Programming note: Braves-Giants coverage starts tonight at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area.
SAN FRANCISCO — Buster Posey has a lot in common with Stephen Curry, a fellow college star who slipped a bit in the draft and then developed into an MVP and one of his sport’s most popular players. Posey and Curry are also two of Under Armour’s biggest stars, but while that connection has never put them in the same room, Posey said he has been cheering from afar as Curry has led a push for an odd year championship.
“I’ve definitely had fun following them,” Posey said. “It’s the most NBA I’ve watched since I was a kid and I was watching Jordan and all them. It’s been as fun for me to watch the Warriors as it was during those Jordan-Pippen Bulls days.”
Posey is far from alone in that respect. While the Giants clubhouse has few who grew up as basketball standouts (Posey played two years of high school basketball), it is full of Michael Jordan fans. Justin Maxwell was an all-county basketball player at his Maryland high school who said he was a Jordan fan more than a Bullets/Wizards fan. Chicago’s George Kontos grew up a diehard Bulls fan, and like Posey and Maxwell, he has now gotten caught up in the Warriors stirring season.
Kontos is rooting for them in the Finals in part because the Cavaliers knocked his Bulls out of the playoffs. He watched that Eastern Conference series closely.
“It’s just about curtailing LeBron, containing him a little,” he said. “If he’s doing LeBron things, I think he’s going to be tough. But the Warriors have a lot of great players and they’re really deep. I think it’s going to be a great series, and I’m definitely pulling for the Warriors.”
The biggest fan in the clubhouse is the same player who grew up rooting for the Giants and ended up being their shortstop. When the Giants landed in Denver last Thursday, Brandon Crawford immediately pulled out his phone to check the score of Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. He passed the news along to interested teammates, adding a twist when he got to Kontos.
“I asked him how the Bulls were doing,” Crawford said, smiling. “He didn’t say a whole lot.”
Crawford was first and foremost a baseball and football fan as a kid, pointing out that the Warriors weren’t these Warriors as he grew up in the Bay Area. This Warriors team is different. Few teams in basketball history have been more aesthetically pleasing.
“I admire the way they play,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s been a lot of fun to watch."
Crawford hoped to see that in person when he took his wife, Jalynne, to a Warriors-Lakers game on Dec. 23. Jalynne is a huge Lakers fan, and Brandon figured he would enjoy the night.
“They got killed,” he said, shaking his head.
Crawford, like others in the clubhouse, is hoping to get out to a Finals game if he can.
“The schedule hasn’t matched up yet,” he said. “But I’m just saying -- I’ll throw this out there -- the 49ers did invite me to a game a couple years ago …”
The Warriors threw out a different sort of invite for Hunter Pence when he attended a game at Oracle on Jan. 31. He sat courtside and was asked to throw t-shirts to fans during a break in the action.
“It’s an intense atmosphere. You can definitely feel the passion and electricity,” Pence said. “I think what they’re doing is special. It’s awesome to see this team having the type of season they're having.”
Pence, a Texas native, has navigated a tricky rooting situation this month. He said the Rockets and Warriors are two of his three favorite teams, along with the Cavaliers, a team he supports because he’s a big LeBron James fan. There’s no ambiguity in the Finals, though.
“I’ve been rooting for the Warriors,” he said. “I try to root for everyone in our cities the most.”
Pence and the rest of the Giants may have to get creative if they want to keep up with Game 1 of the Finals. They’ll visit the White House in the afternoon on June 4 and then travel to Philadelphia for a series against the Phillies. That night, the Warriors will kick off their quest for an odd year championship.
The even-year champions will be following along on phones and iPads.
“It’s an exciting time,” Bochy said. “I didn’t realize it had been 40 years since they got to the Finals, so congratulations to the Warriors. It’s a great run by them, a great job. Congrats to Steve Kerr and the Warriors on going to the Finals. That’s a lot of hard work.”
After ending a long championship drought in San Francisco, does Bochy have any advice for Kerr, the first-year coach across the bridge?
“My advice is don’t change a thing, keep doing what you’re doing,” Bochy said. “I always say to enjoy it, and he seems like he’s relaxed and having a great time.”