Golden State Warriors: Hardaway, Webber and the '90s Super Team That Never Was

Mike B.Correspondent IJuly 5, 2011

Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

The video game NBA Live '95 brought joy to the households of basketball fans throughout the country. 

Many would agree that the Golden State Warriors were one of the best teams to play with in the game.

The team featured an intriguing starting five of center Chris Webber, forwards Billy Owens and Chris Mullin, and a backcourt of Tim Hardaway and Latrell Sprewell.   

While gamers got the chance to play with this lineup in video-game land, they never had the opportunity to see it in real life. Injuries and trades prevented Golden State from being a perennial title contender in the '90s.

The Don Nelson-coached Warriors were expected to do big things in the 1993-94 season, maybe even reach the NBA finals.

They sported one of the game's top point guards in Hardaway, a member of the Original Dream in Mullin, Sprewell, who was coming off a great rookie year and Owens, who the Warriors loved so much that they traded Mitch Richmond for him back in 1991.      

And last but not least was the rookie Webber, who was expected to emerge as the team's most reliable big man in quite a while.

Webber lasted just one season in Golden State because of his relationship with Nelson.
Webber lasted just one season in Golden State because of his relationship with Nelson.

Webber was taken No. 1 by Orlando in the 1993 draft, but was immediately traded to Golden State for Anfernee Hardaway (no relation to Tim) and three future first-round draft choices.   

Things would come crashing down for the Warriors, though, as Hardaway and sixth man extraordinaire Šarūnas Marčiulionis went down with knee injuries, forcing them to miss the entire 1993-94 campaign. 

But despite the absence of those two and losing Mullin for 20 games due to injury, the Warriors enjoyed a remarkable season, posting a 50-32 record and making the playoffs.

Sprewell blossomed into a star as he averaged 21 points per game, made the All-Star team and earned a spot on the All-NBA First Team.  

Webber turned out to be the big man the Warriors had been looking for, putting up 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game and winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

Free agent signee Anthony Johnson filled in nicely at point guard, replacing the injured Hardaway. No, he didn't excite Bay Area fans with a Hardaway-like "killer crossover," but he still did a solid job.   

Golden State, however, would be swept by the Phoenix Suns, 3-0, in the first round of the playoffs as Charles Barkley dropped 56 points in Game 3.

The following season, the Warriors were expected to do some major damage. Hardaway had returned, Sprewell was a proven star and Webber was on the verge of becoming a franchise player.

Owens was traded to Miami for center Rony Seikaly so that Webber could move over to his preferred power forward spot. And Marčiulionis was traded to Seattle for two-time Sixth Man of the Year, Ricky Pierce.

All the pieces were placed in order for Golden State to make a run at the title. However, Webber, who was feuding with coach Nelson, made it clear that he no longer wanted to be a Warrior.

The former Michigan standout would exercise an option to make him a restricted free agent. He was then shipped to Washington in a sign-and-trade deal for forward Tom Gugliotta and three future first-round draft choices.

Without Webber, the Warriors basically fell apart. Nelson ended up resigning and both Hardaway and Mullin were later traded. In '97, Sprewell choked then-coach P.J. Carlesimo, resulting in a 68-game suspension and eventually a trade to the New York Knicks.

And sadly, the Warriors '94 playoff appearance would be their last until 2007, when they upset Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks in the first round.    

But just think if the Hardaway injury never occurred and Mullin would have stayed healthy. And of course, what if Webber and Nelson never got into it and Webber was a happy camper in the Bay Area?

Throw in Sprewell and pieces such as Owens, Seikaly and Chris Gatling, and the Warriors just might have been a "Super Team" for a good part of the '90s.   

What a shame.


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