So you’ve decided to become a Warriors fan. We know — you’ve always been a huge Kevin Durant fan. So it’s only natural that you continue to root for his team. Or perhaps you’ve been watching that guy who just retired in LA and decided it’s about time you watched a truly great team that shares the ball with beautiful harmony. Or maybe you’ve heard about this incoming rookie, Patrick McCaw, and want to get ahead of the curve before he becomes a star.
Whatever brought you here, congratulations! It’s one of the best decisions you’ll ever make, particularly given the timing. The team changed just enough this summer that someday you might be able to convince people that you didn’t just join the bandwagon simply because the Warriors assembled the most dominant team of all time going into the 2016-17 season.
Regardless of your rationale for joining the bandwagon now, you’re probably looking for help getting acquainted with this monster of a team. But we’ve got you covered! And here’s everything you need to know to avoid outing yourself too easily as a newcomer to Dub Nation.
But this is the absolute last call for those joining the bandwagon — the train is leaving the station! All abooooard!
Critical relevant history
The history of the franchise is too long to cover in this primer, but highlights include Wilt Chamberlain 100 point game, Run TMC, Rick Barry (shoot those free throws underhand, kids!), the late Nate Thurmond and Don Nelson. Look up these bright spots in the Warriors’ legacy at your leisure. What’s important to know today is that while the 2014-15 title was actually the franchise’s fourth, it was the Warriors’ first in 40 long years.
The trying years between titles are critical to understanding what makes Dub Nation tick, because Golden State’s recent dominance is completely foreign to us. I mean, we’re not going to Cleveland depths and eating — and this is true — horse poop after being gifted a championship. But it’s still mind blowing to Dub Nation that the franchise has achieved this level of greatness and is primed to go down in history as the greatest ever.
Team ownership has been critical to the Warriors’ success. Chris Cohan, the devil incarnate before Donald Sterling, was exposed as the real devil incarnate, playing a central role in the team’s ineptitude as the owner from 1995 through 2010. During Cohan’s tyrannical reign, the team went to the playoffs just once (see “We Believe” below). You read that correctly — once, in 16 long years. The Warriors finished just two seasons with winning records under Cohan, regarded by everyone as one of the worst owners in the league. These were depressing times, made more disappointing by irrational optimism at the beginning of each season that maybe the team was finally turning a corner with their newest draft pick …
The best thing to come out of this dark era for Warriors basketball was the inexplicable support of Dub Nation at every game. This is where the fans earned their reputation as the best fan base in the league. Despite the blown draft picks (hello, Todd Fuller and Patrick O’Bryant), inadvisable personnel actions (they really traded Chris Webber away for Tom Gugliotta) and pitiful results on the court, Dub Nation faithfully rallied behind the team for every game.
For all the things that the Cohan administration got wrong, fortune fell into its lap in 2009 when the Warriors drafted Stephen Curry with the seventh overall pick. Curry had zero interest in coming to Golden State at the time, but the Warriors drafted him anyway. The Warriors were actually set on trading that pick to Phoenix as part of a package for Amare Stoudamire. But when Curry remained available (thanks, Timberwolves!), the Dubs wisely scrapped the deal and kept the future league MVP for Golden State.
Fortune begins to shift
Fans cheered about one year later when Cohan finally sold the team to the current ownership group, led by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. As the deal was negotiated, Lacob and Guber approved the Warriors’ offer to sign a high profile free agent in All-Star David Lee. Until then, free agents like Gilbert Arenas and Baron Davis would customarily leave Golden State when able. But, with Lee, the tide began to turn. Again, this was unfamiliar territory for Dub Nation.
However, fans soon turned on the new owners in the aftermath of the trade that sent beloved Monta Ellis to Milwaukee for an injured Andrew Bogut. Attaining an anchor on defense was part of the new owners’ long-term vision and they felt that a back court tandem of Stephen Curry and Ellis would be too small to contend for championships. While it was an unpopular move with the fan base, the franchise finally had a plan for success and was determined to follow it.
Fast-forward through well-executed player drafts at the helm of General Manager Bob Myers and the Warriors added Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli to the squad. Myers also managed to bring in Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa and Marreese Speights to round out what would become the championship roster in 2015. Oh, what a parade it was ...
