Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
The Golden State Warriors experienced one of the most unique years in recent NBA history, hitting rock-bottom before slowly making their way into NBA respectability.
To recap 2012: Megavideo was shut down (I may or may not have relied on this to watch every movie before it hit DVD), Eli Manning beat Tom Brady in another Super Bowl classic, LeBron James finally won his first title, Apple released 600 new products (probably false) and becomes the largest company in the world, SF Giants win their second World Series in three years, Usain Bolt steals the Olympic limelight in 28.95 seconds, Nate Silver becomes more famous during the election than Mitt Romney, and the year gun control finally became a mainstream issue that everyone was unfortunately forced to discuss.
And in that tumultuous and unforgettable year, the Warriors did something that has never been seen in franchise history, starting the year with losses, losses and more losses and ending it with three straight wins against teams that were in the playoffs last season.
The beginning and end points belie what was a truly disappointing, special and intriguing year that the Warriors put together. It was everything in between that truly characterized and distinguished it as the year of 2012.
1/10 With the season starting on Christmas Day because of the lockout, the Warriors start 2-6 but most importantly, Curry suffers an ankle sprain. One of five severe sprains that lingered throughout the year and would take him out of the last 28 games of the season.
1/25 Andrew Bogut fractures his ankle playing for the Milwaukee Bucks. No Warriors fans cared about this at the time.
Quick note: Before the season started, there was talk about the Warriors losing on purpose (tanking) if the season got out of hand because of the Marcus Williams trade that forced the Dubs to give up their first round draft pick if it fell past the number seven slot.
2/13 After a strong three-game win streak that put the Warriors at 18-21, they were in position to contend for a playoff spot, albeit an outside chance.
3/14 Amidst zero speculation and rumors, the Warriors essentially flip fan-favorite Monta Ellis for aforementioned injured Andrew Bogut. And so began Tank City.
3/20 The most harrowing point of the year when I was simultaneously ashamed and proud to be a Warriors fan. The Sports Guy summed it up nicely in a post dedicated to the sad history of the Warriors franchise.
4/14 Tank City in full effect when management pulls David Lee for rest of the season with a "hip injury". Or something. Charles Jenkins, Jeremy Tyler and Klay Thmpson (all rookies) in the starting lineup. It was amazing to see fans still fill the arena despite the lack of good basketball.
4/24 Chris Wright goaltends Marco Belinelli (another fan favorite, or just my favorite) at the buzzer to hand the New Orleans Hornets the game, and send the Warriors to another loss. Confetti falls because Tank City.
4/25 Stephen Curry finally undergoes ankle surgery.
4/27 The NBA front office make the Warriors and yours truly wait (or refresh Twitter feed about a million times) for something as trivial as a coin flip, which they win, to own a 72.4 percent chance of keeping the seventh pick.
5/30 No surprises as the Warriors keep the pick. However, if you are one to point to recent history as a barometer for projected results well... WHO ARE WE KIDDING? Everyone thought the Warriors would Warriors'd it up and lose the pick.
6/28 Harrison Barnes falls to the Warriors at seven after the Cleveland Cavaliers snatch Dion Waiters at number four. Then they select big man Festus Ezeli and Michigan State standout Draymond Green, setting in motion one of the best draft classes in recent memory.
7/30 Carl Landry signs a two-year, $8 million deal.
7/31 The Warriors end a solid offseason by signing Brandon Rush after their qualifying offer scared suitors away.
10/16 The Warriors officially announce they will move to San Francisco in 2017 with a brand new stadium. Mark Jackson asks for an extension while giving the speech outside Pier 30/32. Very, very weird stuff. Remains to be seen how feasible it is to build a stadium by 2017.
10/19 The Stephen Curry ankle saga resumes as he sprains it in a preseason game against the Portland Trail Blazers and is held out the rest of the way.
10/31 This doesn't stop the Warriors from signing him to a 4-year/$44 million extension the night before the season begins.
11/2 Brandon Rush tears his ACL on a drive to the bucket in just the second game of the season against Memphis Grizzlies. Extremely painful to watch as everyone could hear his screams and his frustration as if he immediately knew his season was over.
11/7 Andrew Bogut plays his fifth and final game in a Warriors uniform for the year as he takes himself out of the rotation and later admits to hiding specifics of his offseason surgery. The roller-coaster ride doesn't seem to be heading towards an end but winning ways of the team can be blamed for the lack of publicity on the injury.
11/19 CurryAnkleSaga continues with a slight sprain in the fourth quarter against the Mavericks but he rebounds to score 20 of his 31 points in the 4th quarter and overtime.
11/24 This happened.
12/15 Dubs finish a 6-1 road trip, beating Miami on a late Green layup, blowing out the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets. It was the first time they finished a road trip of this length with a winning record since 1970 and have never won six games on a road trip in franchise history. David Lee also managed to average more than 20 points and 10 rebounds on every game of the trip.
12/29 Year ends with the a three-game winning streak and the Warriors 21-10, fifth in the Western Conference and 5.5 games above the Los Angeles Lakers.
So what has all this taught us about the Golden State Warriors in 2012?
It has shown the resiliency of the players and most importantly, management to admit their own failures and plan for future success. They essentially admitted they erred on the side of the wrong when evaluating the backcourt of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. By infusing the team with GM Bob Myers and Jerry West, they didn't wait to try and fix the issues on the roster. Tanking be damned.
Most fans didn't like it. Players didn't like it. Coaches didn't like it. But it was the right thing to do in order to win. By sinking to the lowest depths of basketball purgatory the Warriors finally shook off years of ill will and the stench of constant pessimism. We hope.
The Warriors head into 2013 unsure of Andrew Bogut's future, Curry's perpetual ankle issues, and a playoff berth. But there is one thing for certain; they have the right mixture of veterans, youngsters, coaches, and management that is unafraid to seize the opportunity when it presents itself.
With the new direction of the franchise, there is optimism permeating through Oracle Arena. And maybe in 2013, there will be confetti falling for all the right reasons.