Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Department or Program Chair

Jordan Lieser, PhD

First Reader

Jordan Lieser, PhD


This research aims to highlight the significant impact the Golden State Warriors have had on the commercialization of sports. This is especially relevant and corresponds to the Warriors back-to-back championships and their rise from an overlooked team to one of the most popular teams in the National Basketball League (NBA). According to Forbes, the Warriors have gone from NBA obscurity to the third most valuable team in the NBA. The objective of this research is to prove the importance of both physical prowess and business savvy in the sports world to become truly successful as a professional franchise. As the NBA has evolved, the Warriors serve as an ideal case study for hyper-commercialized professional sports. This can be seen through branding tied to their on-court performance, financial ownership strategies, and international market growth, especially in China. Successful branding strategies have allowed the Warriors to corner the retail market with their merchandise (Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have the #1 and #3 most popular NBA jerseys) and the Warriors also lead the league in team merchandise sales. The Warriors’ skillful financial stewardship has separated itself from other NBA ownership through the creation of the Bridge Club, the use of Silicon Valley precepts, and the cultivation of relationships with both majority and minority shareholders—some tactics that are now being copied elsewhere. Finally, the international market growth, especially in China, is seen through the “China Tour” presenting well known Warriors players in highly promoted preseason games abroad. The Golden State Warriors are pushing professional sports into a new era, where hyper-commercializing maximizes profits well beyond ticket sales and investments become diversified well beyond the arena. Copycats abound, but the Golden State Warriors, thanks in large part to their on-the-court-success, are an ideal case study for this next stage in the history of professional sports.

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