The Machiavellian strategy of throwing the 2016 Finals
Most recently, the team set a new record with 73 wins in the 2015-16 regular season. Everything seemed to indicate a second consecutive title was on the way until the Warriors realized that they could sacrifice one championship in 2016 for multiple championships with Kevin Durant. The choice was obvious!
Yes, the Warriors famously threw the 2016 NBA Finals with the intention of signing Kevin Durant, who recently confirmed what we all suspected: he wouldn’t have come to the Warriors had they been the defending champs. It was a remarkable strategy that could only be accomplished by a management team that’s #lightyears (see below) ahead of everyone else.
And, up three games to one, the Warriors nearly blew it! Fortunately they found ways to give Cleveland a chance to win. Credit is due to Draymond Green for intentionally getting suspended in Game 5 of the Finals and to Coach Steve Kerr for playing Festus Ezeli and Anderson Varejao for so many important minutes in Game 7.
Morons around the world persist with jokes about the Warriors losing that series as though it wasn’t intentional. But, it’s okay — those fools aren’t #lightyears ahead of anyone. Who can’t grasp that throwing one series for the sake of guaranteeing multiple titles is obviously worth it?
In recent years, Dub Nation has embraced an arrogance that rankles every other fan base to their core. With such a dismal history, it’s outright comical how supercilious Warriors fans have become in such a short period of time. Keep in mind that we don’t honestly feel this way because we’ve been conditioned to expect our team to be dreadful. We almost don’t know what to do with this incredible success.
At the same time, we know how exasperating our cockiness is to everyone else and it feels so good to dish it out. We’re just enjoying the team’s unlikely turnaround in a playful way. And it’s a lot of fun.
So there’s your Dub Nation history lesson! Now, let’s cover what you can expect to see from the team.
Team play characteristics
There are several defining characteristics of the way the Warriors play basketball. To really be part of Dub Nation, you have to embrace and relish the arrogance (see #ArrogantSZN below) that comes with greatness. The Dubs enjoy playing the game and aren’t afraid to share their joy with the crowd and their opponents. When you’re as good a shooter as Curry, you can’t keep it to yourself. You have to share it like this or this or especially this. And Durant is already catching on!
Another part of what makes the Warriors so fun is the fast pace at which they play, which the Dubs initiate by using a small lineup (see Small Ball Death Squad below). You’ll have friends who’ll claim that their team started the small ball trend in the NBA — but they’re idiots.
The first coach to genuinely adopt a real small ball lineup (e.g., one without a true center) was the lovable Don Nelson, coach of the Dubs from 1988-1995, and again from 2006-2010. His lineup of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Sarunas Marciulionis, Chris Mullin and Rod Higgins was seriously small and fairly successful. Nobody else had the guts to use that small of a lineup on a regular basis until Nelson led the way.
And while we’re talking about Don Nelson, let’s just throw out there that he had Manute Bol shooting three-pointers for the Dubs and invented the Hack-a-Shaq strategy while with Dallas. Sound like today’s NBA? So for all the Hack-a-Shaq haters, now you know who to seek out when you invent that time machine. Bottom line: Don Nelson was the pioneer of the game we see today. If he ever bothered to study or coach defense, who knows where the league would be by now. It still wouldn’t be enough to stop the 2016-17 Warriors, but you know what I mean ...
One unfortunate side-effect of playing at a fast pace is the inevitable prevalence of turnovers. If you wanna make an omelet, you’ve gotta break some eggs. When the Dubs take care of the ball, they win big. When they get a little too flashy and/or careless, games get close (but they still win). If there’s anything that you, as a Dubs fan, will yell angrily about in front of the TV (aside from Anderson Varejao getting playing time), it’s the needless turnovers. In the past you would also get upset over missed free throws by Bogut and Ezeli. But they are gone now. So just be prepared for some turnovers when the Warriors get sloppy.
Moving to the other side of the court, the defining attribute of the Warriors is their ability to seamlessly switch on defense. Since the Warriors have height and quickness at every position, particularly when using a small lineup, they switch on defense to counteract the pick and roll. If you’re not familiar with that terminology, just know that the Warriors have enough versatility to allow just about any one of their defenders to guard just about any opposing player. This approach was implemented by Coach Ron Adams and is now being copied throughout the league — except other teams can’t do it as well as the Warriors.
