Warriors embrace special Alamodome atmosphere in thumping of Spurs

SAN ANTONIO — Walking into the Alamodome Thursday night for practice, the Warriors could feel how massive the famed building truly is. Whispers turned to laughs and smiles about what Friday night’s atmosphere would be against the San Antonio Spurs.

Expectations were then exceeded in their 144-113 blowout win to begin a five-game road trip. The Warriors and Spurs set a new NBA attendance record of 68,323. That’s over 6,000 more than the previous record of 62,046 fans on March 27, 1998, when the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks squared off at the Georgia Dome.

The high for a Warriors game before Friday night was 36,523 on Nov. 5, 1993, which also was at the Alamodome.

Steph Curry, who so many fans were there to see, called the event “special from the jump.” Starting with the long walk from the locker room to the tunnel with fans lining up to cheer him, and boo other warriors, Curry could sense this was far from a normal regular-season game. He even poked fun at the Dubs following their much-needed win after dropping three straight and struggling all season on the road.

“It takes (over) 64,000 to bring our best road performance of the year,” Curry said.

For most warriors, this was their first time playing at the Alamodome. But not for all.

Donte DiVincenzo and Jordan Poole played each other there in the 2018 National Championship game, with DiVincenzo’s Villanova Wildcats topping Poole and the Michigan Wolverines. Five years later, those two led the charge off the bench. Poole led all scorers with 25 points, and DiVincenzo was right behind with a season-high 22 points.

“For me, it was cool and surreal,” DiVincenzo said. “When you’re playing a national championship, when you’ve played here, you don’t think about being able to play here again. So to be able to play in this building twice, one in college, one in the pros, is definitely an experience that I’ll definitely cherish for a while.”

Poole’s loss to DiVincenzo is a day he no doubt wishes he could forget. Being back in the same building with the Warriors and coming away with a win is something that won’t slip his memory.

“It was pretty electric,” Poole said. “Really special occasion being able to play in front of the largest crowd in NBA history. Shout out to the NBA, shout out to the Warriors, shout out to the Spurs for putting together an amazing event.

“I’m glad we got the win.”

When the two future Warriors teammates battled against each other in college, the announced attendance was 67,831. That fell under a 1,000 fewer than Friday night’s record-setting game and had to be the most people they had played in front of before facing the Spurs.

Locked into the game more than the hoopla, it took DiVincenzo some time to truly realize how many people had shown up. Once the lights came on, DiVincenzo’s own were wide open.

“I didn’t realize how many people were here until after the national anthem intros when all the lights came on,” DiVincenzo said. “There was people all the way up to the top. In warmups, I couldn’t really see that far. So it was definitely once the lights came on and the flashlights came on, that’s when it kind of hit that that’s how many people were there.”

The Warriors’ 144 points marked a new season high. DiVincenzo again lit it up again, and his team was victorious once more. Poole joined him this go around, too. The night also was about much more.

San Antonio commemorated its 50th anniversary with their return to the Alamodome. Former Spurs legends David Robinson, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and more all were on hand. As was Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who spent four seasons in San Antonio and won two championships.

Kerr on Thursday night caught up with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, general manager RC Buford and former teammates Sean Elliott and Avery Johnson for dinner and a glass of wine. Prior to tipoff, the Spurs welcomed Kerr back with a tribute video that had him shaking his head, thanking the fans and trying his best to hold back tears minutes before tipoff.

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Taking a trip down memory lane was an emotional one for Kerr, one that speaks to the Spurs’ organization and the night as a whole. The win wasn’t exactly secondary to Kerr with the Warriors getting back to .500 on the season with a 21-21 record, though the experience is what he’ll remember more than the final score in the long run.

“Just to be part of this, this team and this community here for five years of my life and to be embraced by the fans and my family to be embraced here and really my kids they spent a good chunk of their childhood here. It’s a special place and tonight was a great display of how special the Spurs are and how special San Antonio is.

“I want to say thank you to the organization and to the city for a great night.”

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