OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- If you flip through the pages of a comic book, the gilded heroes often leap into reality. Flip, flip, flip. The pages fall between your hands, paper folds under the weight of your thumbs.
Flip, flip flip. One story after another floods your brain with the thoughts of a perfect world full of superheroes that will save everything as long as you call them.
Superman has the strength and a steel-plated moral compass. Batman is ultra-cool with gizmos and gadgets and power and money. Spider-Man is your dorky classmate who happens to fall into a life of great responsibility. And Iron Man is the ultra-cool ball of charisma that you're thankful to have on the good side.
For Dub Nation, comic books aren't the only vessels that hold the greatness of superheroes. Oracle Arena is like Marvel movie exploding under a metal roof, and inside it you find modern-day gods who save the Bay Area every game with strength, might, power, and great responsibility.
The gods are known as the Golden State Warriors, whose recent era of infallibility makes kids, parents, cousins, sisters, brothers, grandparents and even pets swell with pride and emotion every season.
For Warriors fans, a championship is never too far away, and a heroic moment can come at any point in the game (but lately, mostly in the third quarter.) They don't have to reach back into the back catalog of history or feel the pain of a decades-long drought. They don't have to go searching through crinkled yellow pages of dusty first editions.
Dub Nation's glory days are right in front of them, and they know it.
Driving into Oracle Arena for Game 2, I passed so many colorful characters: Fathers and sons jogging from the parking lot to the line outside the arena; fans in gold and blue blinged-out jackets waiting for players' arrivals; and even a man on a unicycle in a Warriors uniform bouncing a basketball.
I wanted to stop the car so badly, get out, and ask them all about why the Warriors mean so much to them -- but first I had to park
Preparing to cover a game like this requires some effort. You must have your stuff together. Phone, battery, equipment, extra chargers, an idea of what you want to do, and of course the nerves that course through you with each step.
Just like the players, the fans and press alike get nervous on the NBA's biggest stage. I mean, there are thousands of people in the stadium, millions of people watching at home, and then there's the international audience of people you'll never meet from around the globe watching every second of coverage.
It's enough to make you forget the score, and dribble the ball out with seconds to go or leave a press conference with my designer sunglasses and bag in a way so extra that it becomes a meme, a la LeBron James.
I started getting in my own head like JR Smith probably was during that now infamous dribble-out at the end of Game 1, when I heard a little voice call out, "SWAGGY!!!!"
It was a kid named Luke, who had driven up from Fresno with his friends and one of their dads to witness what he calls "greatness," also known as the NBA Finals. They were perched like birds on a wire, waiting for their heroes to arrive for their latest battle against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nick "Swaggy P" Young was driving through the gates to the player parking lot.
They described the energy in the arena as something "amazing" "incredible" and "indescribable" all words that you pull out of your brain when you're overwhelmed with joy.
"I can't wait to watch them play," said Luke, a young fan who was enjoying the arrivals with his buddies.
The group arrived early to see players roll up to their exclusive gate in their beautiful cars.
"We just saw Swaggy P, Steve Kerr, JaVale, ZaZa," Luke said with a smile as big as the Warriors' fan base stretching across his face.
They had been out there for hours, anticipating a run in with their heroes, larger than life figures that inspire them to greatness too.
"Do you guys play basketball?" I asked, adjusting my press credential on my neck.
"Oh yeah," the boys said in tandem, happy to be able to share their love for the game.
"It's my first NBA Finals game," Vince told me, repping the Warriors with a gray and gold hoodie. "So I'm excited."
"Steph Curry is my favorite player," said Luke, playing out his NBA press conference fantasy in front of the arena on my iPhone X. "He can shoot threes and that's what I do, shoot threes."
All the boys laughed and seemed to absorb the energy of The Finals as if they would be taking the court themselves.
"LeBron is a beast," said Luke. "I think LeBron needs to play with his team more in order to win."
The group agreed that it is a privilege to watch King James play, even though they're rooting for the Dubs to take another championship. But there is something special about watching a group of individual superstars work together to make something amazing happen, like the Avengers coming together to fight their greatest opponents.
When asked what superhero LeBron James would be, it didn't take more than a millisecond for one of the boys to shout, "He's the Incredible Hulk!"
"No, Thanos!" said Roman, the quietest kid in the bunch.
Thanos, of course, is the main villain in Marvel's latest Avengers movie, "Infinity War." If you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it for you, but the dude is bad news for the heroes. And if Game 1 is any indication of how LeBron James will perform in his 8th NBA Finals, he could make trouble down the road for the Dubs especially once the Cavaliers head home for Game 3.
As a fourth showdown with the perpetual Eastern Conference Champs continues, kids across the Bay Area just like Luke, Vince and Roman are hoping to see the Golden State heroes move mountains on the court. They did just that in Games 1 and 2, but there's still a long way to go.
No matter the outcome of the 2018 NBA Finals, one thing is clear -- fans have their own superheroes.
Stephen Curry, the actual Superman who wills the team to victory; Kevin Durant, Batman whose new-fangled playing style and power in the league has propelled him to MVP; Klay Thompson is Spiderman, everyone's favorite endearing goofball whose clutch 3-pointers and neverending passion for the game makes everyone feel optimistic; and Draymond Green is Iron Man, effortlessly stylish, a complete ball of charisma, someone who we couldn't imagine on any other team.
Every Warrior is an all-star fighting for truth, justice, and the Bay Area. Just like all the Avengers brings something unique to the fight against their opponents. And we couldn't be happier to witness their greatness.
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