Among NBA fans this season, there is a true possibility that a few have hopped on the Golden State Warriors’ bandwagon. With the defending champions now on pace to beat the 1995–1996 Chicago Bulls record of 72 wins in a single season, many fans have been quick to affirm their newfound allegiance to the current NBA champions.
The situation has become such a crucial facet of modern sports culture that the late-night comedians have begun to make fun of it. During an episode of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” during last year’s NBA Finals, a fan wearing a Warriors T-shirt and hat was asked, “Do you feel like Stevie Nicks will finally be able to take down Lindsey Buckingham?” Not realizing that Nicks and Buckingham are not NBA players but members of Fleetwood Mac, the fan replied, “It’s a possibility.”
Considering the Warriors’ exceptional play over the last two seasons, it’s easy to see how the team has won over so many converts. The three-point shooting duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson – the “Splash Brothers,” named for their ease in “making it rain” from the three-point line – coupled with the leadership of head coach Steve Kerr, a three-point specialist himself, have made the Warriors not only the best team currently, but also, most likely, the team to beat for years to come.
Similar as our earlier post on Warriors fandom in the Bay Area, Fanatics examined the merchandise sales of the Warriors nationwide by zip code to determine how Golden State fandom has spread outside of the Bay Area. The results of this investigation show that Warriors fans come from all corners of America.
The Most Popular Bandwagon Stops
It is uncommon to see a team’s merchandise sell well in the hometown of a competing team. But, in Portland, OR, this is the case. Though it’s the home of the Trail Blazers, Portland has the highest number of Warriors merchandise units: 353.4 per 100,000 residents. This is despite the fact that the Trail Blazers clinched the NBA’s Northwest Division title in 2015.
However, the Trail Blazers haven’t had a marquee player since Scottie Pippen’s run with the team from 1999 to 2003, and Portland hasn’t appeared in the NBA Finals since 1992, so Trail Blazers fans have not had much to keep them happy. With the last Trail Blazers championship in 1977, it is easy to see how some in Portland may be excited about another “also-played” team suddenly becoming prominent.
Similarly, New York, which came in second in Warriors merchandise sales at 310.4 units per 100,000 residents, has had little to cheer for with its home teams, the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets. Given the Knicks’ struggle to regain the glory they had during the Patrick Ewing–led 1990s and the Nets’ failure to be a serious playoff threat since 2003, New York – similar to Portland – may have been caught up in the seemingly magical story of the Warriors’ success.
Coming in third on the merchandise list is Porcupine, SD, a community of 1,062 as of 2010 that is part of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and is 98.28 percent Lakota. Per capita, this community sits in the poorest county in the United States.
Understanding Warriors Nation
A look at the rest of the top 10 merchandising sales shows that the Warriors Nation is a diverse place. Coming in fifth place, for example, is zip code 38838, which corresponds with Dennis, MS. Dennis is a residential community with a population of 1,629 as of 2013 – specifically, with a renter population of 8 percent who have a median household income of $39,405. Dennis is followed by zip code 89832, which includes Owyhee, NV, which is the primary town in the Duck Valley Indian Reservation.
Seventh is zip code 98281, which consists of Point Roberts, WA. Point Roberts is located on the southernmost tip of British Columbia’s Tsawwassen Peninsula, which makes land travel to the community possible only by traveling through Canada. This isolated exclave (one of only 10 in the United States) had a population of 1,314 in 2010 and has a median household income of $75,724.
Finishing the top 10 is Minnesota’s 56569 zip code (Ogema), Kansas’ 67487 (Wakefield) and Washington’s 98605 (Bingen).
As Curry and Thompson both are relatively young, it is likely that the Warriors will be competitive for the foreseeable future, giving fans a chance to jump on the Golden State bandwagon for years to come. It has been argued that jumping on the bandwagon is not necessarily a bad thing; people tend to be drawn to winners, to the biggest stars, and to those demanding the most attention. It is the one-time bandwagon fan who decides to stick with a team when things turn bad that creates a lifelong fanatic. While some of those rooting for the Warriors now will move on to the next big team later, many may just become permanent citizens of Warriors Nation – proudly wearing the yellow and blue for years to come.
For those looking to stock up on Warriors gear, Fanatics is your one-stop place for the best jerseys, team merchandise, and everything essential for the well-equipped fan. Shop now for Golden State Warrior gear on Fanatics.
We looked at Fanatics merchandise sales data for zip codes outside of the Bay Area, and using the latest U.S. Census population numbers, we determined the number of units shipped to each zip code per 100,000 residents. We filtered this by looking only at zip codes that had at least 1,000 residents in the 2010 Census.