The Golden State Warriors are off to their fourth straight National Basketball Association championship bout with Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
While basketball fans are drawing battlelines, stories of the connection between the reigning champions from Oakland and basketball-savvy Filipinos have surfaced.
A franchise for Filipinos
Basketball is generally accepted as the most popular sport in the Philippines. Supporting NBA teams despite being born half a world away is common practice among Filipinos.
Without this geographical attachment that guarantees loyalty, Filipino fans are stereotyped as bandwagonners—fair-weather fans with no allegiance to a single franchise.
Another stereotype for Filipinos has recently reached the public sphere, one tying them to the most successful basketball franchise of the decade.
— Steven Adams (@BestCenterNBA) April 5, 2018
The Filipino community’s supposed affinity for the 2015 and 2017 champions the Golden State Warriors is not a unilateral affair. The Bay Area-based franchise holds Filipino Heritage Night every year.
Filipino Heritage Night typically features the Warriors’ players donning Filipino-themed jerseys and inviting Filipino performers at halftime.
Artists that have been invited in the past include singers Martin Nievera and Apl de Ap and San Francisco-based pop group Filharmonic. At halftime of a 2016 matchup with the Dallas Mavericks, a traditional Filipino dance was performed.
A recent study revealed that 40 percent of the Warriors’ 11 million Facebook followers were from the Philippines. An article by Forbes on the franchise’s profitable digital marketing strategy explained how Golden State executives monetized this popularity by sealing endorsement deals with Filipino brands such as Tanduay Rum.
In January 2016, the Warriors thanked their Filipino fanbase with a highly-publicized shoutout.
In a conversation with media in 2016, NBA Philippines managing director Carlo Singson named the Warriors as one of the five most popular franchises with Filipino fans.
He discussed his belief that the Warriors had always been popular with Filipinos due to their presence in the San Francisco Bay area.
According to Singson, the fanbase only became vocal in recent years as the Warriors’ found success.
The other four franchises popular with Filipinos were traditional powerhouses and favorites Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, and another Filipino fan favorite, the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Warriors experienced a 40-year championship drought that was broken in 2015, under the tutelage of Steve Kerr and bolstered by the rise of players Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green.
Historically, the San Francisco Bay Area in Oakland, California has seen a large concentration of Filipino immigrants and their descendants.
A census in 2000 revealed that there were 332,122 residents of Filipino descent in the area.
33.6 percent of the population of Daly City in the Bay Area is of Filipino descent, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
According to another report by the same publication, the Warriors are also popular with another demographic: the Chinese.
The publicity efforts of Warriors star Curry in China and the large number of Chinese-Americans in the Bay Area are the regarded as the catalysts for the unprecedented rapport.