OAKLAND (AP) — Stephen Curry and LeBron James dueling on the court in the NBA Finals as the Golden State Warriors look to cap a record-breaking season with a second straight title. Joe Thornton and Sidney Crosby matching up on the ice as the San Jose Sharks look to win the Stanley Cup for the first time ever.
The Bay Area that is usually known for high-tech innovations, wine country and spectacular views will be the center of the sports world this weekend when it plays host to both the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup Final, as well as the Copa America soccer tournament.
“This is great for sports fans, regardless of if you follow each respective sport all year-round or whatnot, this is a great time to kind of tune in and be a sports fan in the Bay Area,” Curry said. “Obviously, the world’s eyes are going to be here in Oakland, San Jose, Levi’s Stadium. So it’s fun.”
Everyone is getting on board, with several players from the area’s other teams frequently attending Warriors and Sharks playoff games. When the Sharks clinched a Stanley Cup berth, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke was right next to Sharks counterpart Doug Wilson offering congratulations.
A group of Athletics went over to watch a Warriors shootaround before one of their own games earlier this postseason. Raiders coach and Bay Area native Jack Del Rio has attended both Sharks and Warriors playoff games this spring.
“I think it’s inspiring for sure,” Del Rio said. “I take great pride in having been from this area. Even when it wasn’t good, Warriors had some lean years, whatever. Different sports teams have lean years, if you’re a true fan, you’re still there. But there’s nothing like it when you get it going and we’re all enjoying it. That’s what’s happening right now with the Warriors and the Sharks, and we’d love to join that.”
The drama started Monday when the Warriors won Game 7 of the Western Conference finals at home, while the Sharks were losing Game 1 of the Cup Final in Pittsburgh.
That was the last overlap game of the season for the two teams, meaning fans can put their remotes aside and focus on only one game each night.
The Warriors will host Cleveland in Games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals on Thursday and Sunday nights. The Sharks will host Pittsburgh in Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday and Monday.
“It’s something that you strive toward,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “Just to see the city on fire for both teams is pretty sweet.”
For those with more national than local pride, there’s even some big-time soccer in the area as well. The U.S. men’s soccer team opens play in the Copa America tournament in Santa Clara on Friday night against Colombia, while Lionel Messi and Argentina take on Chile on Monday.
This marks the ninth time that one market will host the championships for the NBA and the NHL in the same year, with the Bay Area joining East Rutherford, New Jersey (2003), New York City (1972 and ‘94), Chicago (1992), Philadelphia (1980) and Boston (1974, ‘58 and ‘57).
None of those markets won both titles in the same year, with New York coming closest in 1994 when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup against Vancouver and the Knicks lost the NBA Finals to Houston in seven games.
This is the best run for Bay Area teams since the A’s won three World Series titles from 1972-74, the Warriors won the NBA championship in 1975 and the Raiders won the Super Bowl following the 1976 season.
This current run started in 2010 when the Giants won their first World Series since moving to San Francisco. They followed that up with titles in 2012 and ‘14 and are currently in first place in the NL West as they hope to extend their streak of even-year championships.
After years of struggles, the Warriors have turned it around under owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. They won their first championship in 40 years last season and followed that up by winning a record 73 games in the regular season and making it back to the Finals.
The Sharks shed 25 years of playoff disappointment this year when they made it to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time ever.
The 49ers are just over three years removed from a Super Bowl trip and even hosted the big game earlier this year, meaning that three of North America’s Big Four team sports will contest their championships in the Bay Area in a span of less than four months.
Even the Raiders appear to be on the rise after 13 straight seasons without a playoff berth.
“We’ve been blessed with some great sports organizations and success from when I was here, the Niners were so good,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. “They were going to the championship game every year. They were playing in the Super Bowl. The Giants obviously won in the World Series, and the Raiders make another resurgence, and obviously with the Sharks and the Stanley Cup, it’s really cool.”