Golden State Warriors or San Francisco Warriors?


With the impending move to the city by the bay, one question lingers for the Golden State Warriors and its fans; does the team go back to being called the San Francisco Warriors? Look at that again. One more time. That is a real possibility.

December 2, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates after the game against the Orlando Magic at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Magic 98-97. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors, a franchise that played in San Francisco from 1962-1971, are on schedule to open a new arena there in time for the 2018-19 season. But is a name change really necessary? Does it enhance the brand of the team? Is this what the majority of fans want?

The real answer lies within the customer base. Ultimately, fans that attend games, buy merchandise and keep the television ratings up are the NBA’s customers. Teams have to market themselves to the public in a way that attracts people who are current fans as well as future ones.

Some fans follow a team because of upbringing. Others follow a team based on a specific player on that team. Either way, the team always has to look for the right way to brand itself. Take for instance the San Francisco Giants. They don’t have an outspoken star that even remotely desires the limelight, so they choose to market the team aspect as: “Together We’re Giant.”

The Warriors have two main stars in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. They don’t seem to desire the spotlight either, but they really have no choice in the media-starved NBA. The team is playing well, the ownership hasn’t had a misstep in a while, and the entire Bay Area is getting more and more interested.

Could the omission of the “Golden State” around the logo be a sign of a future name change? Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

But why take away a regional name in favor of a city? Were the California Angels less marketable than the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim? Did we actually watch the Santa Clara 49ers this year? (That one may be true) The point here is that once a team establishes itself in a market, whether by success or longevity, it gets harder to make drastic changes.

The franchise has earned three NBA championships, two as the Philadelphia Warriors and one as Golden State. Ironically, they won that third championship in their former home of the Cow Palace located in Daly City, just south of San Francisco. The Oakland Coliseum had pre-booked an event for that period, not thinking the Warriors had a chance of playing that week.

Maybe to some Bay Area fans, since the Warriors won that championship as Golden State, that should cement that name. Maybe the fans like the “middle of the road” that the name follows. A San Francisco 49ers/Giants fan can like the Warriors just as much as an Oakland A’s/Oakland Raiders fan. But slap an Oakland on the front of a Warriors jersey, and you may have some backlash. There are many fans of so-called crosstown teams. But Golden State just allows everybody to get along.

What if you are a fan that follows the San Francisco teams exclusively? Would you love the Warriors any more than you do currently? Would an Oakland fan stop watching? For the hard-core fans, there might be little to no reaction. They just want to see the team go out and play hard. But the change of name would be mainly for marketing purposes, so why do it? One would think that the Golden State name would open the team up to more fans than defining it by a city’s name.

Perhaps the name change is irrelevant, and the successes on the court will trump any anger surrounding a change. As a fan, you do have a voice in the matter as the team would like to know what the majority of the fans think. The team has set up for customer feedback on its website.

Next: Predicting the Warriors' All-Stars