One of the perks of rooting for the Warriors is that the team is composed of genuinely great individuals who love the game of basketball and enjoy being around one another. Team meals are a staple of road travel and the players communicate frequently via a team chat. They treat one another like family and appreciate the uniqueness of each team member. It’s no wonder that Durant wanted to join this squad.
Let’s introduce you to the team!
Stephen Curry: You know this guy. Two-time MVP, including the first unanimous MVP in league history. Best shooter ever with superb ball-handling skills to boot. Incredibly humble, yet supremely confident, to the point of seeming cocky at times. His adorable family is prized by fans and the media. He’s passionate about golf and plays with his bestie — President Obama — when he can. @StephenCurry30
Kevin Durant: You know this guy, too. An incredible shooter who’s nearly seven feet tall. Regarded by many as the best 1-on-1 player in the league, perhaps because he has never played in a system that relies on ball movement. Very religious, like several of his new teammates. He’s buds with Iguodala, Curry and Green, and he was heavily recruited by each of them. @KDTrey5
Klay Thompson: Underrated star. Contender with Curry for title of best shooter ever and also a premier defender. “No maintenance” All-Star capable of putting up 37 points in a single quarter when he gets in the zone. He’s also known for his dalliances with the ladies and for spending time with his dog, Rocco. @KlayThompson
Draymond Green: Heartbeat of the team who never stops talking. When teams learned to double-team Curry at half court, Green became the de facto point guard in the resulting 4-on-3 set. Chip on his shoulder after being drafted in the second round. Bit of a wild card, though. With the intangibles that make him an All-Star with incredible passion, there’s also the technical fouls, suspensions, dick pics (link intentionally omitted), and assault charges. You take the awesome with the disappointing and love him for it. @Money23Green
Andre Iguodala: High basketball IQ. Serves as a security blanket for Coach Kerr. Great defender. Known for cryptic tweets and sardonic interview statements. Prankster. Technology investor. Obsessed with golf. Best bobblehead around. Has the ear of management when it comes to personnel decisions. And he pretty much runs the league from under the radar. @andre
Shaun Livingston: Veteran leadership with the old man game (back to the basket). Fourth overall pick in 2004 who blew out his knee so badly that his career, leg and life were in jeopardy. After a remarkable comeback — described here — he clearly appreciates the opportunity to play for titles. We’ve been hearing that he’ll start shooting threes in games for a while, but it hasn’t materialized yet. @ShaunLivingston
Zaza Pachulia: Took less money for the guarantee of a ring this year. Only non-All-Star among the projected starters, though fans nearly voted him in last year, thanks to Wyclef Jean. Looked uncomfortable at first in Andrew Bogut’s former role, as a facilitator on offense. But he seems to be fitting in better with time. @zaza27
David West: Ring chaser. Last season, West gave up $11 million to leave the Pacers for a slim chance at a title win with the Spurs. Now, he and everyone knows his best odds are with Golden State. He’s always been a solid shooter and a thoughtful, strong person. Many don’t realize that he’s been protesting during the National Anthem for years, out of concern for social justice issues. @D_West30
Ian Clark: Looking to find a place in the rotation. His shooting is getting more impressive by the day and he clearly works hard. While turnover prone, expect him to get minutes this year after the Warriors rack up insurmountable leads in the first quarter. @IanClark
Patrick McCaw: Can he live up to the hype? Everyone and their mom, including Jerry West, is talking about McCaw’s potential. He seems to have a high IQ and great feel for the game. Durant has already taken him under his wing — that’s gotta be a good thing! And the man has some pipes and ain’t afraid to use ‘em! @PMcCaw0
Damian Jones: An injured mystery. A pectoral injury has the Warriors’ first round draft pick out of commission. But hopefully he’ll heal up and get some experience at the center position during the season. For now, we can empathize with the Sixers as they deal with Ben Simmons’ injury — same impact on both teams, really. @dameology
Warrior fans feel your pain Philly. Our first round pick is out injured too. Stay strong— sam esfandiari (@samesfandiari) September 30, 2016
James Michael McAdoo: Unrealized potential. For all the praise directed his way by the coaching staff, he hasn’t shown signs that he can make his way into the regular rotation yet. Still waiting for his game to blossom, but he’s made a run at Rocco recently with an Instagram post of his two dogs, Marlowe and Maverick. @jamesmcadoo
Kevon Looney: The 30th pick of the 2015 draft missed most of last season with an injury. Fans are hoping to see what he can do this year. Based on the preseason this year, he appears to rebound well and can finish plays. Good potential here. @Loon_Rebel5
Anderson Varejao: The Cavs offered Varejao a ring for their 2016 championship and it’s unclear whether it’s because he played for Cleveland during the first half of the season or because he helped throw the Finals to Cleveland. Varejao is known for his hustle, lack of skill, and especially flopping. Dub Nation is still wondering why Golden State kept Varejao over fan favorite Marreese Speights. But Varejao seems to be popular in the locker room. @VAREJAOANDERSON
JaVale McGee: Insane physical ability but perhaps not enough focus to harness it. Legit seven-footer who is athletic enough to finish lob dunks and defend at the rim. Former Nuggets teammate Iguodala encouraged the Dubs to give McGee a shot. Apparently hilarious and well-liked, but his rat tails have to go. Pronto. It should be a condition for granting him the final roster spot on the team. @JaValeMcGee34
As with any community, there’s particular terms and concepts within Dub Nation that you’ll need to learn.
