Warriors' Downfall: Billy Owens to Robert Rowell
The Golden State Warriors championship is a distant memory for many. Management is to blame for this sad reality. If you weren’t born in the '60s and you grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, you have no NBA championship to brag about, but many “what if we…” scenarios float in our minds.
In fact, the last championship of any kind of basketball was Stanford, so we stole their coach and he was laughed out of town to Berkeley. He is now the coach of the Golden Bears.
Despite some early mistakes like signing Mike Dunleavy and Adonal Foyle to long term contracts, Chris Mullin got Warriors' fans excited trading for Baron Davis and making the team from Golden State one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NBA. And just as hope was restored to the Warriors faithful, little by little, hope was crushed until Mullin was sadly let go to the dismay of Bay Area basketball fans. And this is all the evidence you need of bad ownership and bad management that has plagued the Warriors for years.
Kevin Garnett was rumored to be on his way to the Warriors, but reports indicated that it was vetoed by President Robert Rowell because the team would be over the salary cap.
Baron Davis, the heart of the playoff Warriors, was free to walk away and signed with the Clippers.
Monta Ellis was made the league example for his moped accident. Instead of firing himself, he fired Chris Mullin, who as part of Run TMC, excited Warriors' fans until draft picks and trades ruined the team. Rowell fired Mullin for making the playoffs only once in five years. If Rowell didn’t meddle, it was highly anticipated that the Warriors would have returned to the playoffs.
The downfall actually started with the dismantling of Run TMC when Mitch Richmond and Les Jepsen, were traded to the Sacramento Kings for the rights to Billy Owens.
Luckily, the Warriors were able to redeem themselves after stealing Latrell Sprewell in the 1992 draft with the 24th pick. Then, the following year, the Warriors added Chris Webber after trading the rights to Anfernee Hardaway and three first round draft picks to the Orlando Magic, which luckily didn’t amount to much for the Magic.
The next year the Warriors ended up with Clifford Rozier and missed out on names like Jason Kidd, Jalen Rose, Grant Hill, and Eddie Jones. But the Warriors finally felt like luck was on their side in 1995 with the first pick in the draft. Instead, they got stuck with Joe Smith. Drafted fourth was Rasheed Wallace and fifth was Kevin Garnett.
I'm not even going to analyze what a huge mistake that was.
Come 1996, the Warriors management put its faith in Todd Fuller. That's not as hurtful as drafting Sam Bowie instead of Michael Jordan, but the Los Angeles Lakers got Kobe Bryant with the 13th pick, only two later. Peja Stojakovic, Steve Nash, and Jermaine O’Neal were three of the next four picks.
This was probably the worst pick ever, but it gets worse.
In 1997, Golden State selected Adonal Foyle with the eighth pick and Tracy McGrady was taken next. Then we finally draft smart in 1998 by taking Vince Carter with the fifth pick and management decides to trade it away for the fourth pick, Antawn Jamison. And let me remind you that Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce were taken ninth and tenth.
After a few quiet years, the Warriors got the steal in the 2001 draft with Gilbert Arenas in the second round, but Agent Zero walked free because the Warriors didn’t want to pay the man.
In a weak 2002 draft, the Warriors drafted Mike Dunleavy with the third pick. I’m not even going to waste my breath on this guy.
Finally, it seemed like order was restored to the franchise when, in April 2004, the Golden State Warriors named Chris Mullin executive vice president of basketball operations. He brought back Don Nelson then started adding members like Andris Biedrins, Monta Ellis, Marco Belinelli, and Anthony Randolph.
That's not to say Mullin didn’t make mistakes like drafting Patrick O’Bryant, but he was putting something special together getting Baron Davis for a bargain.
But Rowell made Mullie the scapegoat. I hope Rowell gets fired once Owner Chris Cohen realizes he made a mistake, when Larry Riley runs the team once again into the ground unless he becomes Don Nelson’s yes-man.
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