The Warriors are in the playoffs and I am a liar—two unexpected developments from this week in basketball.
See I’ve always maintained that one of the biggest travesties in Bay Area sports history was the premature and misguided disbandment of the We Believe Warriors.
Chris Mullin was right, that squad would have never won a championship. But after living through a decade of simply wretched basketball, Dubs fans didn’t care.
We would have gladly watched Baron Davis and Co. swagger their way to a second-round loss for the next four or five seasons—however long it took for Baron to start eating again.
After Jason Richardson got dealt, and the team collapsed down the stretch that following season, I promised myself I would be content if Golden State could just be good enough again to make the playoffs.
Then somewhere around Draymond Green’s back cut in Miami, I got greedy. Suddenly it seemed possible that Mark Jackson was Jim Harbaugh and Steph Curry was Buster Posey.
Everything that could go wrong had gone wrong for this franchise for a decade, wasn’t it conceivable everything could go right. I mean blind squirrels gotta eat right?
My suddenly misguided expectations have made the Warriors .500 run to the finish line strangely painful. Rather than bask in the glow of a season that exceeded all possible preseason expectations, it’s hard not to feel like the team could be playing better right now.
I’ve realized my sudden appetite for success comes because Warriors fans under 30 have never witnessed the normal ascension of a quality basketball franchise.
Both recent Dubs playoff squads, We Believe and the Weber/Sprewell team, essentially had amazing one-year runs and were promptly disbanded.
Even the supposedly golden Run TMC “era” lasted about as long as Saved By the Bell the College Years. (For the record, could have watched that for another four years as well).
Warriors fans have been trained to think NBA success comes in these fleeting rushes of adrenalin, which are promptly followed by prolonged stretches of despair. When in reality success in the NBA is more of a peaks and valleys process.
The Warriors hit a high point on Tuesday, avoiding another year in the lottery. Next up is a dip back into reality versus their first-round opponent.
I have to keep telling myself that upcoming reality check is okay and in some ways equally as important as anything the team has done this season.
Curry has to find a way to fight through the trap off the pick-and-roll. David Lee can’t keep disappearing at crunch time. Klay Thompson needs to get to the lane as more than just a novelty to allow him to shoot more threes.
These are weakness the players are aware of, but six months sitting at home tasting a playoff loss has a way of driving the point home more effectively.
Obviously everyone in Warrior-land is itching to rekindle some of that We Believe magic, and I expect Oracle to carry this team to at least one playoff victory.
But I would gladly trade a first round loss for an improved team next season, I promise.