Yellow shirts are back! #WeBelieve’s founder chimes in
Yes, Paul Wong! + the irony of it being vs the Mavs
The yellow shirts are back! The yellow shirts are back! At around 9pm PDT on the eve of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the visiting Dallas Mavericks and the Golden State Warriors, the official Chase Center Instagram account posted an IG Reel showing lower bowl seats each adorned with a yellow shirt. The freeze frame of the end of the tease is this…
…and the caption was this: “It’s time 💛”
It’s pretty clear to me that those garments in the still shot are certainly bigger than the Memphis Grizzlies hand towels we saw in photos of FedEx Forum, so with all the evidence provided to me, I conclude there is zero doubt the yellow shirts are back (!).
Was this the result of fervor in the comments of the Warriors’ and Chase Center’s IG posts over the last two rounds of playoffs? Or was this planned from the get-go? Or perhaps was the irony of the Mavs as our current foe too good to pass up by the GSW powers-that-be, especially maybe someone like COO Brandon Schneider, who was there for the “We Believe” run? I’ll let the reporters getting W-2s from the newspapers and TV stations dig around for those facts.
Meantime I immediately called up Paul Wong, founder of the 2007 “We Believe” movement, to rewind the clock and refresh my memory on the genesis of the yellow playoff shirts. Again, I’m a YouTuber not a writer, so I’m going to keep this as a bit of a stream-of-consciousness rant and I’m not including any quotes because it was a casual conversation between friends who were reminiscing, not an interview per se. Someone should get Wong in newspaper print or on an old school TV station as part of this new yellow shirts news.
I’d love to have Paul on our YouTube channel’s game commentary “second screen” livestream, but he’s usually at the games cheering the team on. He tells me he’s very superstitious and thinks the Warriors will lose unless he (sans green face paint, however) and his wife attend the playoff games. He even brought this “It ends tonight” follow-up sign to the original “We believe playoff” one, to Chase last Friday for Game 6 against the Grizz — check out my G6 video for the close-ups, sights and sounds. Unfortunately, not a lot of people at Chase knew Paul’s sign was from the We Believe run. Sigh.
First, a bit of a timeline refresher. The 2006-07 Warriors had to go on a winning streak at the end of the season to make the playoffs as the 8th-seed, up against the 67-win No. 1 Mavericks. All of that is obviously well-documented, so I don’t need to rehash more. Wong tells me he’d been bringing his famed “We believe playoff” placard to games for a good two months before the Dubs actually made the playoffs that year.
He distinctly remembers after a game at Sacramento, the Warriors game ops guys led by Brett Yamaguchi, of course (fyi he’s no longer the game ops guy at Chase), met up with Wong at his restaurant and asked for permission to put the “We Believe” slogan on t-shirts.
I’m told the exact words from Yamaguchi were, “If we make the playoffs…” at which point Wong interrupted to say, “When we make the playoffs!”
Paul gave them one condition: that the shirts be given to the fans for free. He thought if he (or anyone) were to profit off of “We Believe”, it would be bad karma and destroy the magic of how it came to be and, well, the belief itself! Sure enough, it worked, at least against the Mavs. Anyways, thanks Paul. You’re a legend.
And so it was written.
[Smoking gun UPDATE six hours after I first published this post: I’m now told the following by a source close to game ops, so forget the next paragraph below this and the two under the picture further below: “They didn't think far enough ahead and couldn't reserve enough yellow shirts to print in time for earlier rounds.”]
I can understand why GSW brass had decided on the black shirts this time around. My guess is they wanted Chase to have its own identity and consciously rejected the yellow shirts. Nothing will ever be as special as Oracle Arena, so leave that in the past and come up with something new.
But then again, some things weren’t left in the past. Game ops still plays Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” after every win. Franco Finn is still the hype man. DJ D-Sharp is still the main DJ. Anything else I missed? Okay, maybe those three things are the last vestiges of Oracle.
There have definitely been complaints in the comments about not having yellow shirts. Long-time Warriors fan @meajor sent me a sampling of the outrage…
Maybe GSW/Chase brass read the comments over the past few weeks. Maybe they saw that hardly any fans were actually wearing the black tees and a splattering of them actually wore old yellow playoff ones. Or maybe the plan all along was to re-introduce the yellow ones for the WCF.
Or maybe game ops just wanted to have the yellow ones as an ace-in-the-hole. Given the struggles our squad has had in first quarters, wouldn’t it be an elite mental boost for Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Steve Kerr, Bruce Fraser, Chris DeMarco, Rick Celebrini, Jacob Rubin, Eric Housen and anybody else I forgot who was there for Oracle playoff games, to see Chase-goers donning the yellow? That’ll light a fire under ya!
I sure hope this crop of new fans at Chase actually wears the yellow shirts. I do recall it took awhile for everyone (nearly) to wear the yellow ones back during We Believe. Just study some of the pics above at the top of this article or do a search on “Oracle Arena Baron Davis Game 3” on the Getty website. I’d say there was a yellow-shirt-donning rate of 85%. I’m pretty sure it got past 90% in the 2013 playoff run, iirc. I could be wrong — search Getty on “warriors Denver nuggets game 3 2013” if you want to compare.
Btw it was nice to see another old-timer Tony Robles come up in the search for pics (credit: Getty Images, obviously) from the We Believe era. This is from Game 3, our first home playoff game in eons at the time, versus the Mavs in 2007. Man, they went the extra mile with the placards, too. Back then, I believe — no pun intended — that Oracle Arena workers handed out the t-shirts from cardboard boxes upon entry. You can see Robles’ shirt is sling over his shoulder.
I’ll have to check with Yamaguchi if the We Believe run spawned the playoff t-shirt phenomenon in the NBA, but it’s become such a science now. You get the workers to lay the shirts on each seat the night before, nowadays. I doubt there will be placards on each seat, which is kind of repetitive if you think about it; if the arena is already drowned in yellow shirts, it’s harder to see the same-colored placards.
Tangent: At least we haven’t succumbed to the cardboard noisemakers they used to have waiting for fans at each seat at OKC (now Paycom Center, fka Chesapeake Energy Arena), where there was a distinct home-court advantage back in their Kevin Durant era. I always thought that was cheating in terms of increasing the arena’s decibels, but I digress. I’d love for the NBA to include a decibel meter at Chase Center at some point, but then again I’m tired of comparing to Oracle. As Moses Moody recently said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” (Btw Moody credited Rich Paul for that.)
Final hot take: I originally wanted the yellow shirts from the get-go, but upon further reflection and true to my admittedly contrarian ways, I’m from the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” camp, plus a bit superstitious as well. So I would have liked to have saved the yellow shirts for an elimination (or similar) game situation, but I guess we still have changing the player intro theme song back to “California Love Remix” as our ace-in-the-hole, right?