As the Golden State Warriors await their next opponent in their bid for back-to-back NBA championships, the Bay Area that they represent is experiencing a golden era of its own. Indeed, the Warriors’ sudden ascent into the realm of myth is paralleled by the renaissance taking place in the Cit(ies) by the Bay, driven by a tech boom that has reestablished and elevated San Francisco and the Bay Area as an internationally-prominent metropolis.
This boom calls forth old myths and legends of Gold Rush California, where fortunes are made within the endless golden light of the California Dream, yet threaten to vanish when the run goes dry. This new iteration of old regional gods, however, comes with a 21st century golden promise: rather than gold as a material to extract, the new California Gold is something in the air – a fruiting of genius and insight that has somehow managed to be caught and contained. Within a brave new era, the Warriors franchise is a perfect embodiment of this lightning in a bottle. Suddenly, with the purchase of the team by tech billionaires and the arrival of a superstar unlike any the world has ever seen, the Warriors have become the best basketball team in the NBA (and one of the most valuable) after decades of suffering and humiliation.
The form of the Warriors’ success reflects the mythological beliefs driving the new Bay Area. While Stephen Curry has become a game-breaking sensation who defies all expectations and descriptions – and more on this boy-god in a minute – the Warriors have thrived, as seen in their recent success with Curry injured, by taking a “Strength in Numbers” approach that emphasizes the team game. While the old world of hero-monsters runs its course in places like Houston and Cleveland and in the archetypes of James Harden, Dwight Howard, and LeBron James, the Warriors have risen up by sharing the basketball, playing smart, and utilizing all their resources to succeed. This lateralized approach expresses the new ethos of a Wild West of renewed opportunities: technological fortune blends with progressive politics and spiritual sensibilities, mutual reciprocation is valued, and there is seemingly no limit to the gold that gets spread around.
Within this powerful vision, Stephen Curry stands as its Master of Ceremony and essential key, a puckish magician who has turned the game of basketball into a video game to which he holds the cheat codes. Steph is Hermes Trismagistus: the messenger, the wizard, the alchemist who has discovered life’s secrets. He is the scrawny, unexpected star who seemingly cannot be denied. With every three-point shot Curry hits, with every cross-over dribble, shimmy, and drive, the Bay Area finds its new myth affirmed – that we have found the code and truly are on the forefront of a brave new world. Like the androgynous messenger-angel to whom Curry can be compared, Curry is a different sort of male god-star; almost effeminate, he carries his swagger softly and is not nearly the egoist of Jordan or LeBron. And as he answers reporters’ questions respectfully and touts the greatness of his teammates, Curry presents us with a 21st century hero: upstanding, humble, delightful, and otherworldly. For all the doubters and naysayers who surface, the presence of Stephen Curry is delicate proof that what has been captured in the Bay Area is not mere fool’s gold.
Gabe Crane is a Qigong teacher and counselor based in Berkeley, CA. He is an avid Warriors and Giants fan, and as a master’s student in East-West Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, he is passionate about the expression of new mythologies in our time.