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New Warriors jersey pays tribute to Oakland

on November 30, 2020

When the Golden State Warriors unveiled new jerseys earlier this month, Jason Wong was confused. Wong, 41, is a Bay Area graphic designer and super-fan, owning more than 100 Warriors jerseys. As he looked at the new release, with throwback colors and updated fonts, something was different.

“I don’t know why it just doesn’t say ‘Warriors,’” he said. 

Instead of including their team name, the Warriors added a new spin to this latest design. Past uniforms have included the team’s name, as well as “The Bay,” “The City,” and “San Francisco.” But for the first time in franchise history, the Warriors will now have a jersey that features the name of their home city for 47 seasons: Oakland.

The Warriors announced the “Oakland Forever” campaign a little over a year after leaving their home of almost 50 years. The new jersey design features a blue, yellow and orange color scheme inspired by the team jerseys worn from 1997-2010. Those jerseys were worn during the 2007 “We Believe” playoff run in which the Warriors became the first No. 8 seed to eliminate a No. 1 seed (Dallas Mavericks) in the playoffs. The team also chose to wear a “We Believe” jersey replica in their last regular season game at Oracle Arena in April 2019.

The new jersey design attempts to mix old and new for the Bay Area’s only basketball team. The “We Believe” era is seen by many as a turning point for basketball in Oakland, according to Warriors Vice President of Brand Marketing Amanda Chin. The team aimed to highlight that special era in team history while also adding the new “Oakland” wordmark across the front.

“It [the jersey design] needs to represent the city or the town, the community and the culture and we’re looking at unique color stories and design lines so it’s a very different uniform,” Chin said. 

Despite the inclusion of Oakland for the first on the jersey, this isn’t the first city-inspired design used by the team. In 2017, the Warriors first introduced a design featuring the city logo’s entangled Oak tree branches. The team incorporated that logo onto the court at Oracle Arena in their last three seasons in Oakland. For some fans, that decision came with the knowledge that the team would eventually be leaving. 

“You’re giving tribute to Oakland but you guys are leaving, so why are you shoving it in our face?” said Wong.

In 2019 the team moved to San Francisco with a 10.5 acre plot just off the water in Mission Bay. The new Chase Center cost $1.4 billion and was self-financed by the team, according to Business Insider. Construction began in January of 2017 and some 33 months later the Warriors hosted the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 5 2019, a game they lost 123-101. 

For this new jersey, Chin said the difference between the “Town”’ logo and actually putting the city’s name on the jersey is little more than semantics. But for Wong, the decision to directly name Oakland is overshadowed by the team’s recent move. “In my opinion it’s way too soon to pay homage to Oakland maybe, you know, five years from now would probably be better,” said Wong. 

“With regards to putting Oakland on the jersey, I would have advised against that,” said Professor Damon Aiken. Aiken is a sports researcher at Chico State where he studies the relationship between cities and sports teams. Based on his research, the connection that fans make between a city and their team can be complicated by something like the Warriors’ relocation, in addition to the new “Oakland” wordmark.

“It’s a tough task to reposition. But they are being strategically smart by bringing in old designs and throwback era stuff and making it seem ‘old school,’” added Aiken. According to his research, the positive association with the “We Believe” nostalgia is a key part of the team’s repositioning across the Bay. 

The Golden State Warriors moved to the Bay Area in 1962, playing in San Francisco at various places like Cow Palace and Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. The team moved across the bay to Oracle Arena in 1971, settling into a permanent home and changing their name from “San Francisco Warriors” to “Golden State Warriors.” And next season the public will be watching this latest move as Oakland jerseys line the Chase Center court in San Francisco. 

“You guys just left and you’re putting Oakland on your jersey,” Wong said. “That’s kind of like a slap in the face.”

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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