Verdell Jones with a layup. Photo: Pasag Photography
It’s time for Santa Cruz basketball! The fifth season of the Santa Cruz Warriors starts November 12th, and if you’re already a fan, you know how lucky we are to have this championship team in town. We’re talking affordable, pro basketball that’s walking distance from downtown and the beach. If you’re new to the Warriors or have yet to attend a game, here’s a quick introduction as well as some exciting things to anticipate this season.
Aaron Craft fights for possession of the ball. Photo: Ariel Nava Photography
WHO ARE THE SANTA CRUZ WARRIORS?
The Santa Cruz Warriors are the D-League team of the Golden State Warriors. What’s a D-League? It’s shorthand for the NBA’s Development League, the official minor league of the NBA. Founded in 2001, the D-League boasts 22 teams with direct affiliations to NBA franchises. The Santa Cruz Warriors are one of two D-League teams in California (the other being the rival Los Angeles D-Fenders). The Warriors, along with all D-League teams, offer a great opportunity to enjoy professional basketball at an affordable price in a family-friendly setting.
The D-League championship trophy and championship rings at the season opening game on Nov. 13, 2015.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Cruz Warriors
TAKE PRIDE, THEY’RE REALLY GOOD
Since arriving in 2012, the Santa Cruz Warriors have advanced to the finals in three of their four seasons in Santa Cruz. In 2015, both the Golden State Warriors and the Santa Cruz Warriors won the championship making it the first time an NBA team and their affiliate had done so in the same year. Some notable Santa Cruz Warriors players have gone on to the NBA including Seth Curry of the Dallas Mavericks and James Michael McAdoo of the Golden State Warriors. McAdoo frequently returns to Santa Cruz to enjoy the surf culture that he fell in love with during his time here. Who can blame him? Earlier this year, Aaron Craft told us he was smitten with our sunny weather and bounty of fresh produce.
Young fans beg Mav'Riks for some delicious pizza. Photo: Ariel Nava Photography
BUT DO THEY HAVE A MASCOT?
Yep, Mav’Riks the dancing, sunglass-bespeckled sea turtle can be seen rallying the crowd at every game.
Young fan gets an autograph from player of the game, Daniel Coursey. Photo: Ariel Nava Photography
ACTIVE IN THE COMMUNITY
The Santa Cruz Warriors are incredibly active in the local community. Their signature Get Fit program engages local school kids through fun exercises and events that promote nutrition, fitness, and wellness. Players, coaches, and even Mav’Riks are expected to make over 200 appearances at schools, nonprofits, and charitable events throughout the year.
A young fan takes aim at giant Martinelli's bottles during a timeout at Kaiser Permanente Arena. Photo: Ariel Nava Photography
THE ARENA IS AWESOME
The Warriors’ home, the Kaiser Permanente Arena, is spectacular. At nearly 30,000 square feet, it holds 2,500 seats and is the largest venue in Santa Cruz. It’s also the largest Green Certified venue in the Monterey Bay area. It’s downtown location makes it a quick stroll from restaurants, hotels, the Wharf, Cowell Beach, and even the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Plus, fans can enjoy local favorites like Marini’s Candies and draft beer from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing during the game.
Young fans cheer on the Warriors. Photo: Courtesy Santa Cruz Warriors
GAMES YOU SHOULDN’T MISS
The 2016-17 season runs November through March with 24 home games, the same number of away games, and hopefully some post season play. The season kicks off November 12th when the Warriors face the Los Angeles D-Fenders. All opening day guests will receive a Warriors T-shirt, and the first 1,500 fans will get a rally towel. Later in the season, guests can take home a bobblehead version of a favorite Golden State Warrior on the following promotional dates: Stephen Curry on Nov 25th, Draymond Green on Dec 27th, and Kevin Durant on Jan 11th.
GET YOUR TICKETS
Tickets for the 2016-17 season are on sale now. Prices range from $17 (bleachers) to $300 (courtside). Before the game, grab drinks and dinner at nearby spots like Assembly, Hula’s Island Grill & Tiki Room, and 99 Bottles Restaurant & Pub, all of which just happen to be official sponsors of the Warriors.