By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
The Golden State Warriors could be called the class organization of the (NBA) National Basketball Association as they stride to win their fourth championship in five years. This is the team of the decade that keeps on adding pieces to their winning puzzle and breaking records in the process. Now the Golden State Warriors are chasing the ghost of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls.
OAKLAND, CA.-The last time the Bay Area had an NBA Championship this writer was a freshman studying African-American History at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, it was the spring of 1975.
The young Golden State Warriors had a very colorful team with an abundance of talent then like they do now. With players like Hall of Fame starters Nate Thurman, Jeff Mullins, Jamaal Wilkes, Phil Smith, and Rick Barry.
In the summer of 2014-15, it happened all over again with another group of talented basketball players like Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee-Draymond Green, and Harrison Barnes. It’s fun to watch this new wide-open basketball style similar to the Golden State Warriors team of 1975.
The 2015-16 team continues to break NBA records season after season with The Hampton Five-Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green, and Iguodala. Bay Area Sports reporter Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News labeled the five players after recruiting Kevin Durant to join their team in The Hamptons, a group of towns in Long Island where the rich and famous go on vacation.
The group name changed from The Death Lineup of 2014-15 when former Warrior Harrison Barnes joined the Hamptons in 2015-16 with Durant. Kawakami wanted a new name and head coach Kerr and the team loved it, so did the media.
The Warriors started their record-breaking 2015 season with 24-0, winning 54 straight at home games and 73 overall games for the season. The Warriors set the record for 3-point attempts. There are so many records they (Warriors) can write their own book. At the end of this era, Golden State might own every offensive record in the league.
This team did all of this plugging in different players year after year like center JaVale McGee, with the defensive demon forward-guard Draymond Green and elder statesmen Andre Iguodala from the Denver Nuggets with the addition of all-star center Kevin Durant from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Players wanted to come to the Bay Area to play in Oracle Arena.
The Warriors were created in 1946 in the City of Brotherly Love Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Warriors became a charter member of (BAA) The Basketball Association of America with their first owner Peter Tyrrell. The BAA became the National Basketball Association in 1950.
The 1946 Philadelphia Warriors drew instant fame by winning the league’s first championship with Joe Falks their leading scorer. They won the Western Title the following year and lost to the Baltimore Bullets four games to two.
Nine years later the Philadelphia Warriors beat the Fort Wayne Pistons four games to one to win their first NBA Title and second professional basketball title. It would be the last one for another nineteen years and a move to their west coast home, The Cow Palace- the first California home which is in South San Francisco miles away from the downtown district.
The Cow Palace was an oversized barn that hosted many other events including the Warriors in 1962. In the 2019-20 season, the team will return to the city of San Francisco in the Mission Bay district with their new Chase Center and three more NBA titles.
LOGO & MASCOT
The San Francisco team placed the new Indian head logo on their warm-ups over their hearts. It was as if the team was honoring the Native American population. The Native American logo would be removed in 1964 and replaced by two logos the Golden Gate Bridge and the State of California. They replaced the Golden Gate Bridge in 1971. The team then changed to the California State logo which ended in 1988 to the current Bay Bridge logo.
The Golden State organization understood the growing discussion about Native American logos and mascots. The Warriors abandoned their first basketball dribbling and smiling Native American mascot and logo for a more majestic and serious Native American Indian head in 1962. It was similar to the Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Blackhawk logo of the 1960s.
This was the first NBA team to be named after a state instead of a city. The team also dropped the famous trolley cars on the back of their uniforms that same year and added the state of California on the front like Major League Baseball’s California Angels.
Today they wear the new Bay Bridge span on the front of their jersey with multi-colored uniforms that remind fans of the old Philadelphia Warriors days.
In 2008 Golden State dropped the Thunder mascot adopted in 1997. The Warriors had to abandon the Thunder mascot because the Seattle SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to become The Thunder. Golden State gave up the trademark to that name and logo without a fight.
This team would be the only team in the league to play in three cities in one year, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose. The Warriors played in these cities until the new Oakland Alameda County Coliseum opened and then again when the arena was refurbished in Oakland, thus the name Golden State to represent all fans in Northern California.
This team had seven different logos three mascots, 14 uniforms, nine owners and 22 head coaches. The San Francisco-Golden State Warriors were the only team in the league with white shoes on the floor 1959-1970. Just like their baseball cousins Oakland A’s, and hockey pals Oakland California Seals. That has become an Oakland tradition.
They had fights in the 1970s with players like Rick Barry over contracts, had fights with coaches over their playing styles, Don Nelson (twice), Mark Jackson, and just had fights in practice with Latrell Sprewell choking then head coach P.J. Carlesimo.
