Warriors celebrate Oakland history with new jerseys amid Coliseum debt battle

The Golden State Warriors are paying homage to Oakland with new uniforms while fighting a debt that city officials say the team owes its former hometown. 

The “Oakland Forever” uniforms are inspired by the team from 1997-2010, including the iconic We Believe-era playoff run in 2007. The Nike City Edition jerseys will have “Oakland” across the front and they’ll feature the Warrior’s old dark blue and orange colors. 

Additionally, the Warriors are partnering with Oakland-based apparel company Oaklandish to launch a collection line that’s influenced by the new jerseys, which will be available near the start of the 2020-21 season.

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“Oakland is and forever will be part of this franchise’s identity,” Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts said in a release.  

Meanwhile, the Warriors are in the process of appealing to California’s highest court to settle a multimillion-dollar fight. It's centered around an outstanding debt from a 1996 renovation at the Oakland Arena, where the team played for decades before moving to San Francisco last year. Coliseum Authority Executive Director Henry Gardner said the debt is about $48 million.  

"This is despicable behavior by billionaires trying to harm struggling Oakland tax-payers," said Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan. "The arbitrator and the court ruled that they were wrong and we were right -- but they still seek to refuse to pay their obligations." 

The Warriors efforts at the state Supreme Court, despite lower courts siding with the Coliseum, put the people of Oakland and Alameda County at risk of having to cover the debts and threaten cuts to public services, according to Kaplan.  

The team signed a lease agreement in 1996 and extended it in 2016. They argue in the case, which started two years ago, that their obligations would end when they moved across the bay last September. But in August, an appeals court ruled the Warriors must pay the outstanding debt, plus costs and fees that the city of Oakland sustained. 

“Our position has always been that we will pay what the courts determine we owe,” the Warriors said in a statement. “However, the evidence is clear that the Authority drafted the contract and knew that it would not require the Warriors to pay debt services under these circumstances.”

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Before an appeal was announced, Warriors spokeswoman Kimberly Veale said the team was disappointed with the court's decision but they would abide by the ruling if they were in fact responsible for it. Highlighting contract details, the team now says they remain confident they're right and will continue to fight for it. 

"The Warriors keep losing their offensive efforts to rob struggling Oakland tax-payers of $50 million -- but now they are trying again," Kaplan wrote in a Tweet. "We fought and won. Despite being proven wrong, these billionaires are trying to stick poor residents with their bills!"