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Imax got game with Golden State Warriors

Fans flocked to watch the NBA powerhouse when a game was live streamed at an Imax theater last week. On Wednesday the Warriors could set the NBA record for single-season wins.

Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for American Express

Editor's note: We are republishing an edited version of this April 8 story ahead of Wednesday's game, in which the Warriors could set a single-season NBA record for wins.

Jose Martinez kept checking his pockets last Thursday. He wanted to make sure he had his ticket to witness basketball history: watching the NBA champion Golden State Warriors live on an Imax screen.

"Sorry, bro, I gotta make sure I get a good seat," said Martinez of East Palo Alto, California. "I heard it's sold out."

The Warriors, who played the San Antonio Spurs in the first pro basketball game shown at an Imax theater last week, have a chance to make history again on Wednesday night. If the Warriors prevail, they'll set the NBA record for most wins in a single season with a record of 73-9. That would edge out the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who notched a 72-10 record.

Golden State's chance couldn't come in more dramatic fashion: the game against the Memphis Grizzlies is the final match of the season.

A week ago, the Warriors, one of the hardest tickets in sports, brought their brand of basketball genius to an Imax theater in Newark, California. All-Star sharpshooter Stephen Curry stood nearly 60 feet tall on a giant wall-to-wall screen that transformed the theater into a mini basketball arena. More than 250 raucous fans crammed in to watch as the Warriors beat the San Antonio Spurs 112-101.

The event had all of the trappings of a game: bright lights, thumping music, nonstop cheering, plenty of hot dogs and fans nearly falling out of their seats leaping for free T-shirts shot out of cannons.

"I can't believe this hasn't been done before," Ngai Pham of nearby San Leandro said amid the hoopla. He has attended four Warrior games in person this season. "This is the next best thing to being at Oracle Arena."

Called "Dub Nation to the Imax," the event marked the first time a sporting event was live-streamed on an Imax screen in North America. It was exclusive to customers of American Express, the sponsor, and tickets were gone within five hours. Many fans began showing up at least two hours before game time.

Fans watch the Golden State Warriors play the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday during the first live-streamed sports event on an Imax screen in the US.

Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for American Express

Live streams are likely the closest many fans will get to see the Warriors in person. On StubHub, tickets for Wednesday's game at Oracle Arena in Oakland ranged from $349 for a nosebleed seat to nearly $16,000 to sit VIP courtside. The team's home games, located about 20 miles north of the Newark theater, are perennially sold out. In fact, there are more fans on the waiting list for season tickets (over 20,000) than can actually fill the arena (19,596).

"It's getting too expensive to go to the games," Denise Choi of San Francisco said last week, adding it was worth waiting 30 minutes on the phone to get two tickets to the Imax event. "Real fans will do anything to see the Warriors."

American Express' live stream of the NBA game isn't the first time Imax technology has been used to rope in sports fans. Several FIFA World Cup soccer matches were shown at an Imax theater two years ago in Melbourne, Australia.

At the Imax event, blue and gold confetti filled the air after the game. An ebullient Eduardo Ronquillo of Emeryville, California, who has been to three Warriors games this season, asked the obvious question aloud: "Are they going to be showing more games in Imax during the playoffs?"