When the Warriors drafted Stephen Curry in 2009, the franchise was stuck in a strange tailspin somewhere along the journey from despair to hope and back to despair.
The We Believe Team had been torn apart. Cohan was still running the show. Baron Davis decided to split to play with Elton Brand and the Clippers, but then Brand decided to split to play in Philadelphia. Life was mysterious and unforgiving.
A small, gangly, "baby faced assassin" from Davidson had recently shot himself into the unexpected position of America's Sweetheart. He reportedly wanted to play for the Knicks, who held the eighth pick in the draft. I remember that draft well. I was already living out here in Brooklyn, NY. The rag papers were furious when the Warriors selected him. Mike D'Antoni, who had recently been hired in Madison Square Garden, coveted Nash 2.0. A few years later, D'Antoni was gone--sent packing, shuffling down a long, well trodden road named Broken New York Dreams--and Steph's star was rapidly ascending out West in the land we call The Bay.
Initially, for my introductory front page piece for Golden State of Mind, I was asked by Nate to pick my favorite Warriors player of all time and explain why. I thought perhaps I'd reach back, far into the past. I remember being a kid when the Dubs selected Joe Smith. I remember, even at a young age, wishing they had taken Jerry Stackhouse purely on the fact that his name was cooler. (Who's ever heard of a superstar with the name Joe Smith? Sounds like a CIA operative who becomes so comfortable with his cover job as an inflatable pool salesman in Boise, Idaho that upon discharge from the government moves back to the same town and just resumes pool sales for lack of a better idea. Stackhouse sounded like 'Brickhouse' and I was super into that song at the time. But, I digress.) I thought about Mullin, or Hardaway, but honestly I was too young to fully appreciate them.
Stephen Curry is a man of the future, much as this team. This Warriors team, lauded from all angles, has been built by the genius of Bob Myers, the persistence of Joe Lacob, and most importantly, by the straight up luck we got that night in 2009 when we drafted Curry. None of the currently crashing dominoes even start to teeter if we don't take Curry with the 7th pick. Much as Steph is a man of the future--portending an NBA of coming years in which shooting and basketball IQ are heralded above all other skills--the Warriors are also a team of the future. They are primed to move across the bay to San Francisco, home of technology. Home of shining sky scrapers. Home of forward thinking, progressive fans. I just hope the true, oldest fans in Oakland don't get cast aside and disenfranchised in the process.
As we sit back and watch Curry on a nightly basis, I like to take time here and there to thank the basketball gods for sending us such a man. And to thank the front office for having the courage and internal fortitude to believe in this team. Believe in them enough to get them the coach they deserve, Steve Kerr, and believe in their chemistry enough to hold off on trading Klay for Love. How strange is it now that the men and women in the front office seem to be the ones leading the cry of "WE BELIEVE! WE BELIEVE IN KLAY! WE BELIEVE THAT INTANGIBLES ARE IMPORTANT! WE WON'T TEAR APART THIS TEAM!" Man, it's amazing what a few years can do. Remember when we booed Lacob?
Curry is headed to his second straight All Star game. I know I'm beating a long-deceased equine here, but does that happen if Lacob doesn't have the balls to make the move for Andrew Bogut? Does Curry ascend so rapidly? Does Klay Thompson step out and become arguably the best two guard in the league? I mean, Curry beat out LeBron James as top All Star vote getter this year. How surreal is that?! LeBron? Damn. You know how popular that guy is? Like, reallyreallyreallyreallyreally popular. Not only here but abroad. In Europe and China and Japan and probably in the Alien MotherHover Ship in orbit just outside our solar system streaming games from a year or two ago, everyone is all-in on LeBron. And yet somehow it is our diminutive shooting star, Curry, who is now firmly established as the Face of The NBA. Much as he shot himself into the title of America's Sweetheart, he has now conquered the popularity contest for which the top five or ten players in the world vie: Face of Basketball.
This is the team the Bay Area has long deserved and Steph is the man to lead us not only into All Star Weekend, but into the future. Come what may.
One last thought. Anytime you find yourself getting too optimistic about the Warriors title chances, take a DEEP breath and a large step back. Let's all remember where we came from, and be grateful for what we currently have. If you need something else to take your mind off your current ecstatic mood, something else to bring reality back in to the picture, I give you these Werner Herzog Inspirational Posters. You're welcome. It'll help with managing the expectations, trust me.