We Warriors, Baby

We Warriors

This is the origin of “We Warriors, baby.”

(This is also the name of a new Warriors-centric Facebook Page I created today. Warriors fans, give it a like. This post is to tell the story of why I named it that.)

Just about everyone remembers John Starks as the fiery New York Knicks guard in the 90s who went toe-to-toe with Michael Jordan on occasion. More infamously, he’s known as the guy who shot 2-18 in game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets.

What many don’t realize is that Starks actually got his start in the NBA with the Golden State Warriors. Even though he wasn’t drafted, he made the Warriors out of training camp during the 1988-89 season and played over 30 games for them. That was Don Nelson’s first year as Warriors head coach. Mitch Richmond was playing in front of Starks as was Otis Smith, the same Otis Smith who’d eventually run the Orlando Magic.

Starks was cut and and bounced around the CBA and the WBL league the following year. The WBL didn’t allow players who were over 6’5. No, really.

Starks then spent the next 8 years in New York.

But it was actually his second stint with Golden State that was most memorable to me. Starks was traded to the Warriors in early 1999 as part of the Latrell Sprewell trade. In December of 1997, Sprewell was suspended for choking Warriors’ coach PJ Carlesimo. He missed the rest of the season and then the NBA lockout the following season caused the season to start late. Sprewell then went on to help the Knicks get to the NBA Finals, and was arguably their best player during the series, where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs.

As for the Warriors that year? They were a bit of a scrappy bunch, winning 21 out of 50 games with a rag tag roster led by Starks who was their leading scorer. It was Antawn Jamison’s rookie season. The great Bimbo Coles ran the point. Donyell Marshall and Chris Mills were their second and third leading scorers. And Muggsy Bogues played 36 games, starting 5 of them. Looking back at the roster, I’m unsure how they even won 21 games.

I was working for KNBR during that time frame as an assistant producer which essentially meant that I cut tape for sound bites and at times, phone screened the callers. One night, I was listening to post-game audio of a Warriors victory and Starks was being interviewed.

When asked how they were able to persevere and win the ball game, Starks had a simple answer. He said, “We Warriors, baby.” It was a great sound bite. And then he said it again, “We Warriors, baby.”

For whatever reason, that quote stuck with me. I had some memorable moments working for The Sports Leader. Some stories are probably still unfit to blog about. But alas, that quote was one of them.

The Warriors have been mostly terrible since that time with the exception of the We Believe team and the current championship run. Whenever the lowly Warriors teams of the past 16 years would win, I’d tell my kids, “We Warriors, baby.” They just assumed I made it up I’m sure.

Today, it’s ingrained in them as something fun to say after the team wins. Well, they’ll probably say, “We gonna be championship” first. But second? We Warriors, baby.

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