Barber: Clunky Chase Center debut as Warriors fall to Lakers 123-101
Monday at the Warriors’ 2019 Media Day, Steve Kerr said what we’d all been thinking.
“This is such a dramatic change from where we’ve been over the last four years that I think it allows for more change, more internal evaluation, what can we do better,” the Golden State coach said. “You know, the new building is almost a metaphor for how we can approach the season.”
You bet it is, and we’ll be beating that dead horse all season long. (This, too, is a metaphor. The Press Democrat does not condone the beating of horses, living or dead.)
The Warriors have a new home court, and a new practice facility, and new offices, and a new roster that will have to find new ways to win in the NBA. All of those things were formally introduced to the public Saturday night at Chase Center, which is now an actual basketball arena and not just an ominous tower of glass and steel rising above the Mission Bay shoreline.
Saturday was both a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers and a dress rehearsal. The countdown had been ticking for months, but this was everyone’s chance to figure out exactly how all of this works.
How do you get to the game? What’s the ingress to this formerly isolated warehouse district? Is there really a ferry? Where do you enter the arena? What’s the best route to your seat? Where’s the good food? Is the entire building one giant bar? What is going on here??
“Before the game, I didn’t know where my assistant coaches were,” Kerr said. “I didn’t know where to find them. Literally. We’ve got this facility down here, and there’s all these different rooms. I went to get something to eat, nobody was there. Went up to my office, couldn’t find anybody. So we haven’t found our rhythm yet, and our routine, and that’s gonna take some time.”
I felt particularly disoriented standing in the Warriors locker room prior to the game. The home locker room at Oracle Arena was about what you would expect from a 50-year-old facility: cramped quarters, stale carpeting, shower and bathroom area too close for anyone’s comfort. Very nice clothes in rather dingy lockers.
The Chase Center locker room looks like corporate meeting space on the Death Star. It’s circular in form (with a piece of the 2014-15 Oracle court laid into the center and a re-creation of the Oracle ceiling above), sleek and modern in appearance, and wonderfully spacious compared to its predecessor. Each locker is its own tech hub, with individual TV monitor, USB ports and charging station.
“You got your own remote!” Glenn Robinson III told me prior to the game.
Robinson played for four other NBA teams before coming to the Warriors this summer. He said he’d never seen a locker room to compare to this one, arguing that the round shape is more democratic than the typical rectangular setup. Robinson showed me the recesses into which the glass doors fronting each locker slide when a player opens them.
At that moment, the lockers were open-faced. But when players first enter the room, all of them are behind glass. “Like a Hall of Fame,” Robinson and I said at the same time.