Following the Warriors hasn't always been easy.
I've followed the team now for about 30 seasons. Some of you have been at it even longer. In that time, the best the team has ever done was make the second round of the playoffs. I remember three different seasons that brought a lot of new fans to the team.
The first season was in 1990-91, when Run TMC upset the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. That team was a lot of fun to watch, with their complete lack of inside presence offset by having three prolific scorers on the perimeter and a coach just wacky enough to compete in a league dominated by big men. In the playoffs that season, Tom Tolbert led all Warriors big men in minutes with a paltry 12.9 minutes per game. And they beat David Robinson and the Spurs. Needless to say, it was an exciting series, and Run TMC became one of the most memorable teams in the league.
The second season was in 1993-94. Well, really it was June 30th, 1993, when the Warriors traded the #3 overall pick, along with three future draft picks, to the Orlando Magic for the draft rights to Chris Webber. Coming off of a prolific two seasons for the Michigan Wolverines, Chris Webber and the Fab Five had captured the imagination of the entire hoops-viewing world and changed the culture of basketball. He was one of the biggest stars in basketball before he had even played an NBA game. Shorts grew longer, hip hop played through the arena P.A.s, and the Warriors finally had a star big man to team with Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin, and Latrell Sprewell. The team won 50 games in Webber's inaugural season and attracted a new owner in the process.
Of course, we all know how that ended, and the Warriors struggled mightily for the next 12 seasons. I moved to Colorado in August of 1994, about two months before the downfall of my beloved Warriors. Following the team became a serious chore, as they were out of the spotlight and rarely played nationally televised games. I would comb the back page of the sports section, piecing together the results of loss after loss, searching for some sign that the team could return to relevance.
"Do you like sports?" people would ask me.
"Yeah, I love basketball! I'm a Warriors fan." I would eagerly reply, hoping beyond hope to have a basketball connection with someone, anyone, that could talk about anything besides Kobe.
"Oh, where are they from?"
The team sucked.
The third wave of new fans discovered the Warriors during the 2006-07 season. The Dubs, after missing the postseason for the past 12 consecutive seasons (in a league where over half of the teams qualify), made a few dramatic moves. They had already brought in Baron Davis, and they hired rebuilding master Don Nelson to return to the bench. Then they made a trade and brought in Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson to supplement Andris Biedrins, Monta Ellis and Jason Richardson. JRich's dunk contests had been about the most exciting thing for Warriors fans since the Webber fiasco, but now there was talent on the roster, especially on the perimeter. Perfect for a Don Nelson team.
That team would finish the season on an 18-5 run, closing the schedule with a 9-1 streak to squeak into the eighth seed and a series against a 67 win Dallas Mavericks team. Nelson's new team always played well against his old team, already amassing three wins against them in the regular season, and the table was set for what may be the biggest upset in NBA history.
"We Believe" became the rallying cry from the fans, and then the nickname for the team. Suddenly, celebrity fans like Jessica Alba started showing up at Roaracle Arena, since there was finally a competitive team to go with the best fans in the NBA. The parties would start on the BART, and the arena was so loud some people thought that an earthquake was happening. It was an exciting time, and the Warriors fanbase grew again, this time bringing in a new generation, many of whom had no memories of the Warriors former success.
Where we are now
Now the Warriors are in first place. It's March, and the team hasn't surrendered it's top spot in the conference since they took it on December 3rd, when the Memphis Grizzlies lost their third game of the season and fell to second place. And if we've learned anything at all about winning, it's that winners attract new fans.
I was wearing my Draymond Green jersey on my way to work last month and I stopped to get gas.
"Man, I love that jersey," random guy at a gas station in Loveland, Colorado says to me. "Are you a Warriors fan?"
"Yeah, I'm a die-hard Warriors fan."
"I looove watching the Warriors play! Steph Curry is AWESOME! Who's Green?"
"He's just another player I really like. Have a good day man. Go Warriors!"
There's been some internal strife recently, and some of our longtime members have been upset with each other during what should be our happiest season as fans since the mid 70's. Whether or not you believe David Lee is awesome, Shaun Livingston is earning his contract, or Brandon Rush deserves his roster spot, we all agree that we're here because we love the Warriors. For those who haven't read it before (or anyone who just wants a refresher), here's our community guidelines.
Some of us get our feathers ruffled when people suggest that Barnes isn't great, or Mark Jackson was a bad coach, or that Javale McGee might be a decent 3rd center. I'm guilty of it too, rushing to defend any perceived slight against Draymond and Iguodala. That's OK, just try to keep the conversations cordial. Let's face it, what makes us the best is all of the individual voices from around our community.
Regardless of who your favorite player is, the name on the uniform that matters most is on the front, and you are welcome here! That's why I decided to write this article. The Warriors are bringing in new fans left and right, and I want to extend the welcome mat out, courtesy of the most "Unstoppable, baby" blog on the internet, Golden State of Mind.
So please, let's appreciate how far the team has come. If you're new or old here, please take a moment to comment and say hello, and maybe share with us your favorite Warriors player, memory, or even how you got into the team. We're glad you're here, and we'd love to hear why!