Why The Warriors Have Officially Earned The Rights To Their Name
73–9. Let that sink in for a moment. 73–9…THE greatest regular season record of all time in N.B.A. history. A world championship won in 2015, and on the way to potentially winning another one in 2016 after one of the most difficult postseason runs I have ever been blessed to witness. See, I honestly don’t think that most of us truly understand the significance of any of these achievements. In today’s day and age, we move so fast that we often forget to sit down and truly enjoy the moment. To be honest with you guys, I feel like we’ve been moving so fast, that we have either forgotten to appreciate, or simply never sat down to acknowledge and treasure the last 11 years of Golden State’s uprising. Whether you’ve become a recent fan of the Warriors because of “The Baby-Faced Assassin” also known as Stephen Curry (and his beautiful family of course), or you were around during the days of Warrior fan “favorites” such as Mike Dunleavy and Speedy Claxton, I think it’s important that we all take a minute and admire why this Warriors organization is so special.
Everything that we are witnessing today was started by these two in their own unique ways. Prior to Baron Davis’ (B.D.) arrival in 2005, Golden State fans felt that all was hopeless. With regular season records consisting of 17 wins, 19 wins, and 21 wins, it seemed as if Golden State was going to be stuck in loser mode for the rest of their human existence. But, when Baron arrived, something just felt different about the Warriors. Fans were starving just for a glimpse of hope, looking for any sliver of a chance that the Warriors could make it to the playoffs once more before their days had ended. B.D. supplied exactly what the Warriors were waiting for. His flashy ball handling, exciting style of play, and willingness to do anything to win were pieces that eventually would lead to the big bang in 2007! If you don’t remember Baron’s amazing contribution to the Warriors, check out the video posted below:
However, Baron could not have created any of his magic without his coach, Don Nelson. Coach Nelson, in his second run with the Warriors after coaching them in the 90’s, brought an up and down pace to the game that many Warrior fans are familiar with today. The only two differences between today’s Warriors and the team from years ago were that the Warriors today actually play defense, and they have two of the greatest shooters in the world and potentially in the history of the game. I’d say those are two pretty crucial components to creating a winning squad.
Baron Davis and Don Nelson, along with Warrior fan favorites such as Jason Richardson and Monta Ellis, proved that the gold had not run out just yet in Golden State as they were able to not only make the playoffs in the 2006–2007 season after missing out for 12 straight years, but also made history by being one of a few select teams to defeat a number one seed as the eighth seed.
That Warrior run was short lived, as a season later the team had begun to disperse across the N.B.A. after not making the playoffs once again, although they did win an incredible 48 games. Those amazingly fun four years provided the belief that the Warriors could maybe one day truly get their act together and make a run for a title. And then, this happened:
The guard that no one thought could make it in the N.B.A., that later became a back to back M.V.P. and N.B.A. champion was drafted in 2009 as the number 7 overall pick. During that time, Monta Ellis was the Warrior’s star, and he demanded that either he gets traded or Stephen Curry gets traded because he didn’t see himself being able to work with a ball dominant guard like Curry. Thank goodness the new Warriors management decided to keep Curry for obvious reasons.
This is where it all gets super interesting. During a time that N.B.A. championship caliber teams were simply traded for, the Warriors were able to build from within, and draft most of their key pieces. Andrew Bogut came from a trade for Monta Ellis, which at the time was highly questionable. Andre Iguodala came as a free agent, and David Lee was traded to the Warriors. All of these signings happened at different times, but without them, the foundation for building what we see today would have never happened. The Warriors top three players, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson, were all their own draft picks.
Just because the Warriors finally had the pieces to be a title contender, didn’t mean they were going to be. When Marc Jackson was hired as their head coach, he instilled a defense that we hadn’t seen from a Warrior team for years. Jackson understood that they had the firepower offensively to do damage, but the key to making any sort of run in the postseason was to lock down defensively. Although Jackson did a great job to push the Warriors to the next level, he simply wasn’t the guy to push the right buttons and extract all of the potential from his stars. That’s where Steve Kerr came in.
Now remember, many of the decisions that the Warriors organization had made were under scrutiny because they didn’t make much sense to the outside world at the time. Clearly, management knew what they were doing, and they deserve a ton of credit for the team that we are seeing today. Coach Jackson was loved by the entire team, and the players themselves didn’t necessarily agree with the decision to let him go for Kerr, but Steve has obviously done a miraculous job maintaining Jackon’s defense, while creating an offensively explosive juggernaut, so let’s put that argument to rest.
After struggling to figure things out in the postseason with Jackson from 2012–2014 , Kerr was able to bring them to their first championship in 40 years in 2015.
So why dedicate a whole blog post to the history of the Warriors you might ask? Everything that you have seen from Golden State, including this year’s magical regular season, and arguably even more impressive postseason run would have never happened without the pain, the struggle, and the motivation of the past 11 seasons. Yeah, it might not have been the same players involved throughout those seasons, but the fans that stuck by them throughout everything were the same, and players recognize that. The team can feel the anger and determination to succeed that fans have felt since the beginning.
I remember sitting as a child in my living room watching Fox Sports Net credits on my television screen every end of the season thanking Warrior fans for their support and acknowledging anyone who was involved in broadcasting the worst team in the league’s performances night in and night out. Well, let me tell you, it was all well worth the emotional rollercoaster. Today, we all stand as Warriors, because we, and the players, have fought through so much to be able to stand proudly on our two feat and say as the great Barbosa once said, “We Are Champsionship.”