The We Believe Golden State Warriors were special. You’re a Warriors fan, so I probably don’t need to tell you that.
Even 13 years, three rings and one dynasty later, that We Believe team stands out as not only special, but memorable.
Until Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green made the playoffs in 2012-13, the We Believe squad stood as the only Warriors playoff team in 18 seasons.
But they weren’t just special for that reason, and they weren’t just special for being a highly lovable crew that dripped swagger.
They were also special because they represented the last great underdog that the NBA has seen.
This week is “Underdog Week” at SB Nation, and so I’ve been thinking about the We Believe Dubs for a while. I’ve been wondering: When will we ever see an NBA team like them?
Eventually, I’m sure. But we haven’t seen a team like them since, and it could be a long while before we see one again.
The 2006-07 Warriors didn’t just pull off a stunning upset against the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs. They pulled off a monumental upset that doesn’t even come with the “well, don’t forget the context” asterisk.
For instance: Since the Warriors became the first 8 seed in NBA history to upset a 1 seed in a seven-game series, the feat has been repeated. In the 2011-12 season, the Philadelphia 76ers upset the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round.
But the context is a necessity, as reigning league MVP Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the first game of the series. It was over almost before it began.
There’s no such asterisk for the Warriors. The Mavericks were healthy. Not only healthy, but they weren’t the token weak top seed that comes around every few years. The Mavs had the league’s MVP that year in Dirk Nowitzki. They won 67 games and finished with a +9.1 net rating. They were legitimately coming off one of the best regular seasons in NBA history.
And the Warriors didn’t have a flukey scenario on their end, either. It’s not like they had an injured superstar who returned just in time to carry the team to new heights.
They were a legitimate fringe-playoff 8 seed. Taking on a legitimate elite 1 seed.
And they won.
They had no All-Stars that year. Baron Davis and his two All-Star appearances (in 2002 and 2004) were the only All-Star nods that anyone on the We Believe team had or would have in their careers. Last year’s Warriors squad had more MVP trophies than the We Believe team had All-Star appearances, in the rear view mirror or in front of them.
And they not only won, but cleanly dispatched the title favorites, winning in six games, with their average margin of victory being 14.8 points.
Four years later, a remarkably similar Mavericks team would beat the LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh led Miami Heat to win an NBA title. From the Mavs perspective, it was some poetic justice, and the chance to finally forget 2007. From the Warriors perspective, it further cemented just how huge their series upset was.
We’ll see more upsets in the NBA. They come around regularly.
But it’s been 13 years and no one has pulled off an upset of We Believe’s magnitude. Something tells me it will still be a while longer before we see an underdog of the Warriors stature pull off a win like that.