GS Warriors Playoffs 2015 – It Was All Part Of The Process

GS Warriors 2015 playoffs

I thought I had this down pat.

After going through this with the Giants (ahem, winners of three World Series titles in five years) just eight months ago, it should’ve been easy. For each post-season game in 2010, 2012, and 2014, I wore a Giants home jersey on the days they played at home and a Giants road jersey when they played on the road. And after each game, I wrote a game story, all of which you can read, right here on this very blog.

But with the Warriors, it was different.

I have memories of watching the Warriors in 1983, but my first team would be the terrible 1984 version, led by my first favorite player, Sleepy Floyd. I loved Sleepy so much that when I started playing YMCA ball, I wore a white headband with the name “Eric Floyd” (the name moms gave him) written in sharpie across the front. The Warriors were so bad that year that they tied for worst record in the league with the Indiana Pacers. But with their luck, thanks to a possibly rigged draft lottery, the Warriors didn’t have a shot at the number one college player and future franchise player out of Georgetown, Patrick Ewing. They didn’t even get one of the first three picks. They ended up with the 7th pick. How is that even possible? Thankfully, they drafted Chris Mullin.

In 1987, my lovably bad Warriors overachieved and made the playoffs. And even though they lost in the second round to the eventual champion LA Lakers, I got my moment. I got the Sleepy Floyd game. For the first time, my guy was on the national stage, single-handedly beating Magic Johnson and the Lakers in one of the games.

Those days would soon vanish (Sleepy would be traded to to the Rockets), but Run TMC was on its way. After lucking out with Mullin, the Warriors also lucked out by drafting Mitch Richmond out of Kansas State and the following year, Tim Hardaway out of UTEP. Hardaway’s role was simply to match-up with Warriors’ killer, Kevin Johnson. When he was drafted, they asked him if he could stop KJ. He simply said, “Yeah.” Tim Hardaway – he from Chicago.


I think most Warriors fans knew that the Run TMC era was going to be more entertaining than successful and that’s what it was. Even though it sure as heck seemed that Run TMC lasted for a while, it really only lasted three years, and only two of those years ended the season in the playoffs. In fact, the most successful Warriors team record-wise since 1975-76 was the 1991-92 team that won 55 games and then fizzled in the first round of the playoffs. But the loss of that series shifted the mentality of Warriors’ boss Don Nelson who traded away his top guard Richmond for the rights to Billy Owens. Owens was big at 6’8, could handle the basketball, use both hands, and run point-forward, but he couldn’t really shoot. The transition from Run TMC to whatever the Warriors were now meant a step back and they missed the playoffs the following year.

But then, they finally got lucky in the draft lottery and made a trade that was supposed to set the franchise up to be successful in years to come. Sitting pretty with the 3rd pick in a loaded draft, they drafted Penny Hardaway and dealt his rights to the Orlando Magic for the rights to the power forward of the future, Chris Webber. As you can tell by the narrative, the Warriors had the innate ability to turn diamonds back into coal. Chris Webber lasted all of one season (and what a beautiful season it was) before he high-tailed it out of Oakland, complaining about Nelson and his unwillingness to play center as a power forward. Hmmm, I wonder what Draymond Green thinks about that?

Chris Webber Warriors

They then traded for center Rony Seikaly to try and appease Webber, but Webber said that they traded the wrong guy; his best friend on the team, Billy Owens. He held a gun to the Warriors’ head and they traded him to Washington for several bundles of toilet paper and a never ending supply of beef jerky. Chris Webber was also afraid of the idea of earthquakes. What a puss.

Bill Simmons summarized the heartbreak warfare (John Mayer voice) in his singular Warriors-centric piece. Here are a list of things that happened between 1994 and 2008:

- In 1995, with the first pick of the draft, they selected Joe Smith with Kevin Garnett ready and willing.

- They traded Tim Hardaway to the Miami Heat and netted the great Bimbo Coles. Thanks for those great years Vern.

- In 1997, the Warriors traded Chris Mullin and Latrell Sprewell choked head coach PJ Carlesimo. They were in San Jose for one year as the Oakland Arena was being renovated and my buddy Edson and I went to see them practice at Evergreen College. I personally wished new point guard Mark Price an injury-free season. I may have jinxed the entire team with that statement.

- The Warriors drafted Vince Carter and then immediately traded him for Antawn Jamison.

- In 1999, they finally traded Latrell Sprewell who would end up in the finals as part of the NY Knicks.

- It was right around this time that I was working for KNBR and the Warriors were negotiating with play-by-play man Greg Papa on a new contract. Bob Fitzgerald’s agent came in and told the Warriors that Fitz would work for less and soon-there-after, Fitz was the new play by play man. He and Papa were great friends at the time. Welp, no longer.

- They drafted Gilbert Arenas in the second round, only to lose him after one year because he signed a deal that they couldn’t match because of their bloated team salary cap.

- Chris Mullin, back on the team as the GM, traded for Baron Davis and then drafted Monta Ellis in the second round. He also re-hired Don Nelson, who had previously destroyed one of the most promising teams in the NBA, with some help from that puss Chris Webber.

- In 2007, Mullin traded for Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson, and the Warriors made the playoffs for the first time since 1994. We believed.

