The life of a sports fan can resemble the business cycle. There are ups, downs, peaks, and valleys. A sports season can be hard to predict but exciting at the same time. Some fans show their true devotion to a team by sticking around for both the peaks and valleys, and some become frustrated during the downturns.
The Golden State Warriors‘ history has been somewhat cyclical too. The valleys of the Warriors franchise have more depth and length than in a traditional cycle, and there have been less peaks. However, Warriors fans are experiencing a Mount Everest type of peak right now.
Dub Nation is currently witnessing one of the best Warriors teams in franchise history. This team continues to set records, exceed expectations, and blow fans away with their high level of execution, talent, and entertainment. The team on the court and the interest in the team off the court are at all-time highs right now.
Justin Taylor, Warriors superfan and founder of the Trapped in Golden State blog and the Warriors apparel line Made in Golden State, is one of many diehard Warriors fans who has lived through the pain of the bad years and has thoroughly enjoyed the excitement during the past few seasons. He knows how special this season has been for the Warriors, which has helped erase the pain he has suffered through his lifetime as a Warriors fan.
Although the life of a sports fan can be cyclical, Justin’s passion for the team hasn’t changed. His first real memory is waking up to the roaring crowd at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena at the age of four. Ever since then, he’s been “hooked for life,” and his deep love for this team has not wavered.
He wrote his first blog post on Trapped in Golden State on March 28th, 2012. He credits the creation of the blog and the respective social media outlets to his wife, who believed he was some type of masochist, since he would schedule his life around Warriors games and then proceed to be miserable watching such a poor team.
Justin created Trapped in Golden State to engage and entertain fans, bond over the suffering, and provide a distraction from the pain. It also served as a place to “praise the faithful fans who were underserved and call out upper management for causing all the heartache.” This is a segment from his first blog post on Trapped in Golden State:
Today is the inaugural entry in a blog that has been a lifetime in the making. I have received a ton of encouragement to do this mostly from people who are tired of hearing me talking about the Warriors year in year out. The title, Trapped in Golden State, stems from the fact that if you’ve been a Warriors fan as long as I have you’re definitely not doing it voluntarily…
I think one of the driving forces in keeping me tuned in and ultimately starting a blog is because misery loves company. So this is for the die hards and hopefully a few casuals who want to understand the masochist mentality of said die-hards.
When he created Trapped in Golden State and starting making Warriors-related apparel, he came to the realization that he was able to combine everything he loved in one place. As a professionally trained graphic designer, he was able to create his own designs, instead of working on others’ designs, and sell merchandise that reflects his passion for the Warriors and their fans.
Given the Warriors’ recent success though, Justin decided to make a change. He wanted to devote more time to selling merchandise, since he had less time to write, so he decided to create “Made in Golden State,” a site where fans can purchase various types of Warriors apparel that he has designed. He explained that it was hard to explain to fans the “trapped” part of the name, as the Warriors became one of the most fun teams to watch in the NBA.Photo Courtesy Justin Taylor
“The fact of the matter is I haven’t felt ‘trapped’ since Joe Lacob bought the team,” Justin explained. “We’ve been liberated in Golden State.”
Trapped. Now liberated. A perfect description of how far the Warriors have come and how Warriors fans feel now after years of disappointment and agony.
Justin is also a San Francisco 49ers and San Francisco Giants fan, but his deep love for basketball and his bond with other fans keep him hooked on the Warriors. His love for the fan base is so deep that he said it’s even more special when the cycle continues and a fan returns the love by buying his merchandise.
“I’ve always been proud just to be a Warriors fan, even in the darkest of times, and now it’s taken on a whole new life,” he said. “The love I’ve received from fans who came up before I did, in the same era as I did, and even in the younger generations has been unbelievable. My appreciation for the fan base runs so deep that it’s an amazing feeling when the sentiment comes back my way.”
Justin has been a diehard Warriors fan ever since he can remember. He’s been there through the darkest times, and his love for the team and the fan base, even the bandwagoners, is constantly growing.
“Warriors fans who lived and died and died some more through all of that wore all of those epic failures like a badge of honor,” he proclaimed. “The new fans don’t have the baggage, but they also can’t match the appreciation for what has been happening, whether they realize it or not. New fans come with expectations of success and even greatness, where existing fans have appreciation and guarded optimism. We’ve seen one injury derail entire seasons, let alone a playoff series.
“As for the bandwagon…bring it. No need to complain about it. That’s what elite status brings. Just one word of advice to the new fans. Do a quick background check on the team, but don’t pretend you’ve been here longer than you have. It is so apparent right from the jump when you’re talking to a loyal fan or a new fan, whether it’s in person or online.”
