‘We Believe’ v. ‘Light the Beam’
Two attorneys reflect on their Warriors and Kings fandoms
Published in 2023 Northern California Super Lawyers magazine
By Andrew Brandt on June 26, 2023
Joy A. Diaz, 31, remembers the Sacramento Kings’ glory days fondly. As a kid, she would gather with her siblings, parents and cousins to watch games most nights.
“I come from a really big family, and we all lived like three houses down from one another,” says the family law attorney at Hoover Krepelka in San Jose. “We’d come over to each other’s houses and watch. It was more exciting when they were good. As they were losing, that trailed off a little bit.”
After their first-round playoff exit in 2006, the Kings went 16 seasons without making the postseason. It was, at one point, the longest active playoff drought in professional sports.
“It’s one of those things where people ask you, ‘Who is your favorite basketball team?’ And I’m like ‘The Kings!’ ‘Really? Who likes the Kings?,’” laughs Diaz. “I don’t know what it is about the fanbase, but there’s never been a time where I was like, ‘I should root for somebody else.’ It was always just kind of hoping the Kings would be good again.”
This season, the Kings were good again. The team won 48 games and secured the third seed in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, but ended up losing in the first round to the Golden State Warriors.
“We go in every season with a little bit of hope, but with the expectation that we’re somehow going to mess this up,” Diaz says. “This year, I was expecting another disappointment. It’s a really nice surprise with how fun it is. We recently went to a game—I haven’t heard the stadium that loud in forever. It’s exciting to be higher up in the rankings, and have a fun team to watch. Their marketing is great with ‘Light the Beam.’
“It feels like being a fan all these years has finally paid off. I don’t know if it’s a feeling of being proud, but it feels magical to be part of it.”
Christopher K. Whang, 31, grew up in San Francisco watching the 49ers and Giants with his dad, but didn’t really discover the Golden State Warriors until the 2006-2007 season. That team not only made its first playoff appearance in 13 seasons but, as the No. 8 seed, upset the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round.
“When I went to school, everybody was talking about the Warriors, and I didn’t know what it was. I really got into it during ‘We Believe,’ the ’06-’07 team,” says the civil litigator at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell. “Our swim team, in between meets, all the kids would watch games and act like we were Baron Davis.”
The Warriors went another six seasons before making the playoffs again, but after drafting Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, the franchise won four titles between 2015 and 2022, becoming one of the most popular teams in the country along the way.
“Everybody talks about how they’re against bandwagoners,” Whang says. “For me, it’s pretty awesome when you have a bunch of people suddenly supporting your local team. People gripe about it—that we don’t support them when they’re not doing well. When they do well, like last year … I was in the office in San Francisco, and everybody was going crazy. I love seeing things like that; it shows you there’s a community.”
While Whang grew up watching the Warriors on TV, he never had the chance to go to an actual game. “After I passed the Bar, and after I got a real job, I went to my first one,” he says. “I got decent tickets, and it was a game against Trae Young and the Hawks. It was like a dream come true.”
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