They would lose three more championships but continue to make NBA history. Wilt Chamberlin still holds the scoring record with 100 points. It was ironic that the second leading Warrior scorer that game was future head coach Alvin Attles with 17 points. Both will be forever linked to NBA history.
The San Francisco team had only one owner, Franklin Mieuli until he stepped down in 1986. In 1962 The San Francisco-Golden State Warriors moved to the Cow Palace in Daly City, South San Francisco playing there 10 years. The new flamboyant owner, Mieuli wore his famous brown private investigator hat always tried to get the best players on the floor enabled the team to enter the playoffs.
The Golden State Warriors went into free fall after the Mieuli ownership. Jim Fitzgerald was chairman of the Milwaukee Bucks until 1985 when the team was sold to Herb Kohl, a former U.S. Senator. In 1986, Fitzgerald and Dan Finnane, also been involved with the Bucks, took over the Golden State Warriors, which they owned through 1995.
At the time he owned each of these teams, Fitzgerald had only a “handshake agreement” with Don Nelson, head coach of both teams in turn, not a contract, an arrangement which reflected the friendship and trust between them. In an era of lawsuits and countersuits, this “contract” was unique in professional sports.
Co-owner Christopher Cohan tried to destroy this historic franchise with confusing trades and strange hiring’s. He finally sold the team in July 2010. The Bay Area almost lost this team twice under the leadership of Cohan.
In May 2009, an unnamed editorial writer in Sports Illustrated listed the top ten best and worst owners of basketball teams in his opinion, ranking Cohan as 4th worst. He criticized Cohan for sticking with Coach Nelson as part of the Warriors’ generally poor performance apart from their 2007 playoff first-round upset of the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks. He pointed out that Golden State was repeatedly rebuilding without much success.
Mr. Gray is not a Nelson fan and thought he stayed in Oakland too long, the Sports Illustrated editor was right.
Head coach and General Manager Don Nelson thought he was the star of the show. Nelson thought he was the attraction that fans came to see, not the players. It is called the Boston Celtic ego effect.
This all came to a head in 1995 when Rookie of the Year, Center Chris Webber and veteran forward Latrell Sprewell could not see eye to eye with Head Coach Nelson. All three individuals would leave Oakland that following season, the beginning of a new era in the Bay Area.
Don Nelson would return to Oakland in 2007-2010 with the goal of getting the record for most coaching wins (1,335) in the league passing the great Lenny Wilkins of the Seattle SuperSonics. Nelson also has the dubious record for the NBA coach with the most losses 1,063, which nobody speaks of. Nelson rode off in the sunset of Hawaii.
The Warriors could be called basketball’s Cleveland Indians with Larry Doby. Golden State had the 2nd African-American coach in the NBA, he came from an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) North Carolina A & T University, Alvin Attles.
Attles became the 2nd African-American coach to win NBA Title in 1975. Al Attles moved up in the organization after two years of coaching to become the General Manager and the longest tendered employee in the NBA. This will be 59 years in blue and gold. Attles had his Aggie number 22 retired in Greensboro, North Carolina, in Aggieland.
Attles head coaching stint was sandwiched in between these two legions. The first African-American head coach and NBA Champion was Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics in 1962. Lenny Wilkins became the third Black head coach to win with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979.
The Warriors won Western Conference titles multiple years but could not win the NBA title. They lost to the Boston Celtics for the championship in 1964 with the rookie Nate Thurman. Golden State used the first version of the twin towers offense with Wilt Chamberlin and Nate Thurman.
The Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers and The Warriors played a six-game series in 1967. That big tall center and ex-teammate would haunt them after the trade to Philadelphia. Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlin and the Sixers won the NBA Title in 1967.
The future still looked bright for the Warriors with a young skinny shooting forward-guard named Rick Barry from Elizabeth, New Jersey and a University of Miami graduate. It would not last long as the growing feud between management and Barry continued. Mr. Barry bolted to the new (ABA) American Basketball Association, Oakland Oaks.
MARK JACKSON ERA
The Jackson Era started ten years ago when the Warrior management hired Mark Jackson as head coach. Jackson never had a head coach position so it was a work in progress. Jackson put on the hard hat and improved this franchise.
Jackson taught this team how to play that famous New York Knick style defense and it worked. This is a defense where you deny the opponent a path to the basket with double teaming the ball and doubling the cutter to the basket forcing them to throw the ball back out of the lane. The opponent has to start their offense play again.
YOU WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS THROUGH DEFENSE
The World Champion New York Knicks would prove that twice.
