It’s amazing what a difference a few short years can make. Before the rise of the Splash Brothers – guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson – in 2012 and the hiring of head coach Steve Kerr in 2014, the Golden State Warriors were California’s “other team.” Shadowed by the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings, the team didn’t have much of a fan presence beyond the Bay Area. With the team’s last championship happening in 1975, the Warriors were in the ranks of other also-played teams like the Los Angeles Clippers and the Toronto Raptors.
Since the Splash Brothers, however, the Warriors have become the 2015 NBA Champions and are on pace to not only defend their title in 2016 but to also break the Chicago Bulls’ regular season wins record while doing it. Five of the six highest-rated game broadcasts on ESPN and TNT have featured the Warriors. The Warriors are No. 1 among the most talked about NBA teams on Facebook and have seen the number of likes on their official page grow from 700,000 to over 5 million over the last two years.
Old allegiances are hard to break. Although Golden State still has a long way to go before cracking the Lakers’ fan base, the nation and the world are increasingly being swept up in Curry fever. With Curry as the top-selling player on Fanatics as of March 2015 and the most popular player in the league, it’s a safe bet that the Warriors will be the team to watch in the future.
Here’s a look at the units sold of Warriors merchandise over the last two years.
The Birth of Warriors Nation
Golden State Warriors merchandise sales data across the United States on Fanatics over the past 2 years, and using the latest U.S. Census population numbers, metrics show the number of units shipped to each state per 100,000 residents. Sources: Fanatics & U.S. Census data
Prior to 2013, one had to be a die-hard Warriors fan or simply from the Bay Area to buy Warriors gear. With the Warriors failing to win their division since 1975, and with the last winning season before the 2012-2013 season happening in 1993-1994, Golden State offered new fans little to root for. For many, the team was a relic stuck in the past.
While there were entire segments of the country that ignored Warriors merchandise in 2013 (before Curry), every state had at least 2.81 units of Warriors merchandise sold per every 100,000 residents by 2014. By 2015 and the Warriors’ championship run, this has grown to at least 16.8 units per 100K residents, with large sectors of the nation averaging much higher than this.
The Curry Effect
The 2014-2015 season for the Warriors exceeded everyone’s expectations. Golden State finished the season 67-15 – the best of any team in the league that season. The compiled home record of 39-2 was the second-best in NBA history. The team was first in defensive efficiency and second in offensive efficiency, Curry was the league’s Most Valuable Player – the first Warriors player to take that honor since Wilt Chamberlain – and the Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in six to take the NBA Championship. On top of this, Curry broke his own record for most three-pointers in a single season, shattered Reggie Miller’s record for most three-pointers in a single postseason, and – along with Klay Thompson – broke the record for most three-pointers by a duo.
This change of fortune was reflected by the fans, who (in 2014) made the Warriors the third-highest team in regards to merchandising sales and made Curry the second-highest merchandisable player behind LeBron James. However, the Warriors’ exceptional start to the 2015-2016 season has many believing that this Warriors squad may be the best team ever to play in the NBA. Excitement over the Warriors’ domination of the hardwood has made both the Warriors and Curry the most commercial assets in the league today.
While the future is far from set, all indications suggest that the Warriors – led by 27-year-old Curry and 25-year-old Thompson – will remain playoff contenders for years to come. While the country may still be a Lakers nation for now, it doesn’t take a psychic to see how this may change shortly, as long at the Warriors can count on the Splash Brothers’ place on the three-point line.
Fanatics carries the full line of Splash Brothers and Warriors gear, including bobbleheads, jerseys, and posters.
We looked at Fanatics merchandise sales data across the United States over the past 2 years, and using the latest U.S. Census population numbers, we determined the number of units shipped to each state per 100,000 residents.