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Monkey51 Profile
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Registered: 02-2006
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He's a believer T-shirt design sparks fan enthusiasm for playoffs

Pia Sarkar, Chronicle Staff Writer

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Paul Wong believed in the Golden State Warriors when few other people did.

That's why no one took the 35-year-old Alameda restaurant owner seriously when he started handing out signs at the Oracle Arena in Oakland that read, "We Believe."

Now the fans do believe and Wong's two words have become a mantra. Thousands of people now sport bright yellow T-shirts emblazoned with "We Believe" across their chests. They hold up signs and collectively chant the phrase as they cheer on the Warriors through the playoffs.

"I feel really proud, to be honest," Wong said. "Everyone's sharing that thought. The more people who have the same thought cheering on the Warriors, the further this team will go."

Wong's own faith in the Warriors has been tested since he became a fan in 1980 and as a season-ticket holder for eight seasons. He has watched them go down in flames enough times to know that it can happen again. Yet he keeps coming back, rooting for the Warriors as if the past doesn't matter.

It was after a win against the Detroit Pistons in March when Wong slapped together a sign that read "We Believe Playoff" and held it over his head during a home game against the Denver Nuggets.

In subsequent games, he handed out "We Believe" signs to anyone who would take them. Few did, and some even handed them back to him. Wong started seeking out children because they seemed to be the only ones who responded.

As the Warriors advanced to the playoffs for the first time in 13 years and toppled the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks against all odds, "We Believe" suddenly caught on. Wong no longer pushed signs into people's hands. Instead they sought him out in Section 121 of the arena.

"All the fans, they're like a stove with a pilot light and I was the match," he said.

Wong went from printing 150 signs for one game to 300 signs for another to 4,000 by the end of the regular season. He designed 50 T-shirts with the "We Believe" logo and then upped the count to 150. All told, he has spent $5,000 of his own money and turned down an offer by the Warriors organization to compensate him.

"I wanted this to be strictly through a fan's perspective," Wong said.

Comcast cut a deal with the Warriors to distribute a fancier version of the "We Believe" T-shirt in a deeper yellow with the company's logo on the back. The free T-shirts went out to 20,000 fans at each of the two home games against Dallas. They are being handed out to 20,000 more at each of the home games against the Utah Jazz.

"We're just excited," said Lorena Hernandez, a spokeswoman for Comcast. "It's just incredible to see this sea of golden shirts."

Kristin Conte, a spokeswoman for the NBA, said the Warriors official playoff T-shirt is now the top seller at the NBA online store. The amount spent on Warrior gear is up 126 percent in the playoffs compared with the regular season.

But the purists have flocked to Wong's restaurant, the Hawaiian Drive Inn in Alameda, where he sells his original T-shirt for $15. It bears no logos, just the words, "We Believe" and "Go Warriors" on the front and "Playoffs" on the back. He has a waiting list of 75 people.

"I feel guilty as it is, but I had to pay for the cost to get it done," Wong said.

He calls his restaurant Belief Central, decking it with Warriors paraphernalia. And he shows up to all the Warrior home games with a new sign in hand. In Game 6 against Dallas, he held up one that read, "It Ends Tonight," convinced that there would be no Game 7. And there wasn't.

Wong said fans around him now look to him for inspiration. "I'm like their little lucky charm," he joked.

On Friday, he planned to carry a sign with the words "We Will Prevail" as the Warriors tried to pull themselves out of a hole against the Utah Jazz.

A die-hard fan, Wong will not even consider the possibility of defeat even though he has seen it happen many times before.

"In this series, it's not if we're going to win -- it's when we're going to win," he said. "I think this journey is going to end at some point, but until it happens, I don't have to worry about it."

ok so how do we do it for the giants? what's the slogan? who starts it?

Hamels started toward the dugout after what he thought was a strike. Lincecum didn't get the call & buzzed ump Dana DeMuth w. a fastball that slammed off the backstop & then froze Hamels w. another 3rd strike. 4/28/10 Timmy the ump killer.
5/12/2007, 11:58 pm Link to this post
Zing867 Profile
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Registered: 11-2006
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Re: He's a believer T-shirt design sparks fan enthusiasm for playoffs

"Beats being a Dodgers fan."


"We have as many world series wins in San Francisco as the Cubs."


5/13/2007, 11:39 am Link to this post   
Nine Buck Profile
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Re: He's a believer T-shirt design sparks fan enthusiasm for playoffs

Wong better start printing out shirts with " in miracles" added after the " we believe"

down 3-1 and heading back to Utah

" we believe.. in miracles"
5/13/2007, 9:22 pm Link to this post   


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