- The “We Believe” Warriors gave us one tremendous post-season run and a really good following year, though they missed out on the playoffs, and soon disintegrated.

- As you understand based on the narrative, all that glitters is not gold at this point with the franchise. You see, Mullin and Nelson were in a power struggle. Nelson, who I mentioned previously had helped destroy the most promising team in the NBA, decided that he wanted more power and Mullin, the guy who brought him back to the NBA and who also played for him, needed to be out. And thanks to some shuckin’ and jivin’, he made it happen.

- The Warriors went from promising to terrible again in one fell swoop.

We Believe

And then some positive things happened.

1. They drafted skinny point-guard Stephen Curry out of Davidson.

2. Joe Lacob bought the team from Chris Cohan aka one of the worst owners in NBA history.

3. They drafted Jerry West favorite, Klay Thompson.

4. They traded Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut. Monta rode out on a moped.

5. They hired former player and broadcaster Mark Jackson to coach their team. Mama, there goes that man.

In 2012, they earned their stripes, beating Denver in the first round of the playoffs and giving the San Antonio Spurs a run for their money. They took a slight step backward last year, losing to the LA Clippers in 7 games and also firing Jackson in the process who had a shady and paranoid year himself. I documented it after a conversation with long-time Warriors color-man Jim Barnett. Barnett was very open, but didn’t want what he told me to be out there. But after he said it publicly after Jackson was fired, I figured it was fine to write about our conversation. Talk about a great person to chat hoops with.

After hiring Steve Kerr this year, it was full-speed ahead. I don’t have to remind anyone how successful the regular season was. Even the bandwagon fans who didn’t feel that heartbreak warfare know they won 67 games and breezed through the regular season.

I wrote all those words to say this; I had no idea what my process was for the Warriors. This was a far different animal altogether. They were bad luck and incompetence rolled into one.

I tried writing about the team throughout the first two rounds of the playoffs, but couldn’t find a consistent rhythm. I also didn’t have a go-to shirt. The only thing I did do was make sure I wore the Curry One’s on the day of every post-season game.

GS Warriors 2015 playoffs

I bought myself and the boys matching pairs before their AAU season started in the spring. The family that balls together, stays together.

By the way, you can watch how their seasons turned out as I catalogued about 5 hours of gameplay into a tight 4 minutes. Thanks for the soundtrack, EPMD.

Heading into game five of the NBA Finals against LeBron James (LeBron James, LeBron James, LeBron James), I decided to do 10 push-ups for every three-pointer the Warriors made. I think I ended up doing about 120 push-ups during game five and 130 push-ups during game six.

Before game six, I told my dad that we’d head over to his place to watch the game. I’ve watched every clincher by the Giants and 49ers with him, and that wasn’t going to change with the Warriors. But he almost screwed up the process.

My kids told me that he was at AT&T to watch the Giants play the Seattle Mariners in a day game. This wouldn’t generally be an issue, except for the fact that I think every time he’s been at AT&T (and previously Pac Bell Park), he’d gone to a game with me. AND IT WAS GAME 6 OF THE NBA FINALS!

Who was this guy going to a game and not even letting me know? And he was screwing with the process. What if he got home too late to watch the Warriors? Is this what newly retired guys do? They just go to the ball park on the day of the single biggest Warriors game in 40 years?

Well, it didn’t hurt the process. In fact, if we’re in this same boat next year, he’s going to have to go to the ball park without me again.

Early in March, Leandro Barbosa told the great Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (and when I say great, I really mean fine) that the Warriors were going to win the title. But he said it like only the Brazilian Blur could. He said, “We are gonna be championship.”

And be championship they did.

On June 16, 2015, what would’ve been Tupac Shakur’s 44th birthday, the Warriors be championship. They downed the Cleveland Cavs and LeBron James in Cleveland to win the series in six games. Stephen Curry didn’t quite put anyone in a blender, but he had a steady game and hit big free throws down the stretch. Series MVP Andre Iguodala (who I told my oldest son to model his game after before this season started) tied Curry’s team high of 25 points and had the exhaustive role of guarding LeBron James all series long. Draymond Green had a triple double. And Leandro Barbosa proved to be clairvoyant.

Thanks to Sleepy Floyd and Tim Hardaway for being my first two favorite non-Michael Jordan players. Much love to Run TMC and the “We Believe” teams for making things fun and exciting. Thanks to Don Nelson, who while destroying great opportunities in his own process, also headed those fun teams and alongside Larry Riley drafted that skinny point guard out of Davidson. As for Chris Webber? Well, he’ll always be a puss.

Even though I do all of the crazy things I do to be part of the process which really has nothing to do with me at all (but don’t let me tell me that), there is one thing that I truly value in this entire thing. It’s following, watching, absorbing, and obsessing over something that is merely entertainment disguised as my birth right, which is embracing my sports teams – and doing so with my family.

I didn’t watch every single finals game with my kids, but they were there in game six as we decided that much like the Brazilian Blur, we were gonna be championship.

"we gonna be championship" -Leandro Barbosa

A photo posted by Brian Gonzales (@brian_gonzales_) on

Congrats to every Warriors fan out there – bandwagon or not. We deserve it. We are championship.

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