No, Golden State Warriors didn’t steal 2022 playoff slogan

You’ve probably seen it on social media ads, on Bay Area billboards, on future Hall of Famer Steph Curry‘s warm-up tee, on 18,000 free shirts draped over seats at Chase Center before the Golden State Warriors blew out the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of their opening round playoff series.

For anyone who’s been to a big Bay Area sporting event in the past decade, the slogan probably looks familiar. Beloved Bay Area streetwear brand adapt has been making shirts with the slogan emblazoned across the front for Warriors, 49ers, A’s and even US Olympic colorways since 2011, and even went so far as to trademark the phrase in 2012.

So when “Gold Blooded” suddenly appeared on Warriors shirts and ads, fans thought the franchise had stolen the line from the San Francisco clothing brand originally started by UC Davis grad Evan Lessler in 2003.

“This is all legit, but it’s not surprising you’d say that because a lot of people do,” Lessler told SFGATE via phone Monday. “But it’s an official partnership.”

According to the Warriors, the team will be giving away custom “Gold Blooded” shirts with unique designs throughout the NBA playoffs, and depending how deep the Dubs’ run is, Lessler’s decade-old pun could end up reaching millions.

Adapt’s founder, who grew up in Fairfield and has been going to Warriors games for most of his life, wouldn’t share any details about how the partnership materialized or any of the specifics of how it works financially, but did say he thinks it’s ” great for the brand and great for the bay.”

Lessler did say that as part of the partnership, they’re also selling two limited edition Warriors x Adapt collaboration shirts, which appear to be the only “Gold Blooded” items that actually have the word “Adapt” on them. They’re both only available in the Thrive City Warriors Shop — not Adapt’s online store. None of the Warriors’ ads, in-house marketing or freebie shirts appear to say Adapt (despite the trademark loan), which very well could’ve led to some of the fan confusion.

Warriors chief marketing officer Jen Millet probably added to the confusion in a press release about the partnership that was short on details:

“Gold Blooded captures the love and passion Dub Nation has for this team. There is an incredibly strong bond between the global fan base and the players on our roster. Throughout the 2022 Playoffs, Gold Blooded will celebrate that bond through activations, giveaways and more .”

Neither the Warriors’ main Twitter account nor their public relations Twitter account shared the Adapt partnership release.

So has Adapt seen an uptick in brand exposure?

“Yeah I think so,” Lessler said. “What I really notice is our customers are super excited. We’ve got lots of Warriors fans, Bay Area sports fans that are customers. There’s a lot of excitement and a feeling that ‘Oh, Gold Blooded is being represented in such a great way.'”

Lessler’s 18-year-old company, which opened a brick-and-mortar location in San Francisco in 2012, was forced to close its flagship location during the pandemic. Lessler told SFGATE it’s doing pickup orders now, but he’s still not sure whether it will ever reopen fully.

Adapt Clothing's CEO and creative director, Evan Lessler.

Adapt Clothing’s CEO and creative director, Evan Lessler.

Courtesy of Evan Lessler

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