To set a little context, I started following sports when I was 8 in 1971. By 1974, the Giants had gotten rid of Willie Mays and Willie McCovey and had started to suck. The 49ers got rid of John Brodie and started to suck. The Warriors got rid of Nate Thurmond and Cazzie Russell... and at that point I was dreading more of the same.
Don't know how many of you have been watching the CSNBA rebroadcasts of the 1975 championship run, but they are a total treat. Every Friday night they've been showing these, starting with Games 6 and 7 of the Conference Championships against the Bulls, then games 1, 3, and 4 of the Finals against the Bullets. Not only are they showing the whole games, but there's added current-day commentary from Al Attles and Rick Barry. More details after the jump.
However, they did keep one bona-fide superstar in Rick Barry. Then they surrounded him with very young, unselfish, team-oriented talent. Cliff Ray and George Johnson manned the center spot. Man, until these rebroadcasts (and no, there weren't even VCR's back then), I forgot what a force Big George was down the stretch. Phil Smith and Keith Wilkes were awesome rookies. Guys like Butch Beard, Derrick Dickey, and Jeff Mullins were making big contributions.
The Warriors entered all their postseason rounds as big underdogs. They not only made it to the finals, where they were widely predicted to be swept, but they completely turned the tables and swept the Bullets! Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes... siddown!
I recently played a little pickup ball with Phil Smith's brother. We talked about those old Warriors and I complained about how they pulled the biggest upset in the world and didn't even get the cover of Sports Illustrated. They just got a two-page story with one photo! Phil's brother said that back then, none of the national media wanted to give credit to Al Attles, who had just become the first African-American head coach of a major sport champion. Until I saw these rebroadcasts, I forgot K.C. Jones was coaching the other side, so it was going to happen either way.
Again, if you want to see team ball played the way it should be, catch the last game this Friday. I am so thankful that CSNBA did this.