OAKLAND — Stephen Curry emerged Saturday from the Boeing 747 fuselage with, once again, the NBA’s Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, repeating a joyous scene after the Warriors’ victorious flight home from Cleveland in 2015.
This time, Curry had another escort. Kevin Durant quickly emerged from the Warriors’ plane and hoisted his second consecutive NBA Finals award in the bay breeze with the California sun splashing off their golden hardware.
Next up is Tuesday’s parade through downtown Oakland.
“The parade’s going to be awesome. It’s such a great day,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re making it an annual event.”
A couple hundred fans showed up at Oakland International Airport to welcome back the Warriors from their successful title defense, 20 mostly sleepless hours after sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 108-85 rout in Friday night’s Game 4.
It was the Warriors’ third championship in four seasons, a dynasty that began with them flying in from Cleveland in 2015 with that trophy. Last season’s coronation came on the Warriors’ home court at Oracle Arena, which only need to host Games 1 and 2 of these NBA Finals rather than a Game 5 Monday.
“That’s Dub Nation right here,” guard Shaun Livingston said. “To bring this home for the Bay Area and city of Oakland is special.”
They brought it home with sleepy eyes and well-celebrated souls.
“Half the plane was shaking and half was sleeping from last night,” Livingston said.
It’s estimated they popped over $400,000 worth of champagne after Friday’s win, and Kerr couldn’t guess how many bottles he opened.
Kerr said he didn’t sleep on the flight, nor did he spend quality time with “The Larry,” having won that trophy eight times now, including three as the Warriors coach and five as a Chicago Bulls sharpshooter.
“It was up front with the players,” Kerr said.
Kerr didn’t know who put the trophy to bed Friday night, a question worth asking because Warriors owner Joe Lacob and his fiancee slept with the NBA’s golden-globe prize in 2015 before it got exported out of Cleveland.
Leading the celebration was Nick Young, the flamboyant guard nicknamed “Swaggy P” who came off the plane shirtless and in red shorts while spraying another champagne bottle.
“Nick is definitely in charge of the celebration,” Kerr said.
Outside the airport gates were a throng of fans, as police advised to Curry as he eased into his red Infinity sports car.
Jesus De La Paz, 46, of Oakland showed up at 11:30 a.m. to bask in the joy — and hopefully run into Curry like he did upon last year’s triumphant return.
“I wanted to see players and join in the celebration,” De La Paz said. “I want to feel the happiness and the collective celebration of the fans - and see (the Warriors) happiness.”
The first fan to line Earhart Road on the airport’s east side was Felicia Johnson, 58, of Hayward, who joined 18,000 fans at Friday’s watch party inside Oracle Arena and didn’t mind her five-hour wait Saturday.
“It’s been awesome. We’re family now,” Johnson said of the crowd that gathered down the curb. “Nobody wanted to leave. It’s been fun.”