Golden State Warriors

The guys behind the brilliant signs at Sunday’s Warriors-Clippers game

Sometime in the first quarter of Sunday’s game at Oracle Arena — when Steph Curry was raining down threes at will — this tweet popped up in my Twitter timeline.

It probably popped up in yours, too. A few minutes later, it was there again, and again, and again. And then came the blog posts from Buzzfeed and SBNation. And more tweets and retweets.

The signs were perfect.

A simple, powerful and effective rebuke to Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling after news broke late Friday night on TMZ.com that Sterling had told his then-girlfriend V. Stiviano in recorded conversations not to post photos of herself on Instagram with black people or bring them to Clippers games. He specifically instructed her not to associate publicly with former Lakers star and current Dodgers owner Magic Johnson.

I wanted to know the story behind the signs. On Monday, I caught up with the two guys behind the simple message.

Nick Gudgeon (@nickgudgeon) is a fitness guru and personal trainer in South Bay. He’s known Google executive Jonathan Rosenberg for years, first as a trainer, and more recently as a close family friend. Rosenberg is a Warriors’ season suite-holder and has shared many games with Gudgeon over the years, going way back to when the Warriors “were awful,” Gudgeon said on Monday.

Rosenberg shares the suite mostly friends and family and when there are extra tickets, he encourages Gudgeon to bring friends along. On many occasions, Gudgeon’s been in the suite with his buddy Freddie Malory (@MrMalory), who works at Rosie’s McCann’s Irish Pub on Santana Row in San Jose. That was the plan for Sunday’s Game 4 between the Warriors and the Clippers.

Malory stopped by Gugdeon’s place Sunday morning to pick him up for the drive to Oracle. When Malory walked in, Gudgeon said, “I have to make a sign. I have to respond to Sterling’s crazy comments.” Malory was all for it. To him, Sterling’s conversation with Stiviano was “shocking.” “How can he talk about the Clippers players like they’re property?” he said to me Monday night.

While Gudgeon took a fast shower, Malory ran to get some poster board. When Malory returned, Gudgeon knew exactly what he wanted to write on the signs. Malory agreed.

Gudgeon is white. Malory is black. They’ve been friends for a while and have never thought of each other as “my white friend” or “my black friend.” Sunday morning, they looked at each other and knew the message they wanted to send.

They finished the signs, hopped in Malory’s car and headed to Oracle. When they arrived at Rosenberg’s suite and showed off their signs, the universal reaction by Rosenberg and his family was: “They’re genius.”

As they held the signs up from Rosenberg’s suite, Warriors fans around Oracle shot back with thumbs up and peace signs. Jeremy Gordon — a Vice President for Engineering at Twitter — snapped the now-famous photo of Gudgeon and Malory holding the signs and tweeted it out to his followers. Within minutes, the tweet and the photo had spread like wildfire.

Malory’s cell phone was ringing and ringing, with news from friends that the photo of him and Gudgeon with the signs was everywhere. “You’re on SBNation!” His mom got word of the signs and the photo while spending time with some friends. She called Malory and exclaimed, “What are you doing online?”

What was he doing?

He and his friend were making a quiet but profound statement about their friendship and their disgust with Sterling and his abhorrent comments.

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