Warriors fans are often called the best fans in the NBA, but Justin believes that they can be called the best fans in sports. Not only is their knowledge of the game and their loyalty and longevity as fans amazing, but he says that Warriors fans also have a unique quality that is unmatched in sports.
“A unique thing that can’t be matched almost anywhere else in the country and what I think gives us the title of best fans in any sport is the unity and diversity on display at every single game,” he revealed. “It’s more than just the generations of fans coming together. The Warriors are the one thing that Raiders, Niners, Giants, A’s, Sharks, Stanford, Cal and countless other teams’ fans have in common.
“Whether you’re black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, rich, poor, North Bay, East Bay, San Jose to San Francisco, the Warriors have always been your team, and that is a beautiful thing. If Warriors fandom is a microcosm of life in the Bay Area and everyone acknowledges that this is one of the best places in the world to live…you do the math.”
Best fans in the NBA for the best team in the NBA. This year, the Warriors owned the best record in the NBA for almost the entire season, and many fans are hoping this Warriors team will bring the first NBA championship to the Bay Area since the 1974-75 Warriors team. Justin believes the Warriors are built to win a championship, now and in the future.Photo Courtesy Justin Taylor
“The window is wide open for us to win it all this year, and you can never guarantee it’ll be open for you again in the future,” he admitted. “Just ask that ‘76 team that had a chance to go back to back, fell short, and never came close again. However, I do have the confidence in this management group to keep building towards being contenders throughout Curry’s prime.”
Unlike in the past, he now has faith in the Warriors’ front office and the team in general because of the actions of Joe Lacob and Bob Myers but also the elevated play of NBA superstar, Stephen Curry.
Justin has seen it all as a Warriors fan. He suffered through the dark days of the Warriors and he’s felt the pain that’s common in the typical fan life cycle, but he also fully understands how lucky Warriors fans are to watch Curry work on a nightly basis. He claims that Curry has “ascended to greatest Warrior of my lifetime” and that “it’s not even close.” There’s beauty in Curry’s game, and Justin is sometimes baffled by Curry’s mastery.
“Stephen Curry is like gravity on the basketball court,” he illustrated. “Nobody in the history of the game has drawn as much attention as he does when they take their first step over the halfcourt line. Being a MVP is about making your teammates better as much as it is about your individual stats and his presence alone makes everyone on the floor a threat.Photo Courtesy Justin Taylor
“There has been a lot of debate for the sake of debate about who the MVP will be, but it’s been Steph the whole time and the vote isn’t going to be as close as advertised. It’s going to be a landslide.”
Watching Curry play in person should be on everyone’s bucket list, as he’s easily the most entertaining player in the NBA right now. He’s a fan favorite, but Justin loves a lot of the other Warriors players (and front office members) too.
He said out of everyone in the Warriors organization, he’d love to talk to Lacob, Myers, and Steve Kerr for what they’ve done for the franchise. However, for the players, he’d love to talk to Curry, Draymond Green, and Andrew Bogut. He equates his own personality and dry sense of humor to Bogut’s, and he also believes that Green is the current fan favorite, even over Curry.
“Draymond Green was the biggest fan favorite since Sarunas Marciulionis. He isn’t the number one, two or even three guy, but he’s someone fans love unconditionally,” Justin explained. “He went from fan favorite, to legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and maybe top five on my list of favorite Warriors of my lifetime in less than a year.”
What about one of the other faces of the Warriors right now? Klay Thompson? Oh, Justin mentioned him too. He gave Thompson the award for his favorite Warriors moment of this season.Photo Courtesy Justin Taylor
“Klay’s 37-point quarter was the best 10 minutes of basketball by a single player I’ve ever witnessed,” he proclaimed. “I’ll never forget that for the rest of my life.”
His favorite game in Warriors history though? It wasn’t one from this historic season, surprisingly.
“The best game for me was Game Six of We Believe vs. Dallas,” he described. “It seemed like everyone was at their seats, standing up, chanting ‘Lets Go Warriors!’ 45 minutes before tipoff and never stopped until the final buzzer sounded. The atmosphere during that run was truly special.”
Justin has witnessed the Warriors go through the peaks and the valleys over the years, but it has all led up to this historical season. Every team has to go through a transformation process to become a title contender, and fans experience a similar cycle of emotions during that period.
Justin is a fountain of knowledge, as he’s been through it all. He’s seen the immense change from the Cohan days to the Lacob days. He’s witnessed the greatness of the Run TMC days to the Splash Brother days. He’s transitioned from Trapped in Golden State to Made in Golden State. He’s been converted from a masochist to an admirer.
Whatever is next for the Warriors in the cycle, Justin will be a witness. And a believer. He was once trapped, but he is now liberated.