The building blocks were being put in place in 2011. Jackson learned this tough defense from his Eastern Conference Championship days in New York and Indiana. The Warriors went to the playoffs in back to back years that had not happened since 1994-95.
When Jackson took the helm in 2011, the franchise had made the playoffs only one time over the prior 17 seasons, averaging only 30.2 wins per year during that period. Jackson, became just the third head coach in franchise history to lead a team to at least 50 wins in a season, joining Don Nelson and Alvin Attles, who both hit the mark twice with the Warriors.
With 121 wins overall, Jackson ranked fourth on the franchise’s all-time, trailing Attles (557), Nelson (422) and Eddie Gottlieb (263). Current Warriors head coach Steve Kerr achieved his 300th victory this past January the fastest in NBA history, 5 years.
Mark Jackson still does not get the credit for turning this losing battleship around, for getting the players to believe in themselves and that they could win with hard work and defense. Jackson created a winning culture in Oracle Arena that has carried over to the Kerr administration.
The new Splash Brothers were born in the Jackson Era.
With guard/forward, Klay Thompson and guard Stephen Curry finally rewarding the loyal Warrior fan base with victories, and playoff series wins, and NBA championships.
Mark Jackson could not get this young team past the second round and those pesky robotic San Antonio Spurs stood in their way.
The Golden State management wanted a title and they wanted it now. Many thought Jackson was not the man because of his inexperience as a head coach and his stubbornness to stay with repeated old offensive plays.
Those same individuals stated he won because of the talent on the floor, not his coaching abilities. It cost him his job. Jackson did what most young African-American coaches had done in the past, resurrect and fix a flawed terrible franchise.
Jackson’s final undoing was his rift with two assistants coaches which continued to grow until Brian Scalabrine resigned and Darren Erman got fired for the differences of philosophies and behaviors on the bench.
On May 6 The Warrior management relieved Jackson of his coaching duties. Many players were not exultant with this decision because Jackson was a player’s coach and a man they could talk to about problems on and off the floor.
Others believed that he was let go because of his Christian spiritual life and unwillingness to give up his religious doctrine. Others stated the rift happened because of the openly gay/lesbian policies of the new Warrior organization which he did not agree with.
Whichever reason Jackson was shown the door.
STEVE KERR ERA
The Warriors moved swiftly to replace Jackson with the stroke of genius hiring Steve Kerr. Kerr played point guard for the NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs and for Michael Jordan’s 3-peat Champion Chicago Bulls.
Mr. Kerr turned down the New York Knick offer a few weeks earlier and walked into a gold mine of talent in Oakland. He could work with Oakland’s new superstar shooting guards Stephen Curry and Kay Thompson because he played in the league as a guard.
His (Kerr) team went 48-4 in 2015 before the All-Star Game, the best record in the NBA. They had a 24-0 start and The Golden State Warriors broke and will break NBA offensive records each time they take the court became normal. The Warriors won the first four games by the largest margin, 100 points.
Winning 73 games in one season, scoring 93 points in a half, scoring 12 three-pointers in a half by Thompson and Curry. This year the “Dubs” -the fans pet team name, shattered the assist record with 43, 3-point record with 24, and free throw record with 68 team percentage. The team clinched a playoff spot the earliest ever on Feb. 27th.
Curry could be the first player to hit 300 three-pointers in back to back years. In 2015 they hit 933 three-pointers as a team. Curry and Thompson became the first pair to hit 600 triples in one year. The Warriors have broken 8 more NBA records this year with no signs of slowing down.
Bay Area fans are now having open discussions about a Golden State Warrior dynasty. If they win this year it will be four titles in five years with a three-peat. Only the Minneapolis Lakers, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Chicago Bulls (2) have done that.
The Golden State Warriors currently play a spread offense which put pressure on the other team’s defense. The Warriors are always cutting toward the basket, if they are open they continue to drive to the basket with an easy layup or throwing the ball back out to an open player over the three-point line for easy jump shots, this is the way the Warrior offense works. This year with the addition of Demarcus Cousins in the middle at center they now have a big heavy legitimate shot blocker and interior scorer.
With Marc Jackson’s New York Knick style defense and Steve Kerr’s San Antonio Spur-Chicago Bull style offensive they are good to go.
It is fun to watch the Golden State Warriors win their 4th title in five years.
This team has shut down the high scoring Portland Trailblazers, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers, and Los Angeles Clippers with their clamp-down defense. This team can blow out any team on any night because of their firepower at each position point guard Steph Curry, off guard Klay Thompson, power forward Draymond Green, strong forward Kevin Durant and center Demarcus Cousins.
History in progress.
NOW TO GET THAT FOURTH CHAMPIONSHIP IN FIVE YEARS.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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