It was an end to a miserable era, a 40 year death march, an up and down- talent here, talent wasted Golden State Warriors 40 year catastrophe. The Warriors went nine years without making the playoffs (1978-86). They went thirteen years without making the playoffs (1995-2006). They drafted Purvis Short instead of Larry Bird. They whiffed on Clyde Drexler. They drafted Chris Washburn generally considered one of the biggest busts in NBA history, using their #3 pick on him. That was in 1986 and they still had another 29 years of disasters awaiting them.
The Warriors traded players who they never should have drafted, waived players, underused players, overused players. One player choked the coach. Another player refused to take shots. The Warriors had All-Stars that could never find a way to the NBA Finals. Chris Mullin. Sleepy Floyd. Bernard King. Tim Hardaway. Latrell Sprewell. They had Chris Webber but, of course, traded him.
The Warriors had coaches who are considered great: George Karl, Don Nelson, Rick Adelman and Greg Popovich who was an assistant coach in 1994-95.
“Five playoff appearances, 13 playoff victories total; three no. 1 overall picks and two other picks in the top three; eight players traded who ended up starting a championship team or making a first-or-second team All-NBA (Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Chris Weber, Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Gus Williams, Jamal Wilkes, Bernard King), three future Hall of Fame coaches who passed through on their way to a better place, two valuable bench guys buried in Golden State who thrived elsewhere (Mario Elle and John Starks), an All-Rehab Starting Five (Bernard King, Michael Ray Richardson, Chris Mullin, Chris Washburn, Maurice Lucas) and a Hall of Fame Absolutely-Coulda-Drafted-Him Starting Five (Bird, Garnett, Kobe, T-Mac and Payton)”- Bill Simmons, Grantland
And so it was, all of the horrific history was buried on page 320 of the Golden State Warriors Book of Hell. On Tuesday night in Cleveland, Steph Curry was an extraordinary point guard. Andre Iguodala, once again, provided an offensive spark while continuing to guard LeBron James. Draymond Green had a triple-double. Shaun Livingston was complimentary off the bench as his length made guarding him with the Cavs mis-mash unit impossible. The Warriors went small all game long and the Cavaliers had nothing, exhausted, tired, fatigued and in over their heads without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
The Warriors had a 13 point lead after the first quarter and the game was never really in doubt, though at the end, a couple of J.R. Smith triples, plus Iguodala’s misery at the free throw line, provided latent drama but it ended the way it started, with the Warriors capping off this great season with a victory, a championship and an ignorance of their 40 year history that once prompted Bill Simmons to call the Warriors the most tortured franchise in professional basketball.
Tortured, no. Champions, yes.
photo: Rand Soto