There's a lot of new blood following the Warriors lately.
I mean, I get it. Back to back Finals appearances, a Larry O'Championship trophy, and a small ball lineup that would probably beat last season's Eastern Conference All Star vote leaders (Lebron, PG, Melo, Wade, and Lowry) in a head to head matchup. The Dubs play beautiful basketball on the court, and the best players in the league are taking paycuts to be in Oakland. Every single conversation about the NBA right now includes the Golden State Warriors.
Let's just take a moment to soak that in.
Magazines, TV, newspapers, radio, conversations. I bought the league pass just in time for the Warriors to get 60 games televised. The Warriors are everywhere.
It hasn't always been this way. I left the Bay back in 1994, about two months before Webber and Nellie decided to rip the still-beating heart out of an all time "what-if" roster, and the Warriors took the next 13 or so years off from winning basketball. Other than We Believe and a moment of infamy when Spree choked PJ, the Warriors were completely forgotten outside of the Bay.
People would ask when I told them I was a Warriors fan, "Is that a college team?"
Things just aren't that way anymore. Everyone knows the Warriors, and most people have an opinion about them. I used to pour over the back page of the sports section to see if the Larry Hughes/Bobby Sura backcourt is everything I ever imagined, but now the Warriors couldn't get more publicity if they married a Kardashian. From the loudmouth shock jocks on the big networks to the number crunching super analysts throughout Al Gore's Interwebz, there's no shortage of Warriors coverage.
When I found GSoM several years ago, I just wanted to talk about the Warriors with really knowledgeable Warriors fans. It wasn't just the information presented, and it certainly wasn't the prose. No, what kept me coming back here was the discussion. The community. The presentation... that seemed to come from a real fan's perspective.
Every media outlet in the country seems to be covering the Warriors. They tell me about Klay's new shoe contract, but they don't mention that Klay seems to slip every time he's wearing the Antas, and that he sometimes changes back into his Nikes mid-game. Die hard fans told me that. And that's what I intend for this diary to be going forward: a die hard fan's perspective on the Warriors, the NBA, and maybe more sometimes.
I've got a lot of ideas for the diary entries, and I'll try to keep them coming as often as possible. For now, we're just going to talk about a bullet the Warriors dodged.
Before this month, Corey Maggette was the biggest free agent signing in franchise history.
He was brought in to team up with Jamal Crawford, Monta, SJax, and Biedrins, forming the nucleus of the most unwatchable offense of Don Nelson's career. The "We Believe" days were over, and fans at a fledgling Golden State of Mind found solace in the surprising performances of 'Buike, Ammo, and CJ Watson.
I loved that God-forsaken team. We would argue about Turiaf, Randolph, and Brandan Wright, postulating that a real big man, a 20-10 big man, was the missing ingredient needed to return our team to prominence. The summer of 2009 began with the Warriors holding the #7 draft pick, a roster full of perimeter scorers, and a coach on the verge of retirement.
Then the rumors started. Apparently Amare Stoudemire had worn out his welcome in Phoenix, and Suns GM Steve Kerr was looking to unload him for the right package. Stoudemire had a track record of putting up great numbers while leading his teams deep into the playoffs, and the Suns were hoping for a package centered around the Warriors' draft pick. As the draft approached, we speculated about the trade rumors and what direction the Warriors would go in. Most of the mock drafts at the time showed the Warriors drafting Jordan Hill, a rebounder that would add to our offensively-anemic corps of big men.
We had a little apprehension about losing Anthony Randolph's untapped potential, but otherwise, Curry/Randolph for a one year Amare rental seemed like the answer to all our problems.
Word on the street says the Warriors were about to pull the trigger on the trade with the Suns when Minnesota drafted two point guards but left Stephen Curry on the board. Nellie had made it clear that Curry was the guy he'd wanted from the start, and when he slipped down to the Warriors spot, the conversation was over. Larry Riley hung up on Kerr, the Warriors drafted the first unanimous MVP, and Amare played himself into a huge contract for the Knicks (most of which he spent dealing with injuries before retiring yesterday).
That was a close one. Trading Curry for a one year Amare rental would have gone down as a worse move than Joe Barry Carroll for McHale/Parrish. After decades of making all the wrong moves, the Warriors finally got one right.
If there was ever one single NBA moment that led us to where we are today, at the crest of the sports world and the tip of everyone's tongue, it was the moment that Don Nelson wanted Wardell Stephen Curry II more than an All Star big man.