. In 30 minutes of play, his number of turnovers matched his field-goal total. He was 8-of-20 shooting and 2-of-11 from beyond the arc to finish with 23 points, four rebounds and four assists. He did not play in the fourth quarter.
At the end of the third quarter, the fans had seen enough. Droves of them headed for the exits as the Clippers were up 24 going into the final 12 minutes.
The Warriors lacked motivation, experience and talent, three negatives that might haunt the team all season. And to add insult to injury, with 4:06 remaining in the game, the Warriors received a technical for calling a timeout when they didn’t have one.
That’s how dejected the team was.
After the game, the defeated-looking Warriors slowly walked to the locker room with heads down, including the two-time MVP.
“It’s not a good feeling at all,” Curry said, “especially when you’re opening up in a new building.”
It was a complete debacle, and it’s reasonable to believe this could be the first of many outcomes like this for the Warriors this season.
“This is not a one-off,” Kerr said while also emphasizing the Warriors have nine players who are 23 or younger. “This is reality. There are going to be nights like this during the year.”
In the Clippers’ locker room, Patrick Beverley was having some fun with some of the arena staff workers who help tidy up the facility.
“Y’all a little different without KD, I see,” Beverley playfully jabbed. “Uh-huh, y’all cheated long enough. It’s OK. Y’all had a good run. Back to reality.”
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