A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to join Bram and Nate on the Golden State of Mindcast to talk about this Golden State Warriors season and the team in more historical terms. In addition, we discussed some of the books that have come out recently about the Warriors (which I’ve written about here and here).
Between the robust conversation we had on that podcast as well as some of the feedback I’ve received from that appearance and the reviews I’ve written, it seemed like a good idea to make this a bit more official.
So I’ll use this as the opportunity to tip off an ongoing series called Tom’s Fire Book Chat (with a nod to FDR’s Fireside chats, because we love our history around here). It’ll feature full-length reviews like what I did for Golden Days and Betaball. It’ll also include other interesting examples of basketball-related reading I’ve done that, in one way or another, connects back to the Warriors (like what I wrote about the Warriors and John McPhee’s book about Bill Bradley, A Sense of Where You Are). It might include reading not-related to basketball but that still relates to the Warriors and the NBA. It could include other things but those examples give you a sense of what I’m thinking about doing with this.
Without further adieu, let’s get into something that has been on my mind since that podcast that I wanted to explore a bit further.
Leroux’s book provides a wide-ranging and highly readable history of the Warriors franchise
Of the recent books focusing on the Warriors, the one I haven’t had an opportunity to write about has been Danny Leroux’s 100 Things Warriors Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. As opposed to Erik Malinowski’s Betaball and Jack McCallum’s Golden Days, Leroux’s book does not tell a specific story or examine a particular facet of the Warriors’ ascendancy to the top of the NBA. Rather, Leroux sets out to cover the franchise’s history (at least since they moved west from Philadelphia), which has perhaps eluded the casual basketball watcher or people who have only recently started keeping up with the Warriors.
Leroux’s book certainly accomplishes that, providing a great compendium of the Warriors and their history, from the days of Wilt Chamberlain and Nate Thurmond all the way to these teams of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and now Kevin Durant.
In addition to the major players and events, Leroux's book covers plenty of things that I didn’t know much about — things I’d forgotten about or wanted to reconsider. I mentioned those early 80’s Warriors teams on the podcast and a player from those teams like Larry Smith as the parts of Warrior history I would like to know more about. Leroux’s book certainly covers that, helping to fill in some of gaps that exist in my mind between the Rick Barry-championship seasons and the dawning of Run-TMC.
Even though I lived through early-to-mid 90’s of Warriors basketball, it was useful to read about those times as well, revisiting them in a concrete way and not through the hazy and subjective view of memory.
I, like most Warriors fans, remember the Latrell Sprewell-P.J. Carlisemo choking incident. But Sprewell’s tenure as a Warriors player before that, when he looked like he could be a cornerstone for the franchise going forward, was something I had no real memory of and Leroux provided very useful context.
One hates to be an armchair author, but I do wish Leroux had done a bit more in terms of the “and do” part of his book title. There are only a few of those in the book while the majority of the 101 things are “to know.” On the one hand, I do understand why that’s the case and there are only so many things you can say a fan needs to “do” but I do think there could have been opportunities to play around with that or expand that section of the book.
That said, Leroux’s book is a great encapsulation of the Warriors’ history. If you’re someone who is new to the Warriors and want to learn about the Warriors history before this time, 100 Things Warriors Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is definitely a book for you. If you’re a long-time fan and want to take a trip down memory lane (mainly to remind you of how good we as Warriors fans have it now) then this is also something you should read.