ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – While Denver and cities alike buzz with anticipation for Thursday night's Game 1 of the NBA Finals, one Bronco in particular has been waiting for this day his whole life.
A native of the Bay Area, safety T.J. Ward has been a Golden State Warriors fan for as long as he can remember and has attended games since he was eight years old.
"I remember being able to go to the arena, walking right up and buying the ticket for like $15," said Ward.
But Ward isn't just a typical Golden State fan. This May, he permanently showed his support for the team by inking a tattoo of the Warrior's logo with 'Golden State Warrior' written around.
The tattoo not only supports his hometown NBA squad but also represents how he sees himself.
"The mascot alone exemplifies how I like to play - my mentality as a Warrior," said Ward. "It's just to show my hometown some love, representing where I'm from."
So it goes without saying that Ward was on cloud nine when his local team topped the Houston Rockets in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals, earning their first Finals berth in nearly half a century.
"Oh, I was ecstatic," said Ward. "This organization hasn't been to the finals in 40 years. It's huge for the city, it's huge for the entire Bay Area, and I'm very proud. I'm proud of what they're doing this year."
When asked to weigh in on the matchup of Golden State's Stephen Curry and Cleveland's LeBron James, Ward was neutral, appreciating both Curry's and James' talent on the floor.
"I think you can't stop either one of them," said Ward. "They're going to get their points, so it's pretty much going to be up to what the other eight players on the floor are doing."
One subject Ward is willing to indulge in is Curry's young daughter, Riley, who captured the hearts of fans across the nation (and on the internet) with her post-game media antics.
"I saw the postgame interviews — she's adorable!" said Ward. "She definitely has a lot of personality."
The Warriors are set to host Game 2 of the Finals on Sunday and Ward hopes to be there to support his team. But just because he's behind his team bringing a championship to the Bay Area doesn't mean he's lost sight of his own championship in Denver.
"I'll be happy about it, but I've got a championship that I'm trying to win right now," said Ward. "It's going to be all great, don't get me wrong, but I'm looking forward to this season and winning a home championship."