Any presumption that the Warriors, upon departing Oakland for San Francisco in 2019, will dump the Golden State moniker is premature, according to the team executive who has spent five years devoted to completing the impending move.
Despite speculation that the Warriors will reassume the name San Francisco Warriors, team president/COO Rick Welts said Thursday that the odds are against it.
“The team’s success has caused us to really rethink whether or not that’s something we should or want to do,” Welts said on the Warriors Insider Podcast. “I guess it’s fair to say there’s been no final decision made.
“But if you were a betting man, I think you would probably want to wager that the name might remain the same.”
Upon moving to San Francisco from Philadelphia in 1962 the Warriors, playing primarily at the Cow Palace, adopted the name San Francisco Warriors. Though the Warriors played at the Oakland Coliseum Arena (now Oracle Arena) as early as November 1966, they retained the San Francisco name.
Five years later, in 1971, the franchise completed the move to Oakland and was renamed the Golden State Warriors.
The nebulousness of the name confused many beyond the Bay Area. The Warriors have in fact drafted players who admitted to now knowing where the franchise was located prior to arriving in Oakland.
Because the team has spent the past five years working so diligently toward returning to San Francisco, informed speculation has been the team would reattach the name San Francisco Warriors.
“Four years ago, I think the conventional wisdom in our building here in Oakland was that, yes, we should attach a city name to the team, that it would become a more global franchise,” Welts said. “There was a lot of head-scratching four years ago about where the Golden State Warriors even played, in other parts of the world.
“What’s happened with the team over the course of the ensuing years, until today, has made the Warriors if not the preeminent, at least among the three best-known NBA franchises around the world. And everybody who didn’t know where the Golden State Warriors were four years ago, if you’re a fan today, anywhere in the world, you know where the Golden State Warriors are.”
The implication: the greatly increased profile of the team has better defined the identity of the franchise, making “Golden State” more palatable to the brain trust.
Whether the name stays or goes is, according to Welts, not yet decided.