By Doug Oakley
Age and experience are one thing, but youthful energy is the real stuff.
Just ask Sweetie, a 105-year-old Golden State Warriors fan who believes the team has the key ingredients needed to beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA championship starting Thursday in Oakland.
"It's going to be a tight fight because Cleveland is older and they know a lot of tricks these Warriors don't know because they haven't gotten to that stage yet," said Sweetie, whose daughter Lily Toney of Oakland asked this paper not to reveal her full name or city because she lives alone. "But the Warriors are going to win because they have more energy than those older guys. I can't hardly wait to see it."
A young team like the Warriors probably doesn't get paid as much as an older, more experienced bunch, but that will be a part of the Cavaliers' downfall too, she predicted.
"Money is the root of all evil and it gives you the swell head," Sweetie said. "They think nobody can do nothing to them because they have all this money. The Warriors are just starting to get the money, so they are a bit more eager to please the public than they would be later on."
Sweetie has been a fan a long time. When the Warriors won their last championship in 1975, she was a young woman of 65 and still had her husband. He died in 1999 at age 89.
Sweetie played forward on her high school team in Ennis, Texas, in the mid-1920s and she's been a basketball fan ever since. She's also been a teacher, raised a family with three children and now has four grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.
Ask Sweetie for her perspective on living such a long time and she's happy to oblige. Exercise was never her thing, and she believes longevity is due to luck.
But it's basketball she really wants to talk about.
Wednesday night's final game for the Western Conference title against the Houston Rockets had her on the edge of her seat.
"Ooooooh, that first half was touchy," Sweetie said. "You didn't know which way they were going. However, I have been watching the Warriors long enough. They play hard in the last half and they played some ball (Wednesday) night. When they won, I was so happy to know my dream was coming through. I was just dumb with it."
In the postgame news conference, Warriors coach Steve Kerr gave a shout out to Sweetie, saying "she's been following the Warriors forever and loves the Warriors. I'm happy for all the fans and especially Sweetie, so congrats."
Asked if she would go to one of the championship games if someone -- say a head coach -- could get her a ticket, Sweetie didn't waste any time in answering.
"I would love to see that game in person," she said.