Sunday, March 30, 2014

Full Squad Fierce!

A funny action happened in the Bay at the beginning of the Millennium's 2nd decade that had every fan of Golden State Warriors scratching their heads. When Don 'Nellie' Nelson (his second stint as Warriors head coach, and last successful coach to take Warriors to playoffs in 1990's) brought The City a splashy entertaining team in 2007, a window opened leaning towards promise of repeat playoff success. Yet, brisk gales of staunch West Coast opponents quickly shut the glass panes, when it was clear the team Nellie and fans idolized was built one sided-run and gun offense. Realizing Golden State Warriors were continuing down the much too familiar yellow brick road to nowhere, fans and speculation pointed to Oracle tycoon Larry Ellison to invest and accelerate success in a solid Bay Area franchise. Before arguments could be formed on the pros and cons of an 'Ellison' owned NBA team, fans and Media were taken back when Joe Lacob and Peter Guber were announced as purchasing The City's NBA pride, Golden State Warriors. I know I was not alone at googling the new owners. Who are these guys and what intentions do they have with an NBA team? If we knew then what plans they had to bring us to what appears to be back-to-back playoff appearances, and best record since 1994, The City would have rolled out a Golden Carpet!

The partnership of Lacob and Guber acquired the Golden State Warriors in 2010. After short term success with Nellie's reprise coaching appearance that pumped up Golden State Warriors as potential playoff contenders 2007-2009,  NBA fans and analysts quickly realized there were missing pieces for Warriors to be serious contenders at the next level. Little did anyone with a finger on the pulse of 'The City' franchise realize a venture capitalist teamed up with a Hollywood producer would have a winning formula hidden in their Gucci wallets. The Bay Area community were flipped upside down when news broke that two seemingly unknowns had the purchasing power stronger than Larry Ellison to acquire one of the hottest franchises in the Millennium, The Golden State Warriors. In the sizzling Summer of 2010, everyone within a 50 mile radius of Oakland, California became familiar with the likes of Joseph Lacob and Peter Guber.

Leading up to the team's sale, the franchise had some tangible products in place in Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, and David Lee. The obvious sore spot that everyone thought was locked up was a big man, a bona fide Center. Andris Beadrins displayed a minute of hope. In the "Believe" run in 2007, Andris had one of the most influential break out moments in NBA history. In one Season everything Andres did on the hardwood worked; he was everywhere on both ends of the floor blocking shots, retrieving rebounds off the defense and offensive boards. Every tip drill that he practiced Paid off in a dreamy contract. As far as anyone knew, the scrappy line up of Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Andris Beadrins, Matt Barnes, and  Stephen Jackson appeared stable to continue contention as one of the top eight Pacific Division teams in the NBA West. It only took a year for the Golden State Facade to unravel before everyone's glittery eyes at Oracle Arena. The next two Seasons were bitter disappointment for everyone invested in the Golden State Warriors. Baron Davis left for the Hollywood lifestyle, signing with Los Angeles Clippers. Matt Barnes left; and the most famous and fastest performance collapse occurred with Andris Beadrins. With a head coach more interested in hosting Who's Who poker games in Hawaii, and an ownership seeming content to keep with the status quo, a boisterous grievance was going to be heard across the NBA community regarding dissatisfaction of affairs regarding lack of direction present in the Warriors franchise.

Fans, journalists, and local media knew the team was stagnate, and there was a demand to transition the franchise in to hands of an owner who would give more than two cents about winning, bring Golden State Warriors back to legitimate contention for a NBA title. The request was granted in 2010. The Golden State Warriors changed hands to Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. Before exiting, one acquisition Don Nelson did make in the 2009 draft, was acquiring Stephen Curry from Davidson. It was a pick that was peculiar. Considering the assumption new owners would build the team around Monta Ellis, everyone wanted to figure out how two strong shooting guards would work in the line up. It wasn't long before ownership and a new appointed GM gave us a poignant reply, by trading away Monta Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks for big man Andrew Bogut (who was injured at time of trade). The 'Dream Team' we all adore in 2013-2014 began in humble and misunderstood beginnings of centering The Golden State Warriors Quest for a title around arguably one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, Stephen Curry.

Ownership began ruffling comfort when they made a head snapping change in the front office dropping Chris Mullin (a beloved former Warriors player, and standout Community member) and promoting upcoming whipper snapper Bob Myers as General Manager. Myers began overhauling the line up, coaches, and opinion. At the beginning of bold changes starting in 2010, there became looming doubt about new ownership and their intentions with Golden State franchise. Were they interested in winning? Or were they drawn by one of the most profitable NBA teams with a solid fan base? We quickly had our answer on their intentions when they announced hiring Jerry West as a consultant. Key pieces that were added were Klay Thompson, David Lee, Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, Dramon Green, Festus Azeli, and recently, Jermaine O'Neil, and Andre Igoudala. Exits included Jeremy Lin, Stephen Jackson, and a very hefty contract unload to Utah Jazz, Andris Beadrins. In three years, three coaching changes, and multiple moves in a twelve man roster, it appears the front office team of GM Bob Myers and Consultant Jerry West have created a premier contender for NBA West Title. When Golden State Warriors are at full squad with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee, Andre Iguodala, and Andrew Bogut healthy and starting games, they're literally unbeatable!

Looking back, Golden State fans have been treated with a flashy and exciting product, always displaying highlight reel dunks, sky hooks, alley oops, crazy beyond the arc treys, and spinning layups. Considering Golden State Warriors have only made the playoffs twice in last 20 years, the stands at Oracle were always filled with supportive diehards enjoying Warriors brand of basketball. Were fans more interested in a great show versus wins? It appeared that fans and sports media may have been satisfied with a zesty show, rather than showing up in the playoffs. Of course, fans and sports media were leery if any vision of the team's outlook would change with new owners. An unfortunate assumption amongst jibber jabber loud mouth fans and analysts alike were if new sports franchise owners could (or even aspired to) execute success, where previous owners fell flat? One reflection never made was the owners' individual success they've both made to place them in a position to acquire an opportunity to manage a NBA franchise, in hopes of attaining the NBA's highest prize, the Larry O'brien trophy. Joe Lacob and Peter Guber obviously possess leadership and decision making attributes we admire. The owners know how to build a management team that will reach goals they've established for Golden State Warriors. It's obvious now, Golden State owners and their annointed General Manager have created a change in Culture and expectations between coaches, players, sports writers, and most of all, the best fans in the NBA helping protect "Warriors Ground". The landscape has changed perusing the Western/Division front, and The City has pried the window back open!

This fan (along with Warriors Nation) looks forward to that day I know will happen sooner than later, a Parade down Broadway, in Oakland with a well fought for Larry O'Brien trophy in The City's hands!

Last time Golden State Warriors won a NBA title? I wasn't even 10!

Enjoy a trip back to Rick Barry's year of glory!

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