OAKLAND -- The Bay Area has been captivated by these Warriors since early in the season.
But suddenly a nation is watching. And debating. And perhaps liking what it sees.
Even when the Warriors qualified for the playoffs, they might as well as have been playing in North Dakota. National sports shows such as ESPN's "SportsCenter" and "First Take" continued to focus on things such as the demise of the Lakers and whatever LeBron James was doing at any given moment.
But coach Mark Jackson is nothing if not media savvy. Having played in the media capital of New York City and also serving as a national TV commentator after his playing days, he knows what attracts attention. He also knows which hot buttons to push to generate buzz.
Jackson's vocal allegations about the Denver Nuggets trying to rough up star guard Stephen Curry and taking "cheap shots" at his ankle had ancillary benefit. It was controversy, and there's nothing better for attracting the sports media and sports fans. Not surprisingly, a significantly larger national media contingent turned out for the clincher.
The subsequent $25,000 fine Jackson received Thursday for an "attempt to influence the officiating" only heightened intrigue about Game 6. It was a pittance for the return in interest it bought, and with Golden State's 92-88 victory that closed out the series, the entire NBA-watching country saw the Warriors and is now talking them up.
"It really shows you that things have changed around here," Jackson said. "It's a beautiful thing to be relevant, and not just in this area, but people are embracing this basketball team. I think it's how they conduct their business, how they compete and they're just a lovable bunch of guys."
On ESPN's "First Take" on Friday, panelists Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless did an extended segment on the Warriors series against the Nuggets and talked excitedly about the next one against the San Antonio Spurs. "SportsCenter" is suddenly devoting significant minutes to the Warriors. NBA-TV is all over them. They're getting analyzed and lauded by the TNT panel of Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal and Chris Webber.
In short, the Warriors no longer are working the lounge at midnight. They're playing the big room in prime time.
"To me, it's to be expected," Jackson said. "This is a moment that I thought would take place. And the reason I'm excited about it is because of those guys. They deserve this. They've waited a long time, they've put a lot of work in, and they've stuck to the game plan. And they deserve all the credit."
Curry acknowledged that while the Warriors aren't begging for national attention, it's nice to get a little bit.
"It is a big stage, the NBA playoffs, and everybody's locked in to the teams that are playing well," Curry said. "It's very rare in the history of this organization that we're one of those teams. So winning a playoff series, and now facing the second-best team in the West record-wise and one that's won multiple championships (San Antonio), a lot of eyes are on us."
Curry added that the Warriors have been playing entertaining basketball for a while, but it didn't get on anybody's radar because the team still wasn't winning. But this season, particularly winning a playoff series, has changed all that.
"It's the result of playing well, winning big games, being consistent over the course of the season, and just having fun with the whole process," Curry said. "So we're going to enjoy it, and hopefully once this postseason ride is all over, we'll look back at this as a steppingstone in the right direction for this franchise."
Jackson said that members of the Warriors' staff were asking him Friday if he'd watched any of the morning shows talking about his team. He maintained when he was lying in bed, he saw them but actually turned off the TV because "it's easy to fall in love with these guys, and I'm already head over heels, so there's no sense in going any deeper.
"The awesome thing about it is, the story's not over, and we don't believe it's over," Jackson added. "We believe it's far from over. So as incredible as it is today, keep an extra pen, because you're going to need some more ink."