Dubs’ record-setting Alamodome game will be special to many originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay area
SAN ANTONIO — Donte DiVincenzo had a plan for the Warriors’ practice Thursday night at the Alamodome. He knew Jordan Poole wouldn’t be too fond of it, too.
“I actually already knew the answer,” DiVincenzo said. “I was like, ‘Did y’all stay in this locker room?’ He was like, ‘Man, I ain’t talking about that.’
“… Every time the coaches ask if we played here, I just always say, ‘Ask Jordan.’ Just playful stuff like that.”
The Alamodome is home to one of the greatest moments of DiVincenzo’s basketball career and one of the biggest letdowns for Poole. DiVincenzo’s Villanova Wildcats beat Poole and the Michigan Wolverines in the famed building in the 2018 national championship. That game also put DiVincenzo on the map as a first-round talent and helped propel his eventual NBA career.
He scored 31 points with five 3-pointers, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks. His 31 points were the most ever by a player off the bench in a Final Four game, and that led to him being named the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
Now five years later as teammates, DiVincenzo, Poole and the rest of the Warriors are set to make history Friday night with the San Antonio Spurs by setting the record for the highest attendance at an NBA game.
Once again, the Warriors are set to break a record previously owned by Steve Kerr and the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls and Atlanta Hawks played in front of 62,046 fans on March 27, 1998 at the Georgia Dome. The spectacle still lives in Kerr’s memory bank.
“Walking in and seeing 60,000 fans is not something you’re used to,” Kerr said. “It’s definitely a game that stood out back then, just like it’s going to stand out for our guys.”
Playing at the Alamodome will have special meaning for several Warriors. DiVincenzo and Poole of course have their banter. The record will be at the top of everyone’s mind. Klay Thompson remembers the Spurs’ old rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 2000s and always enjoys being a part of NBA history. Steph Curry, as he often does, is making the night special for a handful of fans by purchasing a suite for them to watch the game from.
While DiVincenzo and Poole have two games to remember from the Alamodome, Kerr has a whole lot more than that. He played four seasons with the Spurs, including his final year as a player, and won two championships in San Antonio. On a night that will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the franchise, Kerr is focused on getting a win on the road while also soaking in the atmosphere.
“I haven’t heard who’s coming back and who’s going to be on the floor, but I always love coming back to San Antonio,” Kerr said. “It’s great to be part of this celebration of the 50th anniversary and the Spurs’ entrance into the league and to have been a part of it in a small way, but during an important era and being part of a couple championship teams and also raising my family here and making a ton of friends here.
“This will always be a special place for me.”
The game itself will be a challenge, and not just because of the Warriors’ 3-16 record on the road. Not too many players have experience playing in a dome. The court actually was in a much different area on the floor when Kerr played for the Spurs. It was raised when DiVincenzo and Poole played here, which isn’t the case this time.
Curry has played in a dome before, but that was 15 years ago in Davidson’s Elite Eight loss to Kansas at Ford Field. The Warriors star would have played in the Alamodome if he were to advance. Instead, he scored 25 points in a two-point loss but went 9-for-25 from the field and 4-for-16 from 3-point range.
Draymond Green played on an aircraft carrier in 2011 when Michigan State fell to the University of North Carolina. In passing, he admitted shooting in the Alamodome was tough at practice but nothing compared to trying to shoot on the USS Carl Vinson. Not even close.
Thompson, he believes he’ll be just fine.
“Pretty easy,” he said when asked how hard it will be to adjust his eyes and shot. “Rim’s still 10 feet, like Gene Hackman said. It’s pretty simple.”
If all goes to plan, Golden State will start an important stretch away from San Francisco with a win and come away with a night where the Warriors will always remember the Alamodome.