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Raiders inspired by Sharks playoff run and other recent Bay Area sports success

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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

What a time for Bay Area sports right now. The respective championships in every major American sport has gone through the Bay Area in the past couple years. First with the Giants as recent as 2014, then the Warriors last year, then the Super Bowl being played in Levi's Stadium this year, and now the San Jose Sharks are headed to the Stanley Cup finals.

Of those major sports, the NFL is the only one which doesn't play host to both teams vying for the championship for several games in a series. Having the Super Bowl played in your backyard is great and all, but it would be preferable to host the Super Bowl parade, not the game.

Watching the Sharks go after the Stanley Cup and the Warriors in the Western Conference finals trying for another NBA Championship is exciting times. To be surrounded by such sports success gives a team like the up and coming Raiders a standard by which to aspire.

"We feel the excitement and we're part of it because we're proud of them," Jack Del Rio said. "The Sharks are doing well. Heck, I was at a game last week and they're playing really, really well right now. So to feel that excitement, to be a part of it, I think it's awesome.

"We're one of the pro teams here. We certainly take pride in representing this area. The fans that are here are awesome. So we want to do our part and play great football. We talked about when I got here last year in the opening press conference, talked about return to greatness, and that was the goal. Obviously, what they're doing right now is great and we want to be a part of that. I'm excited about it."

This will be the first time in Sharks franchise history they will head to a Stanley Cup Finals after finishing off the St Louis Blues Wednesday night with a dominant 5-2 victory. It was sweet redemption for a Sharks team that back in 2014 had a 3-0 series lead on the LA Kings only to blow it and lose the series 4-3. The Kings would then go on to win the Cup.

Last year the Sharks didn't make the playoffs at all, so to see them pull it together and shake off the demons to make their first Stanley Cup is pretty miraculous.

The Warriors set an NBA record with a 73-9 record last season and were looking to cruise back to a second-straight NBA Finals appearance, but are currently facing a 3-1 series deficit to the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder. They return to Oracle arena tonight for game five, facing elimination. They will have to reel off three straight, including game six in Oklahoma City to earn a return to the Finals.

It's the level of excitement the Raiders haven't felt in 14 years. That was the last time they were a playoff team, making a trip to the Super Bowl where they would lose to the Jon Gruden coached Buccaneers going away.

For that matter, this is the first time since those playoff teams in the early 2000s that there was anywhere near this level of buzz surrounding the Oakland Raiders. Could they live up to those expectations and join the ranks of the other Bay Area sports teams and make a playoff push? Equally important could be if such success would help keep them as a Bay Area sports team.