By Doug Oakley
HAYWARD -- Rank has its privileges. If you're nearing your 106th birthday and you're a Warriors fan, rank means a free ticket in a suite Thursday at Oracle Arena for the first game of the NBA Finals matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After word got out last week that the Warriors had a 105-year old fan named Sweetie who can talk sports just as well as any other fanatic, the team ponied up.
"Well, they heard what I asked for," said Sweetie, whose daughter Lily Toney of Oakland asked this paper not to reveal Sweetie's real name or address because she lives alone.
Sweetie, who was born in Ennis, Texas, and moved to the Bay Area in 1936, will turn 106 on June 12.
Toney, 75, said a team representative called her shortly after this newspaper printed an online article Friday about Sweetie's age and decades-long love for the Warriors.
"She's excited, and I get to be her press secretary," Toney said. "It's all fun. The Warriors are stressing it's a big thing for them too, but they want to make sure she enjoys the game and doesn't have a lot of distractions."
That will probably mean whisking her from her VIP parking spot up to her suite and out of the way of prying media hordes, Toney said.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr gave a shout-out to Sweetie after last Wednesday's conference title-clinching playoff game against the Houston Rockets. After practice on Monday, Kerr had more to say about his team's eldest fan.
"What a great story ... 105 years old, following the Warriors for all these years," Kerr said. "I loved her message: 'Don't get the swell head.' That's always our message to the guys, but Sweetie had a better way of putting it than I did. "From what I gather, we're going to have her at Game 1, which I'm really excited about."
Interviewed Friday, Sweetie said she enjoyed the final game of the Western Conference finals, and like many fans she was filled with angst.
"Oh, I did like that last game," Sweetie said. "I loved it, but it made me kind of angry because I wanted to slap them boys for playing so sloppy in the first half," Sweetie said. "I enjoyed every bit of it."