The Streak That Makes the Case for the Warriors as America's Team

Now that we have discovered that the NBA's regular season lasts way too long for our attention spans, and on top of that is a lot less fun when our local team isn't de-limbing the opposition nightly, we can boil the next month and a half to three things:

  1. Whether the Warriors or Houston Rockets will have the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
  2. Whether the Warriors will gain maximum health and exemplary disciplinary records for those playoffs in hopes of making the top seed irrelevant to the greater goal.
  3. Whether they can become the first team in recorded NBA or NHL history to sell out every road game on the schedule. Not home. Road.

That last one wouldn't seem terribly important, though it does quantify something we already know – that the Warriors are a spectacle for all regions. But there are a lot of places in North America where the lure of professional sports is far less than here. Charlotte has sold out four games, and so has Phoenix. The Arizona Coyotes have sold out twice, the New York islanders once and the Florida Panthers none at all – in fact, the Panthers haven't sold out for two years running.

But the Warriors? Hell, you can't find a ticket when they come to town. They have sold out each of their last 66 road games, a staggering achievement that goes back 444 days to December 12, 2016 against Minnesota, on a night when the temperature was 1 degree Fahrenheit with patches of ice fog.

True, descendants of the Vikings who have the same access to alcohol as the rest of us should be used to such extremes, but it doesn't necessarily mean that they get used to it by piling into their cars for a night on the town. And even at that, the announced crowd of 18,452 frostbite victims was the Timberwolves' fourth largest crowd of the year behind sellouts for Chicago, Oklahoma City and, yes, the Warriors.

None of this means much in the grander scheme of things – it certainly doesn't win any more games or score many more points, though it does move jersey sales a tad. But when you consider that the second longest streak by any NBA or NHL team is seven games and 38 days, by of all people the Vegas Golden Knights, you get a broader perspective on what you already know.

That the Warriors are actually America's team now – and lots of people who go to see them don't particularly like them.

A lot of things go into a streak like this starting with the luck of the schedule, the number of teams you play that always sell out anyway, and the fact that teams routinely fudge their attendance figures because . . . well, because they can.

Still, 66 is nearly 10 times as much as anyone else has been able to manage, and while meaningless achievements like game results may come and go, the idea of being the first team ever to sell out both home and road is . . . well, let's just say it undermines the notion the Warriors are either despised or even not respected. You can't respect anyone more than spending your money to watch them do what they do.

The dangers in this streak are Friday, where the Hawks have always been an easy ticket, although they lowered their arena capacity from 19,049 to 15,711 this year to make things seem more commodious, and then two games in Phoenix, where the Suns stink on purpose and draw poorly. But one of those two games is during the height of spring training and will draw Bay Area fans who are down for the baseball, and the other is the last game of the season, when the team insults the fans one last time by "appreciating" them with gifts.

There is also Portland, where the Blazers are in playoff position and routinely gives the Warriors a difficult go; Minnesota, which has sold out more games this year than in the previous five years combined; San Antonio, Sacramento and Oklahoma City, which always sell out, and Indiana, which struggles to sell out not for Golden State.

In other words, the Warriors might indeed do this, which leaves only the relatively insignificant matters of staying healthy, not getting ejected en masse and winning a championship left in their in-box. As long as they understand their priorities, they should be okay.

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