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The Dirty Dozen - Part 3 of 3

A dozen years. 12 long excruciating years since the Golden State Warriors made the playoffs. The hiring of Don Nelson is perhaps the best move the Warriors could have made this offseason to end that streak. Nellie was the coach the last time the Golden State Warriors made the playoffs, and hopefully that comes full circle and he is the coach again when the Warriors make the playoffs. But in between the time that Nellie stepped down in the '94-'95 season until last year's heartbreaking '05-'06 disaster, there were many, many, many coaches that have come and gone. What's a common characteristic of losing franchises? The hiring and firing of many coaches. Without further ado, let's take a trip down memory lane and revisit the years between the Nelson sandwich.

If you haven't already, check out Part 1 and Part 2. This last Dirty Dozen article completes the trilogy of futility, years 9-12, season 2002-2003 through 2005-2006, from Muss to Monty.

2002-2003 (Record: 38-44)
Coach: Eric Musselman

I'm taking this with me! (Photo:

The best coach during the dirty dozen was Eric Musselman. He was given his first NBA coaching position and flourished. He took the 21 win team and nearly doubled that win total. He came in 2nd for Coach of the Year balloting (he should have won!) by getting this team to its highest win total since the '93 playoff season using a high octane offense that ranked 2nd in points scored at 102.4 per game. On top of the wins, Troy Murphy averages a double-double, JRich gained popularity with his second straight Slam Dunk title, Jamison once again led the team in scoring, and Arenas was named the Most Improved Player.

Things were finally looking up for this franchise. A 5 game win improvement in the next year with the maturation of our young studs was going to put us back in the promised land...

2003-2004 (Record: 37-45)
Coach: Eric Musselman

These two really liked each other. (Photo:

Ooops. This year turned out to be one of constant injuries and didn't give the team a chance to gel and get the winning record we'd been hoping for. Even with all of the injuries, Muss guided the team to 37 wins. But because he clashed with some of the players and management, he was shown the door despite being responsible for the amazing turnaround.

JRich took over as the lead dog and led the team in scoring. Dampier was in a contract season and played well enough to earn a large contract in the upcoming offseason. What's was possibly most impressive is that the Golden State Warriors went 27-14 at home (nevermind the 10-31 on the road). The were protecting their home floor and the fans were loving it at the rocking Arena.

So out went Muss, and in came a new regime. One was a former player and the other, a popular and incredibly successful college coach.

2004-2005 (Record: 34-48)
Coach: Mike Montgomery

I...I don't know what to do. (Photo:

Oh boy. Chris Mullin took over as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Golden State Warriors and Mike Montgomery was hired as coach. The year started out UGLY. The team was 16-38 and a funny thing happened. Chris Mullin wanted to make a splash so he traded Dale Davis and Speedy Claxton for Baron Davis. The team finished 18-10 and rolled off a 14-4 finish leading to perhaps the first real season of hope.

Baron Davis won back-to-back NBA Player of the Week awards, a feat accomplished by only 7 other players. TMurph averaged another double double, JRich led the team in scoring, and the Warriors set a franchise attendance record averaging 16,350 fans per game.

Oh great things were going to come next year. We would have an invite to that thing they call the playoffs. Our season wouldn't end after 82 games. We could take that permanent "Gone Fishing" sign down from the entrance to the Arena. It was all taking shape so perfectly...

2005-2006 (Record: 34-48)
Coach: Mike Montgomery

Lean back! Lean back! (Photo:

This was the year. The national media predicted the Warriors in the playoffs. The national media predicted the Warriors in the playoffs. The national media predicted the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. Heck, I remember early in the year, the pre-game show had David Aldridge on for an interview about why he was covering the Warriors. They asked him when the last time he was sent to cover the Warriors. Guess which year. Yup, 1993. But we all know what happened. It wasn't any one player's fault, it wasn't all the coaches' fault. Things didn't click blah blah blah, and we ended up with an identical 34-48 record. That meant the Warriors were back on tv during the playoffs, but only during the lottery announcement. Déjà vu.

Even after writing this I feel all dirty. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. I'm going to need a little Nelson to wash the taste out of my mouth.


I hope you enjoyed this "wonderful" trip down memory lane. Knowing the struggles and where we've been will only make this season more exciting and fun to be a part of.

To recap, the overall record after the last playoffs season is 332-620 (0.349 winning percentage). Here's a breakdown of the 12 years of "interim" coaches:
Bob Lanier, Rick Adelman x 2, PJ Carlesimo x 2, Garry St. Jean, Dave Cowens, Brian Winters, Eric Musselman x 2, and Mike Montgomery x 2.

2006-2007 (Record: 00-00)
Coach: Don Nelson

Bring on the playoffs! (Photo:

So you read through all of Parts 1, 2, and 3. Rehashed the last 12 excruciating years. Well I'm here to tell you that this is the year! Nellie ball. Outscoring opponents 130-125. I'm putting my faith in the team. It's a crazy thing to do since our collective hearts are broken every year, oftentimes at the end of November. But this is what it's all about. Belief in your team, belief in the success of your guys. You don't root and cheer for a losing franchise unless you're crazy or no, actually I think we're all crazy. I'm ready for this year. Go Warriors!

Of the twelve years, what was your favorite year?

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