Small Ball Death Squad (SBDS): When the Warriors use a lineup without a true center, asking Draymond Green to guard the opposing center, it’s referred to as the SBDS or Death Lineup. It’s deadly to opponents because it overloads on quickness and three-point shooting while maintaining the versatility and size to still defend supremely. Coach Kerr opts to use this lineup for short stints to avoid burning out the undersized players on defense, but prefers to close games out with this lethal unit.
Strength in Numbers: This has been the team’s motto under Kerr, suggesting that the depth of the roster is one of the team’s assets. While the Warriors have had strong contributions from the bench, including those of Iguodala, Livingston and Speights, Kerr seems to take this too far by playing other reserves longer than necessary. But it sounds nice as a motto!
#lightyears: When Joe Lacob speaks, he’s unabashedly confident. Lacob told The New York Times Magazine, “We’re light-years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we’re going to go about things.” And it’s this advanced state of enlightenment that allowed the Warriors to see that they should throw the 2016 Finals in order to sign Durant. And, even before that, they had Thompson and Green sign for a little less than the max to leave room for Durant in 2016. Lacob recently said, “It’s been an incredible run, but it’s nothing compared to what you’re going to see in the next five years.” #lightyears is all you can say in response to that.
#ArrogantSZN: A hashtag to use when being obnoxious about how dominant the Warriors are. Particularly appropriate when the Dubs flaunt their cockiness on the court.
#FireKerr: When Kerr sticks to the principle of Strength in Numbers a little too much, some of Dub Nation starts up with the #FireKerr tweets. And if the Finals loss wasn’t intentional, they’d have a legitimate beef. But since Kerr was throwing the series, playing Ezeli and Varejao was actually a #lightyears move.
Three-point Rifle: When the Warriors make three-point shots, players on the bench simulate firing three shots of a shotgun straight into the air in celebration. See #11, here.
Dubs: The Warriors are called the Dubs for the letter W at the beginning of the team name.
Roaracle Arena: A nickname for Oracle Arena, where the Warriors play in Oakland. The fans earned this nickname for the loud, energetic environment they create at every home game. Dub Nation is torn, and mostly bummed out, about the upcoming move from Oakland to San Francisco. But it’s a done deal and the SF arena may open in 2019.
We Believe: When the 2006-07 Warriors remarkably made the playoffs as the eighth seed, they knocked out first-seeded Dallas with a theme of “We Believe.” The Warriors gave Utah a good run for its money in the second round, ultimately losing the series — but not before etching in stone a lasting legacy with this lethal dunk by Baron Davis over Andrei Kirilenko.
Golden State of Mind: Your #1 resource for everything Warriors.
Sports reporters covering the Dubs:
- Tim Kawakami @timkawakami
- Marcus Thompson @ThompsonScribe
- Ethan Sherwood-Strauss (aka, Radio Ethan) @SherwoodStrauss
- Anthony Slater @anthonyVslater
- Monte Poole @MontePooleCSN
Entertaining Twitter voices:
- Golden State of Mind @unstoppablebaby
- Julie Phayer, team photographer @juliephayer
- Amin Elhassan @AminESPN
- Sam Esfandiari @samesfandiari