Aiko Nillo never expected that he’d be going to a NBA game for free. But on October 19, after posting a tweet referencing San Leandro’s beloved Taqueria Guadalajara in response to Golden State fan forum @warriorsworld, he was surprised to find that the team’s forward Juan Toscano-Anderson had promised him a pair of tickets.
The Alameda-based fan, who just so happens to make these dope Warriors illustrations, quickly accepted. It took nearly two months, but Toscano-Anderson kept his word by sending Nillo two tix to the Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers clash this past December 8.
That act of generosity is just another example of Toscano-Anderson’s philanthropic awareness, in which the player has made a habit of giving back to his hometown community, inspiring fans, and bringing a sincere positivity that isn’t always seen at the professional level of sports. As the product of an East Oakland family—not to mention, only the fifth player in NBA history with Mexican heritage—Toscano was impressed by Nillo’s joke about Mexican food, and he decided to make the fan’s lucky day.
A few days after the game, I caught up with Nillo to ask him about his experience at the Chase Center. Here’s what he had to say.
48HILLS First things first, have you eaten at Guadalajara before?!
AIKO NILLO Of course! I feel like it’s a Bay Area staple. It’s just one of those spots you have to try. I usually get a tripas burrito. People are always turned off after they find out what it actually is [intestines]. But if you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it. Recently, I’ve started to get the carne-asada-and-chicharrones combo burrito.
48HILLS I’m sure you never expected that a Mexican restaurant in East Oakland would be your literal ticket into the Chase Center. Who did you bring with you to the game and where did you actually get to sit?
AIKO NILLO I brought my mom. We sat section 123, row 14 … pretty damn close to the action.
48HILLS Did you do anything to celebrate the moment?
AIKO NILLO I bought Draymond Green jerseys for my mom and me as our celebration. Side note: my mom loves Draymond and she always says that’s her boyfriend [laughs].
48HILLS Everybody loves Dray! What were some highlights of your experience as a fan that night?
AIKO NILLO Just seeing my mom get excited to watch the game was my highlight. My dad just passed away this May, and they would always watch the games at home together, so it was really special to see her enjoying herself. I would have given them both my tickets so they could watch it together if he was still here.
48HILLS Sorry to hear about that. The beautiful part about sports for me is how it brings us together and creates memories with the people we care most about. Have you gone to a game with him or your mom before?
AIKO NILLO Yes, I took my mom when they played the Raptors in November.
48HILLS Based on the “We Believe” jersey you wore in the photo you posted online, as well as the basketball content you share on social media, I know you’re not just a bandwagon. Besides this cool moment, what are your favorite memories of being a Dub Nation fan?
AIKO NILLO There’s so many moments … the “We Believe” season; Antawn Jamison’s 51 vs. Kobe; Jason Richardson winning the dunk contests; Klay’s 37 point quarter.